February 25, 2014

Dead affiliates walking - February 28, 1979

It's that time again - time to look at a day in the week of our most recent TV Guide.  (Loyal readers know this probably means I don't have anything else ready to post today, but that doesn't mean it isn't still fun.)

Today's listing is from Wednesday, February 28, 1979.  It's a strange time in Minneapolis-St. Paul television - the Great Affiliate Switch is right around the corner, in which longtime NBC affiliate KSTP moves to the suddenly-dominate ABC, while independent (and one-time ABC affiliate) WTCN takes the now-homeless NBC, and former ABC affiliate (and previous independent) KMSP once again goes it alone. Got all that?  This ad gives us a flavor of the coming confusion:

KTCA, Channel 2 (PBS) 
07:00a Japan: Living Tradition
07:30a Vegetable Soup
07:45a A.M. Weather
08:00a Sesame Street
09:00a The Electric Company
09:30a American Indian Artists
10:00a The Naturalists
10:30a Consumer Survival Kit
11:00a Studio See
11:30a Sesame Street
12:30p Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
01:00p The Electric Company
01:30p Julia Child & Company
02:00p Over Easy (guest Jack Carter)
02:30p Dick Cavett
03:00p Country Matters
04:00p Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
04:30p Sesame Street
05:30p The Electric Company
06:00p Studio See
06:30p MacNeil/Lehrer Report
07:00p Dick Cavett (guest Neil Simon)
07:30p Wyld Rice
08:00p Shakespeare Plays – “As You Like It”
10:30p Cousteau Odyssey (special)
11:30p Cousteau Odyssey (special)
12:30a Crosstalk (guest Stan Kenton)

KTCA doesn't have much inventory, does it?  A lot of these shows, such as The Electric Company, run two or three times a day.  (As you can see, the station has pretty much abandoned the classroom programming that was a mainstay of its early years.)

I don't know if you remember Not For Women Only, the show hosted by Barbara Walters that was, in fact, mostly for women.  Her old Today show partner Hugh Downs has his own show, Over Easy, which tries to tell us it isn't mostly for seniors, which it is.  But pretty soon the two are going to reunite on ABC's 20/20.  Dick Cavett has found a home on PBS as well, with his half-hour, one-guest version of his ABC program.  Someone recently wrote that Cavett was the last remnant of a time when good conversation was accepted as entertainment, and although I frequently found Cavett tiresome, I would have to agree with that.

WCCO, Channel 4 (CBS)
06:00a Wednesday Morning
07:00a Allan’s Window
07:30a Captain Kangaroo
08:00a Phil Donahue (Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame)
09:00a All in the Family
09:30a The Price is Right
10:30a Love of Life
10:55a CBS News
11:00a The Young and the Restless
11:30a Search for Tomorrow
12:00p Midday
12:30p As the World Turns
01:30p Guiding Light
02:30p M*A*S*H
03:00p Match Game ’79 (panelists Bart Braverman, Fannie Flagg, Dick Martin, Charles Nelson Reily, Barbara Rhoades, Brett Somers)
03:30p Mike Douglas (guests Lou Rawls, Andy Williams, Lennon Sisters, Shecky Greene, Loretta Lynn)
05:00p News (local)
05:30p CBS News (Walter Cronkite)
06:00p News (local)
06:30p $25,000 Pyramid (celebrity contestants Anita Gillette, Tony Randall)
07:00p Married: The First Year (debut)
08:00p One Day at a Time
08:30p The Jeffersons
09:00p Kaz
10:00p News (local)
10:30p Marcus Welby, M.D.
11:30p Bonanza
12:30a News (local)
01:00a Phil Donahue (replay)
02:00a News (local)
04:00a News (local)

Aside from the educational stations, WCCO is the only affiliate staying put, and their lineup shows that consistency .  The 6am program, Wednesday Morning, was part of Charles Kuralt's morning series of which only Sunday Morning remains.  It was actually a pretty good morning program, the predecessor to what I think was CBS' best morning news program, hosted by Bill Kurtis and Diane Sawyer.  From then on, it's been all downhill.

