KCIT-TV 50, Kansas City, MO: The Little Station That Couldn't--Page 2


...and then there were Torey Southwick and Ol' Gus

(Courtesy of Earl Fleer)

The other noteworthy thing about KCIT's program schedule besides the occasional network shows they did pick up was that the station provided a new home for a longtime local TV favorite: popular kids' show host Torey Southwick. Torey and his "next door neighbor" Ol' Gus were daily fixtures throughout the 1960s on the local ABC afilliate KMBC-TV. He was actually seen twice daily on the station: in the mornings on Torey Time by himself (on which he showed cartoons such as The New Adventures Of Pinocchio and Tales Of The Wizard Of Oz), and in the afternoons on Torey and Friends, which later added color and an audience of kids who welcomed occasional guests, including Yvonne Craig (who came to plug her being added to the cast of Batman) and The Amazing Kreskin (who brought everyone a copy of his Kreskin's ESP board game for everyone to try out their ESP-ability on). Speaking of games, the kids used to compete in several created for the show, to win prizes. Among the cartoons featured on the original series were: Popeye, the Famous Studios "Harveytoons" package, The Mighty Hercules, Rod Rocket, The Big World Of Little Adam, Roger Ramjet, Hanna-Barbera's Laurel & Hardy, Sinbad Jr., Batfink and The New Three Stooges (the old Three Stooges in live action were also featured).

After a decade on the local ABC affiiate, Torey and Ol' Gus headed for KCIT and made sure their young fans knew where and when to find them as 1969 wound down.

Torey's move to KCIT from the day they signed on made sense, not just because independent stations were naturals for children's shows of this type, but because--as Torey himself explained in an e-mail he sent me in July of 2000--he wanted to finish his education at UMKC in order to move on to managing positions in the burgeoning Public Television field. KCIT arranged for the taping of the "new" Torey and Friends to fit his schedule. Multiple shows--some of them outside the studio at locations such as Starlight Theatre, the local zoo and a shopping mall or two--were taped twice a week, thereby providing Torey with more time to attend classes and get his degree.

As for the show, it stayed pretty much the same outside of the occasional on-location broadcasts and a few new cartoons added to accompany the move to the new station. Among the animated additions were the new five-minute color version of Winky Dink and You (though this may have actually turned up exclusively on High-Noon Cartoons), Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Max: The 2,000 Year-Old Mouse and the King Features Trilogy package (Snuffy Smith, Beetle Bailey and Krazy Kat). Torey's theme music had to be changed as well after the move: KMBC was owned by Metromedia in those days and the lively theme music that opened and closed the original show was actually used by other cities' Metromedia stations for their local kids' shows. The new Torey theme heard on KCIT was a bouncy rendition of "This Old Man".

This shot is from the closing of a typical KCIT studio telecast. The ball Torey's holding provided him with a segue into the late-afternoon delayed broadcasts of CBS' daytime reruns of The Lucy Show: "Right now, we're going to have a ball. Not a bouncing ball--we're gonna have a Lucille Ball...here she comes!" Then he threw the ball right at the camera lens for the fadeout. Click on the Lucy promo slide below to see a larger version of it and several other slides KCIT used on-air.

Like any good independent, KCIT had to depend on a lot of movies and syndicated programming to fill out the non-network hours of their schedule. Among the syndies at the time they first signed on were The Barbara McNair Show, Playboy After Dark, The John Gary Show, Scene Seventy, and reruns of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Honeymooners, The Munsters, The Addams Family and The Patty Duke Show. They also had hourly one- or two-minute newscasts which were touted in the station's ads as "the new news that doesn't take forever".

