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KTVX’S LOW-TECH LOOK ISN’T PERMANENT

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The first thing KTVX News Director John Edwards wants you to know is that that rather . . . shall we say, Spartan? . . . news set his staff was working on last week was not - repeat, not - the new permanent base of operations for the Ch. 4 news.

"It was ugly, wasn't it?" Edwards said, chuckling, when asked about the austere metal desks that were pushed together in the KTVX news room to make a temporary set for the Ch. 4 news last week. The effect, he admitted, gave the appearance of being a cross between Broadcasting 101 and Soviet TV."We were kind of hoping that if we looked Russian enough some aliens might drop in for a visit," Edwards joked.

But alas, none did - although the KTVX News did have a sort of low-tech "Lost in Space" look to it last week.

That, however, ends this week when the station introduces its brand new look, complete with a new news set, new music and a new graphic design. In fact, the new look is why the station had to go to the Siberian look. Builders needed time in the studio to construct the new set, so Edwards and his staff had to take their electronic toys elsewhere for a week.

And now they're ready to put the staff and the new news set together. Beginning Monday it's good-bye, state of confusion - hello, state of the art.

According to Edwards, this is the first set change for KTVX since Karen Carnes turned Phil Riesen from a one-man band into a co-anchor about four years ago.

"We think we've grown a lot since then," Edwards said. "And we wanted a set that reflects who we are now, not what we were then.

"We're the equal - or better - of anyone in this market right now," Edwards continued. "We wanted a set that says that."

So instead of having the new set designed in-house (even though former KTVX designer Shelly Moss "did a wonderful job" coming up with the current set, according to Edwards), they went to two of the leading TV news set designers in the country and asked them to submit bids. KTVX engineers, producers and technicians were given a chance to make recommendations and alterations.

"We fell in love with one design almost immediately," Edwards said. "It looked great on paper. And now that we see the reality, it looks even better. It's functional, fully operational and it says what we want it to say."

And best of all, it doesn't look a thing like what they were working on last week.

-ONE PERSON WHO won't be working on KTVX's new set - at least, not for a month or so - is reporter John Harrington. The sometimes controversial newsman is taking a short leave of absence from Ch. 4 to accept an invitation to help a new television network news operation in New Zealand get started.

"They haven't had a lot of competition over there before," Harrington said last week, "and so they felt they needed someone from a competitive market to show them how to compete."

And who better to show them that than Harrington, one of the most aggressive television reporters in the market?

So for the next month Harrington will take his tough journalistic style to New Zealand. And then?

"I'm planning to be back by Thanksgiving," he said.

But what if you like them and they like you? Isn't there a chance you'll just stay?

"I suppose there's always that chance," Harrington said. "But that isn't my plan going in."

Edwards likewise plans on seeing Harrington back in the office by Nov. 20.

"This is a unique opportunity for John to experience something brand new," Edwards said. "He's been here for seven years and he's worked hard for us. He deserves the opportunity."

And he's taking it - at least for the next month or so.

-HAVE YOU NOTICED that charming public service announcement for Major League Baseball - you know, the one with Nolan Ryan, in which a young Nolan Ryan is seen throwing a ball through the side of a barn? It was produced for Major League Baseball by Bonneville Media Communications of Salt Lake City.

Great work, BMC!

-HERE'S ONE LATE-NIGHT programming change that you should be aware of:

- CBS has decided that there really is such a thing as too much of Pat Sajak, and they're going to shorten the 90-minute "Pat Sajak Show" to 60 minutes. "After nine months on the air," said CBS Vice President Rod Perth, "it is apparent that the hour talk show format in late night is much more conducive to a livelier, faster-paced broadcast that will be much more appealing not only to the `Pat Sajak' audience but to the CBS affiliate family as well."

CBS has the right idea, but they haven't gone quite far enough. Sajak is much more comfortable in the half-hour format. With a big wheel. And a female sidekick named Vanna.