CHANNEL 4- PRO AND CON
AS A CHANNEL 4 employee, I really enjoyed your article [“Something’s Rotten in 4 Country,” August] about some of the recent events there. The stories you related are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and are only symptoms of the real problem, which is that the few people with any authority in the Times Mirror Broadcasting organization know a great deal more about money than about broadcasting.
Your article in D Magazine almost came out and said that Bill Baker is solely responsible for having thrown away Channel 4’s once-favorable position in the ratings race. That’s just about what he’s done, by concentrating on monetary profit in the short term. Channel 8 spends a lot more money on its operation because they have longer-range plans, and they’ve been paid back many times for their previous investments that built Channel 8 into a technical wonderland.
The best KDFW can do is imitate WFAA. An example of this is PM Magazine, which Channel 8 discarded and Channel 4 picked up. Obviously, if anybody were still watching PM Magazine, it would still be on Channel 8. Bill Baker just can’t pass up a bargain, no matter how little it’s worth.
The Times Mirror folks, like so many others, hire consultants to make the decisions that the station managers should be able to make. In other words, even though their TV stations have managers, the managers only do what the consultants say is okay. This accounts for many of the incredibly bad programming decisions they make. (This also explains why KDFW produces such awful promotional spots, which try to show that Channel 4 personalities are universally popular and infinitely sweet.)
Channel 4’s problems won’t go away until someone who can make his own decisions buys the place and abandons the stale ideas that the Times Mirror boys swear by. The only way to influence Bill Baker is by embarrassing him in public, as I’m sure you did in your article. I hope your article will result in some changes.
Name withheld by request
PARDON MY CONFUSION, but is D Magazine in the business of publishing informative and entertaining journalism or the publicity releases of Belo Broadcasting? After reading “Something’s Rotten in 4 Country,” I have to wonder.
It was bad enough that you compared the management of the KDFW Channel 4 news team to that of the Kremlin, but repeatedly extolling the virtues of watching WFAA Channel 8 news was going too far. Who decided that you people were the last word in media criticism, anyway?
Since you hardly mentioned them in your article, I suppose I might as well inform you that KXAS Channel 5 also has a news team. Of course, they’re not involved in the current publicity battle between Channels 4 and 8, so I guess they didn’t rate space in your story.
Personally, I don’t waste my time with local television news. In my opinion, it’s more sensationalized video drama than anything else. That’s why I find it hard to believe that your magazine would plug one local news broadcast and denounce another. . .especially when only two out of the three major news teams were compared.
FIRST, LET ME tell you how flattered I am that your magazine recognized the KERA-FM Friday morning sports talk show on its tenth anniversary. But on another item, let me express how distressed I am to have been left out of that extremely lengthy list of Channel 4 TV exes in your feature on the station. Judy Jordan and Ray Walker were included in that list, and, along with Warren Culbertson, we formed the station’s first 5 o’clock anchor team. Being a 4 ex has become a kind of “Red Badge of Courage” in the business, a cherished line on one’s resume. That group of exes contains some very heavy hitters and some remarkably accomplished people. To have been excluded is, indeed, a cross to bear. People who may have based their entire decision to hire you on the fact that Channel 4 once dismissed you can become pretty suspicious after reading [this] article and not seeing the name mentioned. Please, please print this letter so that I can again have the public peace of mind of knowing that I, like so many of those other terrific journalists, will be recognized as being amongst that large and unselect group of has-beens at Channel 4. In conclusion, however, I’d also like to say that I can understand that problem you faced in that story. Your magazine’s August issue contained just 168 pages. That would have never been enough space to include all of us exes.
Sports Director, Home Sports Entertainment
I’M A SOMETIME fan of D Magazine, but the story on Channel 4 was downright tacky. Whatever your intention (help a media competitor self-destruct?) you truly succeeded only in creating sympathy for an underdog.
You do not give Dennis Holder’s credentials for writing this bit of virulence, though on your Editor’s Page he is referred to as “noted media critic Dennis Holder.” Noted? Come on! Perhaps the noted was more obvious because, just eight or 10 lines preceding the Holder reference, the same word was used to describe Gael Greene.
But your editor drew the right conclusion in her last paragraph (re: the brouhaha over The Dallas Morning News’ criticism of Channel 4 and the response from that station’s Harris) when she wrote, “It is easy to see where this leads: Viewers’ faith in the accuracy and objectivity of reporting in this town will be undermined. And if viewers can’t believe in media criticism of other media, or see it merely as a marketing tactic, everybody loses.” True. Everybody. And not just in this town but in any town. As for marketing tactics, almost nobody will believe that you would have used the Holder piece if you had been holding space in the August issue, or space in any future issue, for a full-page, full-color ad from Channel 4.
Take a look at your own operation. There have been two or three editors in the past five years, changes in presidents and countless other shifts. Is everybody happy? Take a look too at The Dallas Morning News and Channel 8. As for me, I’ll be looking at Channel 5.
There’s another thing: I cannot believe Chip Moody would have been naive enough to say he was going to Houston to “take Dan Rather’s old job.” Rather had been gone for 15, maybe 20 years. Had the Houston station not found a replacement before they chose Moody?
Don’t blow an opportunity to provide a respectable magazine.
Holder has been a contributing editor of the Washington Journalism Review since 1980. He has written numerous articles on national and local television and print media. He is a former media critic for the Dallas Downtown News; in that capacity, he was asked by Channel 4 to join a panel of media critics who scrutinized Dallas journalism during the 1984 GOP convention. Apparently, his credentials were good enough for Channel 4 at the time. D stands by our story and our comments on Harris.