After about a year of managing to establish itself more or less among the older but still-more-watched VHF stations, KCIT geared up for the start of the 1970 Fall season with a new station ID slide (featuring Western-type lettering, less appealing to this viewer than the original one), fewer network clearances (two or three network movie packages, CBS's Merv Griffin Show in late night, and a handful of daytime programs, mostly the CBS reruns from last season, remained) and several new syndicated offerings, such as Beat The Clock hosted by Jack Narz (which aired in prime time), Graham Kerr's The Galloping Gourmet (cast off from KMBC), Betty White's The Pet Set, and reruns of Lost In Space, Daniel Boone and one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons, Cool McCool. But KCIT was about to receive a one-two punch that would ultimately put its future in jeopardy. The first blow was delivered by the September 28, 1970 sign-on of a second independent station for Kansas City, KBMA-TV Channel 41. Not only did this station attract a sizable audience with their own lineup of favorites, but their afternoon children's show, 41 Treehouse Lane, gave KCIT's Torey some genuine competition with its library of classic Warner Brothers cartoons and the live-action Ultraman and Johnny Sokko episodes, the station's UHF signal came in much clearer than KCIT's (at least in our house--more about that later), and most importantly, KBMA's initial owners had deeper pockets.

That last fact leads to the second blow delivered to KCIT, shortly after 1971 began. Channel 50 had somehow gotten itself into financial dire straits and was starting to drown in a sea of red ink. A spokesperson for KCIT's owners, Allied Broadcasting, later blamed the station's sudden financial woes on worsening economic conditions, particularly where advertising was concerned, but why KCIT was adversely affected while things appeared to be going smoothly for KBMA is unclear at this time. Sometime back in the 1980s, I mentioned KCIT to another Kansas City TV station representative whom I called during an overnight stay in K.C., and he claimed that part of the problem was due to all those affiliate-pre-empted network shows they had volunteered to bring to the viewers--perhaps too many failures among them. But as noted earlier, this was a common practice among indies, and a few of the network offerings on KCIT were popular.

Whatever was to blame at the time, KCIT's financial tailspin continued to accelerate, leading to a later sign-on time. Whereas 9:30 AM (and eventually 9 AM) had been the norm for the station for most of its run, by late June they held off the start of their broadcast day until 2:30 in the afternoon. Reorganization of management took place at this time as well. But it didn't help. The handwriting was on the wall: KCIT had no choice but to suspend operations and go dark permanently. For their final few days of operation, they only broadcast for two hours a day at staggered sign-on and sign-off times to meet the minimal FCC requirements. The station's final fade-out occured at about 4:30 PM on July 7, 1971. One source told me that the final show ever to air on KCIT-TV was an old Laurel and Hardy comedy short, followed by a sign-off which indicated that they wouldn't sign on ever again. Another source told me that the very last thing viewers saw before KCIT shut down their transmitter for the last time was the famous Warner Brothers cartoon closing, "That's All, Folks!". Perhaps they electronically superimposed banners reading "KCIT-TV Channel 50" and "October 29, 1969--July 7, 1971" over the Warners references.


Johnny Rowlands, a former KCIT-TV 50 employee who is now a Pilot/Reporter for KMBC-TV's NewsChopper 9, provided me with a few recollections of his days at the old independent station...one of which I found to be quite bizarre. (Thanks Johnny!)

Thought I would pass along a couple of ancecdotes to you. I was in college in 1971, attending Baker University in Baldwin. Between semesters each year we had what was called an "Interterm", which was a month of independent study designed to let students more specifically pursue studies related to their major. In January of 1971, my classmate Tom Brawner and I landed an internship at Channel 50. This was the time of the "TV 50 Fastcast", and the news guys were Steve Bell, Randall Jesse, and if I'm not mistaken Walt Bodine. In fact it was from previous work I had done for Walt providing weather forecasts for NightBeat on WHB that I think helped in getting the internship gig.

Anyway, Tom and I were used in just about every aspect of the station. We were camera guys for Torey, and all those pictures you see behind him when he is holding the ball were stapled up by us! There were tens of THOUSANDS of them... it was exhausting... we literally spent hours a day doing that. Anyway, we did a ton of the tapings, with and without the kids. Torey was great to work with, but a little on the eccentric side. As a matter of fact, just for fun one day we decided to kidnap Ol' Gus and hold him for ransom. Torey kept him in this lavish red velvet case, and we snatched him one morning and left behind what we thought was a cute little ransom note. I think it mentioned dismemberment and kindling, but I'm not sure. At any rate, when Torey arrived for the show that day and found our note, he went nuts. To say he didn't find our caper amsuing at all would be a colossal understatement. He berated us. We were called into the GM's off (one of the Worthingtons, I believe)... heck, we thought they were going to call the police. What Tom and I didn't realize was that Ol' Gus was a one-of-a-kind carving that cost thousands of dollars, and that he was pretty much irreplaceable. Hence, Torey's reaction. I don't think he ever cared for us much after that.