In the TV Guides of the 60s, soap operas run for 30 minutes, and CBS even has a couple that remain in the 15 minute format.  No longer.  Now one hour is the rule, and 30 minutes the exception.  After the local noontime news, that old warhorse As the World Turns continues in the same timeslot it filled, it seems, forever.

Notice how bland 'CCO's late-night programming is?  Ah, back in the days before the late-night chatfests.

KSTP, Channel 5
05:00a To Be Announced
06:00a News (local)
06:20a Country Day
07:00a Today (Charles Grodin, Albert Brooks)
09:00a Twin Cities Today (Dr. Joyce Brothers)
10:00a High Rollers
10:30a Wheel of Fortune
11:00a Jeopardy!
11:30a Password (Elizabeth Montgomery, Bert Convy)
12:00p Princess Knight, Princess Knight
12:30p Days of Our Lives
01:30p The Doctors
02:00p Another World
03:00p Movie – “Never Say Goodbye” (B&W)
05:00p Hogan’s Heroes
05:30p NBC News (Chancellor/Brinkley)
06:00p News (local)
06:30p The Gong Show (panelists Pat McCormick, Jaye P. Morgan, George Lindsey)
07:00p Eight is Enough
08:00p From Here to Eternity (miniseries version)
10:00p News (local)
10:30p Johnny Carson (guests Robert Blake, Kelly Monteith, Rand)
12:00a Flak on Five
12:30a News (local)
01:00a Laird Brooks Schmidt

KSTP is already transitioning to ABC, airing Eight is Enough at 7pm (more about that below).  From Here to Eternity is not the Oscar-winning movie with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, nor is it the 1980 series with William Devane and Kim Basinger.  Instead, it's what could be thought of as the pilot for that series, which instead of Basinger starred Natalie Wood.  Who, at the time, was a much bigger star than Kim.

Tomorrow has vacated KSTP for future home WTCN; in its place are two local programs, Flak on Five and Laird Brooks Schmidt.  I'm not positive, but "Flak" might have been Gary Flakne, former Hennepin County prosecutor turned talk show host.  ( I'm sure someone can fill us in if that's not right.)  Schmidt, on the other hand, was a wonderful personality, a host of late-night movies and a great talker. And speaking of local programming, Twin Cities Today was one of the legendary local programs of the 70s and 80s, starring "Steve and Sharon" - Steve Edelman and Sharon Anderson, who married during the show's long run.  They later went into the production business - Edelman Productions being a major domo for decorating shows on HGTV.

KMSP, Channel 9
06:00a 700 Club
07:00a Good Morning, America
09:00a Dinah! (guests Dennis Weaver, Robert Wagner, Betty White, Jacques Cousteau, Graham Nash)
10:00a Happy Days
10:30a Family Feud
11:00a $20,000 Pyramid (guests Jo Anne Worley, David Letterman)
11:30a Ryan’s Hope
12:00p All My Children
01:00p One Life to Live
02:00p General Hospital
03:00p Medical Center
04:00p Streets of San Francisco
05:00p ABC News (Frank Reynolds)
05:30p Sanford and Son
06:00p News (local)
06:30p The Muppet Show (guest Sylvester Stallone)
07:00p Edward the King
08:00p Charlie’s Angels
09:00p Vega$
10:00p News (local)
10:30p The Rockford Files
11:40p Kojak
12:50a News (local)

Edward the King, which I covered on Saturday, is bringing in big ratings for Channel 9, bumping Eight is Enough to future home KSTP.  After all, KMSP doesn't give a damn about ABC programming, right?  Edward is in one sense an example of Masterpiece Theatre moved to commercial television, but I always thought of it as a kind of throwback program - the kind that David Susskind might have produced for a network back in the 60s.

