Big D, Big Stars, Small Station

Who’s who of Dallas TV biz populates tiny KTXD’s new show
Author:
Publish date:

Like Supermodels at a dive bar, Dallas television royalty of yore is turning up at a modest independent station in Addison, Texas, to be part of a promising, if raw, concept on KTXD Dallas. The Texas Daily, which debuted Oct. 1, brings together the boldface names of Dallas TV history, such as longtime anchors Troy Dungan and Tracy Rowlett, for a freewheeling current events commentary show aimed at an older audience.

Execution and ratings for week one leave ample room for improvement. Dallas TV critic Ed Bark said the first few shows were stop-and-start affairs, rife with technical glitches, that tallied hash marks—as in, no measurable ratings—in total viewers and people 50-plus for the first three days.

Stuart Boslow, The Texas Daily managing editor, advises patience. “We knew it would take time to get traction,” he said after three shows had wrapped. “We knew ratings would not be astronomical out of the box, but we’re not disappointed by any means.”

London Broadcasting acquired KTXD in January, where it debuted Me-TV programming a month later. London is bullish on Texas acquisitions; at the end of September, it acquired a batch of stations in Abilene and San Angelo and said the pickup will give it 40% of Texas households.

One of the architects of The Texas Daily is London executive VP/COO Phil Hurley. A natural promoter, Hurley in 2007 hired a former WWE Smackdown diva to anchor the news at KYTX Tyler. Hurley said he has not seen this degree of buzz around a launch before. “The initial excitement is far above any of the others I’ve been part of,” he said. “I am extremely pleased with how it’s gone this week.”

Bark, the former Dallas Morning News TV critic who now writes for UncleBarky.com, was less impressed by the first episode. In a lengthy review, he noted technical hiccups, awkward talent interaction and weather and sports briefs ranging between “annoying” and “infuriating.”

“This obviously is a fluid work in progress,” Bark added. “And there’s ample work to be done.”

Jeff Brady, former WFAA anchor, hosts the show, which features a revolving cast of a dozen anchors, a few appearing each day to discuss politics and local news. Brady said he’s “a kid in a candy store” amid the high-wattage talent.

Iola Johnson, a Dallas news icon and WFAA alum, made her Texas Daily debut Oct. 3. She said it’s a shock to the system to scrap the objectivity she practiced for decades. “Now I’m free to give my opinion and state what I think and feel,” Johnson said. “It’s a freeing feeling.”

Hurley hopes to simulcast the show on the subchannels of other London stations. While Bark said the ratings, particularly among viewers 50-plus, have to grow for it to stay afloat, he at least likes the concept. “If it did catch on, I think you’d see it replicated in other markets,” Bark said. “Every market has an abundance of these anchors.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

Related