So, from there we were given a project to cut a promo for their Saturday Night Movie feature. The movie was Night and Day, and they taught us how to actually cut a climatic clip from the movie, put leader on it, set up a slide for the promo open, etc. I even did the voiceover... my first gig on TV! Anyway, over a two or three day period we got it written, taped, and in the can. We spliced the clip back into the movie and the promo turned out to be a big success... very professional looking and I doubt that anyone seeing it knew that it was put together by a couple of interns.

While we were interning, Tom and I were staying at my parent's house here in KC. My mom and dad were our biggest fans, and they followed our every accomplishment. They had even vowed to watch the movie we promoted to show their support. And, it was on that Saturday night when Tom and I came home after being out for a few beers that I saw a look on my parents face that I had never seen before. They were white as sheets... pale as you can imagine. I asked what in the world was going on... and they told me. I wish they hadn't. You see, while they were watching that movie that we had promoted so beautifully, and as they were engaged in the crescendo of drama that led up to that climatic moment of the film that we had used in our promo, they saw, as that moment arrived, the stars of the film........ upside down and backwards, speaking a strange language. Yes, you are right. We did. When we re-inserted the clip back into the film, we put it in not just upside down, but backwards as well.

For the rest of that weekend we devasted, knowing that on Monday we were going to get reamed. And we did. They weren't mean, but they were firm... and we felt like idiots. I was humiliated... just at a time when I'm trying to show I'm not your average run of the mill intern, that I can be just as professional as any of them, I crash and burn. We ended up holding on for that last final week, but no one talked to us much. I think we were kind of labled from there on out.

There are many other stories as well... the ladder we forgot to move before Steve Bell's Fastcast that stood tall behind him when he was on-air, the camera assignment that put me on a 50 foot high scaffolding for All Star Wrestling at Memorial Hall where they had a near riot... and more. But the two I have related are the best, and will go down in the annals of KCIT TV50's curious short-lived existence as fine moments in broadcasting. It was a great learning experience to say the least.


KCIT-TV & ME: THE PERSONAL SIDE OF THE STORY

The next few paragraphs deal with the problems I encountered in my efforts to try and watch the station more often, as well as to try and get its signal to come in better, and they weren't easy to write. On the chance any immediate family members happen to see this, they'll likely disagree with what I have to say--but I'm sorry; I simply have to tell the whole story. It didn't have to turn out this way.


As I mentioned earlier, KCIT's debut was most timely as far as Kansas City's need for an independent TV station that could pick up a great deal of locally pre-empted network programming was concerned. But its timing couldn't have been worse as far as my trying to convince my family to invest in the necessary equipment to bring it in was concerned. When the station first signed on, we had a pair of black-and-white sets capable of only bringing in channels 2-13, and a color console purchased July 23, 1966 which was the exact opposite of everything I'd hoped our first color TV would be.


Pictured above is a classic example of poor craftsmanship, cheap materials and flimsy construction...with a toothpick structure sitting on top of it.

Before they went out and bought it three years prior to the coming of KCIT, I tried to persuade my folks to get a Sylvania or Motorola with a rectangular picture tube and maybe instant-on, but they were dead-set on a less-expensive model with a round tube, one of the last such models to use this then-not-far-from-extinction type of picture tube...and that's what I got stuck with for about the next nine years. They also disagreed with me on which brand we should buy, and they won that argument as well. I won't mention which brand it was...but suffice it to say that when it came to this particular model, they most definitely forgot to put the quality in before they put the name on.

