Phil Donahue is changing his Salt Lake City address.
Beginning May 30 his Donahue talk show will be seen locally on KUTV (Ch. 2) weekdays at 4 p.m., leaving his 9 a.m. home on KTVX (Ch. 4) to another practitioner of socially relevant conversation, Geraldo Rivera and Geraldo! But why?As you might expect, the bottom line for this round of musical chat shows has to do with dollars and cents. Multimedia Productions, the "Donahue" syndicator, has been anxious to get the show into a late afternoon time period where larger audiences mean it can command a bigger advertising dollar. But KTVX has been reluctant to make the change for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, the shows KTVX already has in place in the afternoon have been performing well. And for another, KTVX programmer Gordon Acker said, "the kind of subject matter that often comes up on `Donahue' seems unsuitable to us at an hour when children are home from school and watching TV."
So when the "Donahue" contract came up for renewal as of the end of May, KUTV let the show's syndicators know that they would be willing to place the show in the late afternoon slot. No - "willing" isn't quite the right word. They were anxious to put the show in at 4 p.m., where the station has struggled with the soon-to-be-canceled "Wil Shriner Show."
"`Donahue' is probably the best syndicated product available for that time period," said KUTV programmer Maria Smith.
And KTVX didn't try to stand in the way of the new marriage. "It's a good show," Acker said of "Donahue," "but there comes a point where you just can't afford to do everything they want you to do."
So KUTV got what it wanted.
But now KTVX had a hole in its schedule - a hole that "Geraldo!" looked like a natural to fill. "All of the talk shows - `Oprah,' `Donahue,' `Geraldo!' - cover the same kind of subjects," Acker said. "They just do it differently. And since `Geraldo!' is a pretty good show that will probably just get better, it seemed like the logical choice to fill the slot."
KUTV had a contract with Paramount Studios for "Geraldo!," but that contract provided an escape in case another station in the market wanted the show for a better time period. And even though 9 a.m. isn't as good as 4 p.m., it's sure a lot better than 1 o'clock in the morning, which is where KUTV has been playing it. So KTVX gets "Geraldo!"
"That was fine with us," Smith said, adding that Ch. 2 will probably just sign off after "David Letterman" for now.
Acker took a more guarded view. "On the surface it looks like everyone should come out OK," he said. "But we'll have to wait and see how the ratings look in November before we'll know for sure." - Joseph Walker.