Although TV Guide only lists Frank Reynolds as anchor for the ABC News, this is actually Roone Arlidge's World News Tonight, which featured Reynolds as lead anchor, along with Max Robinson in Chicago, Peter Jennings in London, and Barbara Walters in New York.  I remember that newscast, and Reynolds, fondly.

WTCN, Channel 11 (Ind.)
05:30a What’s New?
06:00a PTL Club
07:00a The Flintstones
07:30a Popeye and Porky
08:30a Groovie Goolies and Friends
09:00a Fred Flintstone and Friends
09:30a Bewitched
10:00a Family Affair
10:30a Mayberry R.F.D.
11:00a Love American Style
11:30a What’s New?
12:30p Andy Griffith
01:00p Movie – “The Big Heat” (B&W)
03:00p Spiderman
03:30p Tom and Jerry
04:30p Leave it to Beaver (B&W)
05:00p I Love Lucy (B&W)
05:30p My Three Sons
06:00p Carol Burnett and Friends (guests Joel Grey, Cass Elliot)
06:30p The Newlywed Game
07:00p Supertrain
08:00p Merv Griffin (guests Neil Sedaka, Milton Berle, Eartha Kitt, Robert Urich, Barclay Shaw, Charlie Hill, Irv Benson)
09:30p News (local)
10:00p Mary Tyler Moore
10:30p Bob Newhart
11:00p The Odd Couple
11:30p The Gong Show (Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, Pat McCormiick)
12:00a Tomorrow (guest Irving Mansfield)
01:00a The FBI
02:00a Alfred Hitchcock Presents (B&W)
02:30a Alfred Hitchcock Presents (B&W)

KSTP isn't interested in carrying Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show anymore, so it pops up in its future home, Channel 11.  The guest, Irving Mansfield, is the widower of Valley of the Dolls author Jacqueline Susann.  And as I already mentioned, Eight is Enough and Supertrain have traded places, which makes for some very strange advertising:
A great night, sure - if you're willing to
watch two stations to catch it.

What's New?, which airs at 11:30 am (with a repeat the following morning at 5:30), is that almost-extinct species: the local variety show.  Almost extinct, because this kind of show now masquerades as a late-morning or early-afternoon news program.

KTCI, Channel 17
05:30p Villa Alegre
06:00p Japan: Living Tradition
06:30p MacNeil/Lehrer Report
07:00p Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
07:30p The Electric Company
08:00p MacNeil/Lehrer Report
08:30p Over Easy (guests Marlin and Carol Perkins)
09:00p Bill Moyers’ Journal
09:30p Mark Russell
10:00p Dick Cavett (guest Neil Simon)
10:30p ABC News (Frank Reynolds) (closed-captioned)

KTCI is the secondary PBS affiliate.  At this point in time it carries mostly reruns of big brother KTCA's shows.  Later, the station honchos will try to develop a full, mostly original, schedule for KTCI.  Then it seems to go back mostly to re-airing shows from KTCA.  

When I was politically active, I used to love watching Mark Russell, the Capitol Hill comedian responsible for some of the funniest, most clever satires of Washington life.  I always thought him a fair, equal-opportunity satirist. See if this rings a bill for any of you:

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I've been slow to warm to TV Guides of the 70s and 80s, but the issues from this particular era have a soft spot in my heart, for reasons that have nothing to do with specific programming.  You see, in the spring of 1978 I graduated from high school in the world's worst town, and in the fall of that year we moved back to the Twin Cities as I started college.  My personal collection of TV Guides from then on, therefore, revert to the Minneapolis-St. Paul edition, rather than the Minnesota State Edition that I got during the Dark Ages.  Just looking at the simpler, more familiar program listings from these issues reminds me of how happy I was to return to civilization, and to this day it brings a smile to my face.