As excited as I was about having color at last, the round picture tube was a real letdown for me as crucial details of the picture were always cut off at the corners, usually credits or other important on-screen text. Even worse, things were always going wrong with it (no fewer than three knobs broke off during as many years)...and the guys from whom they bought it could never get it fixed quite right. Once, it actually took them two visits to fix a burned-out channel-indicator light bulb.

A mid-1960s transistorized UHF converter used for adding channels 14-83 to TV sets made before May 1964. How I wished jolly old St. Nick would have left one of these under our Christmas tree in 1969.

(Courtesy of Mark Nelson)

But I'm straying from the subject. The roof antenna attached to the color set, like the two B/W sets, was only equipped to bring in the three VHF affiliates; the UHF antenna on the back of the color set was a cheap loop that did a poor job of bringing in Channel 50. I had hoped we would soon trade in that lemon--or at least one of the black-and-whites--on a newer and better color set, or that we'd get the outdoor antenna upgraded, or at the very least, get one of those external UHF converter boxes as a Christmas gift toward the end of 1969 to add to the B/W console. December, however, was a month of personal struggles particularly involving my father, and any hope of improving the color reception of KCIT had to be put on hold for a while. On the other hand, getting a UHF converter--for Christmas or afterward--shouldn't have been as unreachable a goal as everyone else made it seem to be at the time. They were going for roughly $20-$25--far less than the older tube-type models cost in the '50s, and I insist that, had we made this one-time-only purchase in 1969 or 1970, it would not have sent us scrounging around garbage cans for our food. After all, Mom was willing to shell out about the same amount in 1971 for a portable cassette recorder my brother wanted. Of course, there was the additional matter of where we had to go to pick up one of those coveted converters. Radio Shack would not come to our neighborhood for a year or two, and the only other place I knew of that sold them was the now-defunct K.C.-based Burstein-Applebee chain of electronics stores. The nearest one was in Overland Park, but Mom didn't want to go "clear over there" for one of those things. She didn't seem to mind going "clear over there" to get Mc Donald's or KFC, though.

So, I was forced to settle for having to try and watch bits and pieces of Torey and Friends in either confetti-obscured color or grainy black-and-white...also on the color set. My brother, on the other hand, had a close friend whose parents' color set got great reception of KCIT. I had to take his word for it. He always got to go there and see it--I never did.

In the Summer of 1970, Mom finally agreed to have a UHF antenna installed on the roof so we could at least pick up KCIT clearly on the color set. Unfortunately, she chose to have the job done by the outfit that sold us the set, and once again they botched everything. One man was on the roof, slowly rotating the installed antenna to get the best picture. The other man and my Mom watched the set tuned to Channel 50. My job was to stand just outside the house and listen for the "inside" man's word that the desired reception was attained (I was unable to watch the picture clear up--it figures...), at which point I was to tell the man on the roof to stop rotating the antenna. The picture did clear up...but went bad shortly afterward. This led Mom to believe that we'd never be able to pick up KCIT perfectly on that set, so she had them take down the extra antenna and depart with it, bringing us back to Square One. Eventually I came to the painful realization that we always would have picked up KCIT clearly with that antenna...if only the guy rotating it would have heard me the first time telling him to stop, instead of not hearing me and continuing to rotate it so the great reception was lost.

Actually, it might not have made much difference how good KCIT came in on the one-and-only color set we had then. It seemed like more than half of what I wanted to watch on that station was on opposite something somebody else just HAD to watch in color, and they always HAD to have the last word. If NBC put on a Monday night movie I wanted to watch that was turned down by WDAF but picked up by KCIT, everyone else turned a deaf ear on my plea to be able to watch it on the only set in the house that could get the station at all, since it was far more important to them that they once again got to see Mayberry R.F.D. and The Doris Day Show in color. If I wanted to watch NBC's Name Droppers at 3 PM, my brother invariably said I "couldn't" because his conflicting Gomer Pyle daytime reruns on CBS demanded color. These days he can buy the first two seasons' worth of episodes on DVD (with more to come in the future, undoubtedly) and watch them any time he wants. Beat The Clock at 7:30 weeknights? Not for me--someone always "needed" that blasted color set at the same time. Eventually I persuaded them all to let me see the syndie game three or four times and they watched it with me--under protest.

