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Memories of Analog TV: The 1980s Part 2

In 1984, Cox picked up Nickelodeon, Lifetime, and A&E. Cox added Galavision pay TV on 15, but I forgot what year. Christian Communicaions Network folded in 1989. Discovery Channel was picked up in 1986. Prime Ticket was picked up around 1987. TNT was picked up in 1989. American Movie Classics, another pay channel, was launched on 57 in 1986. In 1986, FNN was picked up. In 1989, CNBC replaced FNN, and that was another Cox cable blunder that outraged viewers. In 1991, FNN folded.

In 1985, Nick at Nite was launched showing classic TV shows such as Mr. Ed and Route 66. The problem was that Cox never bothered to carry the network which was, along with KHJ, one of the most requested channels of mine at the time that Cox didn't carry. Nick at Nite was launched in June of 1985 when A&E moved to its own 24-hour channel. Cox shared Nickelodeon with A&E for the longest time because it ran out of channels so they had to share cable 33. Around 1987, Prime Ticket and another channel I forget replaced TNN in 1987.

In 1988 or so, I believe XEWT finally got its channel upgraded to modern day standards as it had been running 50's style with still cards for TV announcements and an antiquated studio up until then. It became a Univision (formerly SIN) affilliate at the time, but in 1990, KBNT channel 19 (it took over low power 17 in 1999) was launched as a Univision affilliate. XEWT returned to a Televisa Locale station.

In 1988, I'm guessing that XEWT went 24 hours on Cox, but not yet on channel 12 until January of 1991. In 1989, KTTY moved to cable 14. FNN and Discovery shared channel 35. KVEA was shown on Cox, but I forgot which channel. I don't know when Galavision was dropped. For a while, Nickelodeon and Prime Ticket shared a channel. If anyone has cable channel lineups from Cox cable in the past, please e-mail me. My cable channel lineup memories are as scrambled as HBO.

In 1987, Cox launched The Rainbow Channel, which was like several channels in one. It aired local origination, BET, Movietime, possibly EWTN, maybe a few other cable channels part time, plus KNBC's news and network shows that KCST didn't air.

In 1986, XETV became one of the first Fox affilliates in the nation. In October, Fox was launched with the nightly Joan Rivers show at 11pm. In April 1987, Fox launched its first prime-time lineup on Sundays. Later that year, it added Saturdays.

In 1988, KCST changed its call letters to KNSD, and added Larry Himmel's live Saturday night show, had a live shot of San Diego with weather and time for its hourly station IDs, and for a while added Roger Hedgecock's daily show in the 1990s.

Weekend late nights on TV were transforming. Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special faded in 1981. In place of "Midnight Special" was "SCTV Network 90" in the Friday night at 12:30 slot. "SCTV" moved from syndication when it was once known as "Second City Television" from 1977 to 1981. The move was good for at least one feature that gained a cult following: Bob and Doug McKenzie's "Great White North" sketches were so popular that it inspired an LP that year. In 1983, "SCTV" moved to Cinemax for its final season. NBC launched "Friday Night Videos" in its place. KIQQ 100.3 in Los Angeles aired the stereo simulcast of "FNV".

Video music was just getting started. MTV launched in August of 1981. HBO started showing videos in 30 minute installments as "Video Jukebox." In 1983, WTBS launched "Night Tracks" on the weekend evenings and late nights. XETV and KGB-FM once ran locally-produced video music shows in the mid 80s. "Night Flight" was launched on the USA Network weekend nights, featuring new wave music, videos, cult movies, rock profiles, video artists, and just too much other stuff to mention.

ABC launched "Fridays" in April of 1980 during the final weeks of what's left of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players on "Saturday Night Live." "Fridays" featured more outrageous sketches such as depicting simulated drug usage as its basis for laughs, stronger sex humor, stronger political satire, and physical violence. It was also known for featuring many punk rock and new wave artists. The show lasted until 1982 when it was cancelled. ABC lanunched what is now "Nightline" in the 11:30pm slot Mondays-Thursdays back when the Iranian Hostage crisis erupted in November of 1979. When ABC expanded "Nightline" to five days a week, "Fridays" was pushed back to midnight, causing its ratings to drop, mostly because most of its show was opposite "SCTV Network 90" instead of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Maybe it was best to leave it alone instead of expanding "Nightline" another night.

Showtime got into the late night comedy and variety act by launching its own series "Bizarre" in October of 1980. John Byner hosted. Dave Osbourne (real name Bob Einstein) was an announcer as well as being in some disasterous "Super Dave Osbourne" stunts that not even Evel Knevel would try. The series contained slapstick sketches, monologues, TV parodies, and performances by guest stand-up comics. Interactions between John and members of the studio audience, or show producer Bob Einstein, who often came in to halt a sketch midway through, provided an early example of removing the fourth wall. Much of the humour on the show was considered risque during the original run of the series. Showtime aired the version that included nudity and coarse language. CTV, its Canadian network home, aired a censored version.

It seemed that late night and cable TV was getting risquer compared to the previous decade.

WTBS was launched as a superstation in 1976 (as WTCG back then). One of the stars that came from the channel was Bill Tush, who had his own weekend TBS show for a short while called "Tush". A daily show "Superstation Funtime" aried at NOON Pacific time. It featured a trio of kid show hosts as well as features and cartoons. In 1980, CNN launched a late-night talk show "People Tonight" featuring entertainment news and interviews wtih host Lee Leonard. It aired at 10pm Pacific Time (it often showed a billboard of a now defunct radio station on 105.9 for a while.)

Late night television also had Johnny Carson for the entire 80s, but "Tomorrow", which followed Carson Mon-Thu came to an end in 1982 when it was cancelled to make way for "Late Night with David Letterman." Letterman had another NBC show, but in daytime, called "The David Letterman Show" that began in June of 1980. It originally ran for 90 minutes, as long as another NBC show, "Another World", at the time. NBC was the only network that had two 90-minute daytime shows on its schedule at the same time! It shrunk to 60 minutes in August (as did Another World) when "Texas", another soap opera, debut in the 3pm/2pm ET/CT&PT slot. Letterman's show was cancelled in October, but in 1981, it won two Daytime Emmy Awards.

"Joan Rivers" lasted on Fox for just over a year, then Fox replaced with another show that bombed before giving the late night slot back to its affilliates.

ABC bascially gave up on late nights except for "Nightline" after "Fridays" was cancelled. In the mid 1980s, Dr. Ruth Westheimer gained a cult following with her advice on sex in syndication. It was carried on XETV and KABC in 1986 or 1987. She had a radio show that aired Sunday nights on KGB called "Good Sex with Dr. Ruth." When the show was cancelled, I commented that after they cancelled the show, I had noone to have good sex with.

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