  1. During much of the late 1970s, I pursued a "hobby" that you might find a bit strange.
    Here in Chicago, we still had a number of newsstands in the Loop, that carried out-of-town newspapers.
    I would ocasionally buy weekend editions of papers from various cities, solely to get their weekly TV books.
    For a while there, I had quite a collection going - books from Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Seattle, Buffalo, and on and on. I even had some books from Canadian papers, mainly Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg (I did manage a few from places like Vancouver, Edmonton, and Saskatchewan).
    I got to be friendly with the newsstand operators, who would sometimes poach the TV books from other papers and include them with the ones I was buying, which saved me more than a little bit of money.
    Of course, I also had some from Minneapolis-St.Paul, mainly from the Tribune, which had one of the more attractive books available.
    The week of the big channel switch, I recall that the Tribune book's front cover had a cartoon, showing the three switched stations on psychiatrist's couches, each with its own "identity crisis".
    We never had anything like this in Chicago, where the networks owned their stations; I actually felt a little jealous.
    (Actually, we did have something like it in the very early '50s, but I was a tot then; my old TV Forecasts from those days told me the story years later - but that's kind of irrelevant here.)

    Looking at the transitional week you've got here, a couple of questions occur to me:

    - I notice that KMSP isn't carrying Edge Of Night in its ABC net 3:00pm slot; they've got Medical Center there instead, and I don't see EON anywhere else on a delay (here in Chicago, EON was on a one-day delay at 9:30am).
    I'm wondering if Edge Of Night was picked up by KSTP when the switch was made official, either in the afternoon or anywhere else on the slate. Just curious (I was an Edge fan, as the story was really getting good about then ...) .

    - Johnny Carson' guests included "Rand".
    Look a little closer.
    Could this have been The Amazing Randi, in one his frequent Carson appearances from this period?
    If I've got the time right, this was from the period when when Randi was actively debunking Uri Geller ad other psychics, and also TV faith healers. Johnny was very much on Randi's side in this, having him on almost weekly at this point.

    - Not For Women Only had a fairly long run in syndication, even after Barbara Walters went to ABC. Dr. Frank Field, NBC's New York weatherman, had already come on as co-host, and Walters was succeeded by Lynn Redgrave, who proved quite good at the talk biz.

    I'm having a bit of character-count panic, so I'll close for the moment.
    Any questions?

  2. This also the time when most TV stations including Minneapolis stations signed off the ir for a period of time during the overnight hours. Now it is only a select few that sign off during the overnight hours

  3. How did ABC News end up on KTCI? I know channel 9 probably pre-empted it as part of their nose-thumbing at ABC for dumping them, and channel 5 likely didn't want to give up Johnny Carson any sooner than they had to. But how did KTCI, a PBS station, pick up a newscast from a commercial network? What did they do about the commercial breaks that came with it, which were (and still are) verboten on public stations?

  4. ABC News on KTCI Channel 17 was open captioned for hearing impaired viewers. It was carried late evenings on several PBS stations across the country in the late 1970s-early 80s. Edge of Night was never carried by either KMSP Channel 9 or KSTP Channel 5. It disappeared from Twin Cities television after it left CBS in 1975.

  5. I remember all the affiliate switching when I was a teen. Though it never happened in the tv market where I lived at the time (Nashville, TN), it eventually hit the NY State Capital District (where I was born), as long-time (back to 1939!) NBC affiliate WRGB-TV switched to CBS in 1981. There was an article about affiliate switching in Forbes Magazine in Feb. 1980 called "Gulp!", and it featured a picture of the Stanley Hubbards (father & son w/ different middle initials) in front of the KSTP-TV news set, explaining their decision to dump NBC for ABC. The article began w/ a funny anecdote which explained how the manager of WTHR in Indianapolis (where Letterman had once been weathercaster), upon finding out that ABC was dumping his station for rival station WRTV, took a loving cup, a gift from ABC after 20 years as an ABC affiliate, out behind the station's transmitter and shot it! :)

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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!