At least BTC somehow came in fairly good those few nights. No such luck with NBC's encore broadcast of an episode of The Name Of The Game entitled "Jennifer Wilde Is Drowning" guest starring Pamela Franklin and Frank Gorshin. I caught this one the first time around on Des Moines' WHO-TV on a visit with out-of-state relatives and liked it enough to want to see it again. But I couldn't "see" it on KCIT later that season--I could only hear it. The reception was that bad. Still, the dialogue mattered and I just listened to the audio portion while the picture was nothing but snow. Then Mom came in, saw the non-picture and sputtered something about "damaging the set" and "hurting my eyes". When I told her I was trying to listen to the show, she demanded that I listen to the radio. Trouble was, TNotG wasn't a radio show. Besides, she didn't like what we listened to on radio anyway in those days (this was 1970, folks, a time when any song written after 1954 was "noise" to our parents). Thank heaven this show was available in syndicated reruns for a while after it was cancelled by NBC.

Shortly after the 1970 Fall season got underway, Mom decided to have the color set taken into the shop for the first of two overhauls (the second took place in 1973 and involved a new picture tube). That she actually preferred to pour hundreds of dollars into this aging relic in her relentless efforts to prove to me just what a "great" set it was instead of simply going out and buying a 25-inch RCA or Admiral to replace it that much sooner was excruciatingly frustrating and underscores the fact that for everyone in the family BUT me, logic took a back seat to sentiment for too many years ("Dad bought that set...") Anyway, the repairmen gave us a 19" black-and-white loaner while they performed their latest bandage hack job on that other thing...and we were all surprised to discover how crystal clear KCIT came in on this monochrome portable in the same location as the color set, and with the same type of loop antenna on the back. We kept it long enough for me to be able to watch one afternoon installment of Torey and Friends (the King Features Trilogy cartoon that day was "Psychological Testing" with Beetle Bailey, the only short in the whole package I ever got to watch all the way through in those days), and Mom assured me that the color set would get it just as good in color once we got it back. It never did. Not without the proper antenna aimed in the right direction, it couldn't--and she already tried that once.

When KBMA debuted that Fall on Channel 41, it came in better on the color set than KCIT ever did. It wasn't a perfect picture--there was always faint confetti--but we never lost the picture...or the color. KBMA in those early days also had the distinction of having the only regular program on any UHF station in the area to claim the allegiance of not just me, but my brother and--surprisingly--my sister, who otherwise was oblivious to the presence of any Kansas City channel higher than 9. Every Saturday night at 10 we watched old horror films hosted by "The Creeper", campily played by Ed Muscare who was also "Uncle Ed" on 41 Treehouse Lane.

As 1971 progressed and KCIT-TV was ailing and about to die off, Mom at last decided to replace the also-ailing 12-channel black-and-white set in her bedroom with a second-hand, 82-channel RCA B/W portable someone down the street was sellng for about $35. The good news was that KBMA came in great on this new-old set. The bad news was that KCIT had already gone dark perhaps a mere few days before she brought it home. The women could have cared less; for me it was a mixed blessing. If we had to lose one of our independents, it was probably just as well that it wound up being the one with the worst color reception downstairs. Still, it would have been great to have been able to perhaps watch KCIT clearly on the new portable...if only for the better part of its last week of operations.

BUT ENOUGH OF THESE UNFORTUNATELY-STILL-MEMORABLE FAMILY MOMENTS; LET'S GET BACK TO THE MAIN STORY.