THE TRUTH ABOUT EULESS
I ENJOYED VERY much your July 1985 article [“1985 Guide for Newcomers”] relating to the brief profiles of Dallas area cities. I did want to note a couple of corrections. The city of Euless presently has three (3) fire stations, not one (1). Also, the statement, “It is just now getting its first grocery store,” is incorrect. Easy Way Market has been in our city even prior to the city’s incorporation in 1953. We have several other grocery stores within our city limits, including Tom Thumb, Safeway, Winn Dixie and other smaller community grocery stores.
I hope that next year your statement of Euless’ being “a mid-city that is fast outgrowing its services” will be omitted. We actually are very proud of our record in being able to keep up with the fast growth and still provide ample and, in many cases, excellent city services.
Harold D. Samuels
Mayor of Euless
RELIGIOUS RADIO: MEDIA CENSORSHIP?
YOUR JULY ISSUE presents a listing of 30 area radio stations [“Touch That Dial,” July]. Missing from that listing are all of the local Christian stations. According to one of your staff members, this was not an oversight but, in fact, there was a deliberate decision to exclude them. You suggest that a separate section for Christian radio may be considered later. This is not acceptable! The Judeo-Christian lifestyle is an integral part of our society’s fabric and must not be segregated to its own “separate but equal” page.
The media often casts Christians as being “the censors” in our society. In this case, however, Christians have been made “the censored” by the media. It is in black and white in your magazine.
CHRISTIAN RADIO WAS not represented among the 30 stations you listed in your guide to area radio stations. KPBC, which has been airing Christian programming since 1973, has more listeners than 14 of the stations listed in your review. The July issue of Broadcasting Magazine reports that there are now 499 religious stations listed by the Radio Information Center in New York, making it the fifth most popular of 17 formats listed.
Many of your readers listen to Christian radio, and many newcomers to the Metro-plex will want to know where to tune to hear Christian music and programs. I hope you’ll include us in your next radio review. We’re at 1040 AM.
KPBC Station Manager
LETTUCE HOPE SO
FOR SHAME! APPARENTLY, the salad days at D are over. I refer, of course, to your article purporting to enlighten the proletariat on just which salad greens are IN this week and which will mark you as a nose-picking cretin should you be seen munching them [“Salad Chic,” August). Let us overlook the cloying childishness of phrases like “Bugs Bunny heaven,” which was only the tip of the iceberg, and go right to the heart of the matter. Before radicchio slips into terminal irrelevance (“last year’s lettuce,” you call it), let’s learn just what it is and what it looks like. Your picture of watercress and your picture of radicchio need to be reversed! Such errors leave us thankful that you didn’t confuse mache with machetes and curly endive with Larry, Curly and Moe.
HELP FOR LATCHKEY KIDS
THE ARTICLE “Latchkey Kids” in your July 1985 issue was welcome but perhaps overly pessimistic and negative. A great deal is currently going on in Dallas to address this growing need, and there are some exciting collaborations among youth-serving agencies.
Over 30 child-serving agencies have been meeting since January to start a “warm-line” in Dallas for children at home alone after school. The warm-line, called KID-TALK, will be housed at the Lone Star Council of Camp Fire, staffed by at least 50 volunteers and operational by November 4.
KID-TALK is designed to deal with chil-drens’ emotional needs, school-related problems and emergency situations.
Self-reliance courses were criticized as hurrying children, scaring children and being too advanced for their emotional and educational needs. Camp Fire, the American Red Cross, Boy Scouts and other organizations all teach self-reliance courses. Each has over 75 years of history serving children. Self-reliance courses are not designed to say it’s okay to leave a child alone; rather, they are designed to address situations that are already happening. No self-reliance course is a self-care course. It is a self-help course to help teach children to become more responsible family members.
The article ends with a call for a uniform child care policy in Dallas and calls the seven or more options discussed “isolated although well-intentioned.”
Many community resources are currently being used to meet these challenges. Dallas has many champions in the cause of latchkey children, and a great deal of positive, exciting work is being done here to address the need.
Lone Star Council of Camp Fire
MADD GOES TOO FAR
SHERMAKAYE BASS’ report on the DWI trial of Michael Bloom [“Inside Dallas/ Fort Worth,” August] is not an accurate account of what took place. Unlike Ms. Kirk [of Mothers Against Drunk Driving], who never appeared in the courtroom or reviewed any part of the case at all, I was an observer in the courtroom. Had Ms. Kirk bothered to check the record she would have discovered that a) Mr. Bloom is not a District Attorney; b) Judge Moss did not make the quote attributed to him by Ms. Kirk; and c) Judge Orvis did not probate the sentence, the jury did.
Judge Moss was asked if he considered DWI a serious crime. He answered, “I have difficulty calling it a crime since it is not in the Penal Code… I do, however, consider it a serious problem.” This was strictly an accurate statement of the law. The DWI Statute is part of the Texas Civil Statutes, Article 67.01(1). Judge Moss’ reply was obviously a lawyer being technical and not an attempt to minimize the seriousness of DWIs.
D regrets the errors.
RIPPING THE REDSKINS
RE: “Hog Haters” by Paul Wattles [September]. Okay, I’ll do it! I’ll make the supreme sacrifice and spend more time this season hating the Washington Redskins.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody.. .well, you know.
Jan R. Skinner
CHANNEL 4- PRO AND CON