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Memories of Analog TV: The 1970s Part 1

Memories of Analog TV: The 70s (Feb 19, 2009)

The 70s were a groovy time for TV when I was growing up from childhood to my late teens.

There were game shows, variety shows, sitcoms, comedies, reruns from the previous decades, sketch shows, action crime dramas, stupid disco shows, shows with catch-phrases that repeat in every episode, and even the first glance of reality shows when they were once interesting.

The 70s saw the local UHF stations KCST (now KNSD) and KPBS grow into full-schedule stations going from about six hours to over 17 hours a day. Back in the early 70s, before KCST signed on cable channel 3, I could hear the audio for KEYT 3 out of Santa Barbara on the old Mission Cable system.

In about 1971, Mission Cable experimented for a month by shifting KPBS 15 from cable 12 to cable 4, displacing KNBC from Los Angeles, and carrying XEWT 12 on cable 12. That was to solve a problem with XEWT's ghosts leaking into cable 12 where KPBS was carried. I guess the viewers complained about missing KNBC loud enough to have the cable company reinstate KNBC on 4 and KPBS on 12.

In 1971, KCST started carrying some of the network programs that XETV (ABC), KFMB (CBS), and KOGO (NBC, now KGTV) didn't carry on their stations. It carried "Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour" Tuesday nights at 7:30pm when KFMB chose not to carry it. It also began carrying ABC's "All My Children" at 1pm in April of 1973, but XETV chose not to carry it for reasons unknown, as well as never carrying another soaper "One Life to Live". Through April of 1971, XETV carried "Dark Shadows" at 4pm along with KABC until its cancellation, afterwards, XETV bumped the kid shows back 1/2 an hour and began carrying at 3pm "General Hospital" which it pre-empted for "The Banana Splits and Friends Show" earlier that season. XETV never carried "One Life to Live", which was a 3:30pm show. I'm not sure if KCST carried it in the few months before it became an ABC affilliate in July of 1973.

During the time, KCST was petitioning the FCC to get the ABC affilliation from XETV because they claimed that it wasn't appropriate for an American television network to affilliate with a Mexican television station (XETV) when there was a viable American station available (KCST). In 1972, the FCC agreed with KCST and revoked XETV's permission to carry ABC's programming, but for reasons unexplained, the ABC affilliation didn't move to KCST until July 1, 1973. During the month before that, KCST ran station ID stills with a toy 18-wheel truck with one of the names of an ABC show printed on it (such as "Let's Make a Deal", "The Brady Bunch", or "Monday Night Football") and announcing that "[the name of the show] moves to KCST, July the [date]."

XETV became a full powered independent, while KCST, being on UHF, covered most of the San Diego area that XETV covered, but in La Jolla, they couldn't be seen there until a UHF translator on channel 62 was launched in 1975. I remember Bob Dale announcing the translator saying to forget about 39 if they're in La Jolla and to tune into channel 62 to get KCST, and it was about the year that KFMB fired Dale and KCST hired him for its late afternoon movie and their newscasts.

In August of 1975, KCST boosted its power to 5,000,000 watts, and adopted a brand "39 Alive."

XETV survived and thrived as an independent station during the mid 70s onward, and picked up Captain Kangaroo, Match Game '74, Lotsa Luck, and some other CBS, NBC, and ABC shows the other three network affilliates didn't carry.

Saturday morning cartoons used to be long blocks, with CBS running from 8am-2pm, NBC running from 7am-NOON, and ABC running from 7am-NOON, with American Bandstand at NOON. Sundays had CBS from 7-8am, but only on channel KNXT 2. KABC 7 ran cartoons from 10:30-11:30am. There were so many good memories of that decade that it deserves a topic of its own, but that's all about it for now.

Prime time was transformed into a teenage-driven time period when ABC (then on 39) began airing more youth-oriented shows such as "Happy Days", "Welcome Back, Kotter", and "Eight is Enough" to get those viewers that didn't care much for older-skewing CBS and NBC networks in order to rise from third to first place. ABC's strategy worked, also in concert with revamping its daytime schedule and replacing its dog game shows with more hours of soap operas for the college audience.

In the winter and spring of 1975, KCST did something odd. It ran a late-night show "Wide World of Entertainment" from 3:30pm-5pm, and signed off before midnight. It did run "The ABC Afterschool Specials" every other Wednesday, and ran "In Concert" late Friday nights though. I guess ABC wasn't happy about that.

I guess what ticked ABC off in 1975 was when in June of 1975, KCST decided to drop two soaps that they aired from 2:30 to 3:30pm at the time: One Life to Live and General Hospital. The TV Guide listings showed that XETV (which lost Match Game when KFMB picked up the show again) was going to pick up the two soaps. KCST was launching the Bob Dale hosted late-afternoon movie at 2:30pm. Viewers complained, and the next week, KCST ran catch-up episodes of the two soaps for a week in marathon showings, and the week after, scheduled them to run from 9:30-10:30am before The Brady Bunch.

Also in mid-1976, KCST started a midday news show at 11:30am, dropping "Family Feud", then later shifted it to noon, dropping "The $10,000 Pyramid".

ABC wasn't happy about is the way its San Diego affilliation ended up on KCST, and didn't like how its shows were treated by KCST as I have witnessed. It seeked the first opportunity to get back on a VHF station. Sure enough, NBC's ratings were tanking while ABC's were rising. When KGTV's contract with NBC was nearing its end in July of 1977, either ABC contacted KGTV or KGTV contacted ABC about moving its affilliation to channel 10 on July 1 of that year. KCST ended up taking the NBC affilliation on that date.

In the two months before ABC and NBC switched stations, KGTV started carrying ABC's "Happy Days" at 10am, and KCST started carrying NBC's "Wheel of Fortune" on April 25, 1977, which was also the date ABC expanded its schedule by 1/2 an hour due to expanding "All My Children" to one hour from 12-1pm (its West coast feed time). KCST debuted the hour-long "AMC" on a one-day delay from 12:30-1:30pm a day afterwards on April 26 (my 17th birthday) and dropped "Ryan's Hope" (a 1pm show) so it can run its noon news.

After the second ABC affilliation switch in the decade, some daytime NBC and ABC shows were dropped between the two stations, forcing viewers to tune into L.A.'s 4 and 7 for some network shows. Sure enough, KCST ran its popular "Phil Donahue" show from 9-10am, pre-empting the first hour of NBC's daytime shows. In its first few months as an NBC affilliate, KCST ran "Hollywood Squares" (a 9:30am show) and "Gong Show" at 4 and 4:30pm, but didn't reschedule "Sanford and Son" that ran at 9am until a few months later, but dropped it in early 1978.

In January 16, 1978, ABC expanded its "OLTL' and "GH" soaps from 45 to 60 minutes apieace from 1-3pm, moved "Family Feud" from 11:30am to 11am, and moved "Ryan's Hope" to 11:30am. KGTV moved "All My Children" to 11am-NOON, ran the noon news, then "Family Feud" at 12:30pm. In August of 1979, KGTV moved its noon news to 11:30am and ran FF and AMC in network pattern.

During that crazy decade with ABC and its three affilliates, Mission Cable TV was introducing more channels to its system. It sold my parents something called "Channel 100", a pay TV service that ran two different movies a week. It also added KMEX channel 34 on cable 14, and KPBS 15 on cable 15 in addition to the ghost-interferred cable 12. It also added XEWT 12 on cable 16, but later started running KWHY 22 when it was once a business news channel until 2pm daily on cable 16.

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