Upon hearing the news of KCIT's untimely demise, KBMA-TV stepped in and rescued two or three of the ill-fated station's network offerings (a couple of network movie packages and Dinah's Place), and at least two of their syndicated acquisitions--The Galloping Gourmet and Lost In Space reruns. Then they announced a "viewer's choice" poll in which area viewers were to mail in ballots from The Kansas City Star marked with one of two late-night network talk show choices for Channel 41 to pick up that coming Fall. KBMA had the option of either picking up Merv Griffin from CBS (one of KCIT's last offerings) or Dick Cavett from ABC, which KMBC evidently wanted nothing more to do with after going with his show for awhile in 1970. I remember casting my vote for Merv, but--as was all-too-often the case by this time with virtually all my TV choices--everyone else sided with the alternative, and naturally they won by an overwhelming lead. By September, Dick Cavett was given the coveted spot on KBMA's late-night schedule. But the mere fact that the station even had to choose one of these network shows and leave the other one out in the cold underscores the fact that the Kansas City network affiliates went a bit overboard on the pre-emptions back then, and would continue to long after we left the area in mid-1972.

Channel 50 was "born again" in 1978 as the religious and family-oriented KYFC-TV, which stayed on the Kansas City airwaves ten times longer than did KCIT.

As the '70s progressed, KBMA eventually came back into my life for a few years--as a cable "superstation" available in Des Moines. They were continuing to pick up a number of network shows bumped by K.C. affiliates, and their one-time inclusion of CBS' daytime game show The Joker's Wild benefited Des Moines where it wasn't shown locally. They later changed their call letters to KSHB, were dropped, picked up again, and then dropped permanently from the Des Moines cable lineup, then went on to affiliate with the new Fox network in 1986, and finally--in September 1994--became the area's new NBC affiliate as WDAF switched to Fox. At last, WDAF was relieved of their pre-emption-laden NBC affiliation...25 years too late to suit me.

As for Channel 50, the July 7, 1971 departure of KCIT-TV rendered it an inactive space on Kansas City TV dials until December 17, 1978, when it signed on again as KYFC-TV, which specialized in religious programming and a few family-friendly off-network reruns. It stayed on the air far longer than KCIT did, too--roughly 20 years. Then the station changed hands and briefly became an all-infomercial channel, KINB-TV. The final changeover came with the debut of the equally-family-friendly Pax network, which affiliated with Kansas City's Channel 50 as KPXE-TV. These call letters are still in use by the station, although Pax later gave way to Ion Television, an oldies-type of TV network which KPXE currently carries. The call letters KCIT continue to live on today as well...on a Fox affiliate on Channel 14 in Amarillo, Texas.

But for this one-time Kansas City viewer, the loss of the original KCIT-TV still brings sad feelings of what could have been...not just in terms of programming, but of the ability to pick it up clearer in color--and on at least one more set.

Despite a broadcast history of less than two years, my having been saddled with hopelessly inadequate video equipment and barely any effort from indifferent famliy members to upgrade any of it, the losing battles I fought with them in my efforts to try and watch almost any of its offerings, and even the station's failure to bring It Takes Two to Kansas City TV screens when they had the chance (after all, WDAF was really to blame for its absence in the area), KCIT-TV Channel 50 had more class--and sense--than any of the competing network affiliates did in those "let's bump everything that isn't an established institution or major hit--no one will mind" days. Sometimes it seemed like they were the independents.

Here's to you, KCIT-TV 50. You've been missed all these years...and will continue to be missed for many more.

A FEW FINAL POSTSCRIPTS...

That horrible round-screen color TV stayed with us until February 1975 (!), when everyone else in the family finally caught up to me and realized it was time to trade it in rather than throw away any more money on pointless repairs. Mercifully, its replacement was a 25-inch RCA, not some 23-inch cheapie by that same lousy maker of our first set which I feared we'd be getting as the family's earlier forceful opinions would have dictated. Incidentally, regardless of what anybody might tell you, the correct screen measurement for those round color models of yore is 19 inches diagonal. They were commonly referred to as 21-inch models based on the measurement of the tube by itself, but a government ruling which went into effect at the start of 1967 stated that makers had to go by the diagonal measurement of the tube after it was installed in the set, at which point some of the picture area was obscured. I knew this, but everyone else disagreed and for some time we had as many arguments over the correct measurement as we did on who got to watch their show in color. Or sometimes in my case, at all.

The local dealer from whom Mom and Dad bought that piece of junk is now history. The whole strip center was eventually leveled, and a Wal-Mart now occupies that space.

Like many other ambitious UHF stations that failed before it, KCIT might have been able to sign-on years earlier, have crystal-clear local reception on ALL our TVs, gain more acceptance in our house, and be financially successful enough to remain on the air to this day...if only the pioneers of TV in its earliest days had had brains enough to act on the sage advice of a man named Dr. Allen B. Dumont, founder of TV's original fourth network which bore his last name. When it became obvious that VHF channels 2 to 13 alone wouldn't be enough to bring four or five networks to over 200 different U.S. markets, the UHF spectrum was opened up, despite its reception limitations. When the Federal Communications Commission mulled over how and where to allocate the UHF channels, Dr. Dumont wisely suggested that some markets, to start with, be given perhaps five to seven VHFs, but no UHFs, and that all other markets be granted only UHF channels, thereby putting both frequencies on more or less equal footing; a family living in an all-UHF city during the 1950s or 1960s would have had to buy an 82-channel set and a good UHF roof antenna to watch anything, as was the case for real in cities like Peoria, Illinois and Bakersfield, California. Conversely, VHF channels 11 and 13 could have been allocated to Kansas City instead of Topeka which would have then become an all-UHF market--thereby meaning that not only would Topeka have perhaps gotten their own NBC and ABC stations much, much sooner than they actually did, but KCIT might have been able to go on the air even before we moved to Kansas City, using either Channel 11 or 13. That could have saved this family a lot of headaches.

What prevented this from being carried out were the stubborn attitudes of the owners of twelve VHF stations which got on the air prior to 1952. Under Dr. Dumont's plan, they would have had to switch their signals to UHF to achieve nationwide non-intermixture. As proud TV pioneers who wanted to stay in good graces with their viewers and others higher-up in their cities by not being forced to move to the "lesser" frequency and forcing folks to run out and buy UHF converters and antennas (or a whole new set), they fought Allen's proposal and persuaded the FCC to issue U's and V's together in most cities. As a result, the intermixture-plagued Dumont network folded, a number of small and medium-sized TV markets had to wait till at least 1966 or 1967 to get a primary ABC affiliate (or a new UHF CBS or NBC outlet while ABC took over the old VHF station) when enough people took the color TV plunge or replaced an old B/W clunker with an new 82-channel model, and KCIT--and myself--had to contend with the problems that arose from its being on fuzzy 50 instead of problem-free 11 or 13. Thanks a lot, you twelve early station managers. Even before I was born, people in your profession had it in for me.

In this age of few remaining true independent TV stations and corporate package deals with Disney, Warner Brothers, etc. monopolizing afternoon kiddie slots, not to mention changing tastes and trends in cartoons, trying to get a local station or even Cartoon Network to put on such former KCIT offerings as Max: The 2,000 Year-Old Mouse and the King Features Trilogy is virtually useless. Few seem to care...and yet they're still in the vaults waiting a revival. When Nickelodeon ran an original special, "Cartoon Lost And Found", back in the '80s, it was the first chance I'd ever had to see two or three brief snippets of a Gene Deitch-produced Krazy Kat short--in full color to boot. I wrote KFS and asked them if they'd ever come back. Not on TV, they said, but a few tapes of them were available. But I had problems getting a decent KK tape and had to give it up. Happily, all but eleven of of the KK TV shorts were put out out on DVD some time ago, and those missing eleven titles had been released earlier on a VHS from Best Film & Video (the older KK tapes I had trouble with were from another distributor). Tape-wise, I had better luck with Beetle Bailey (I've seen a few Snuffy Smiths on tape since and can take or leave them), but the tape I especially prize is one with a few Baileys that all start with the old King Features logo as did KCIT's prints...and it also contains what is believed to be the only surviving color tape episode of It Takes Two. NBC reportedly erased all the others...but there's always hope more may turn up someday. I hope so--the abortive Mark Phillips remake hosted by Dick Clark on the old Family Channel back in 1997 was kind of a letdown without the old Stan Worth music.


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