Less than a year after the Larry H. Miller Group purchased KJZZ-Ch. 14, the local television station has laid off a big chunk of its work force - including assistant general manager J. Spencer Kinard.

The station let a dozen full- and part-time employees go Wednesday - more than 20 percent of the approximately 50 staffers KJZZ employed before the cutbacks. Those losing jobs included office personnel, production staff and support staff.KJZZ General Manager John Martin said that his main emphasis since Miller bought the station in mid-January has been getting ready for Utah Jazz broadcasts by installing nearly 30 translator stations to increase Ch. 14's broadcast reach, as well as a back-up transmitter, representing an investment of hundreds of thousands of dol-lars.

"We were operating at a higher level in order to get a lot of these things done," Martin said. "Now that most of those things are behind us, basically what we have done is reorganize the operation to match revenues and expenses, and that led to some layoffs."

It's no secret that Ch. 14 has never earned large profits. That fact was stipulated in the purchase agreement when Miller bought the station from American Stores.

And the layoffs come two weeks after Robert D. Frank Jr., chief operating officer of the Larry H. Miller Group, met with station executives and insisted that they increase revenue and cut expenses.

The ratings from the November sweeps period didn't do much to help the station. Reportedly, station officials were hoping to average a 3 rating. KJZZ averaged a 1.

The goal of 3 seemed rather unrealistic. That's the rating Fox owned-and-operated KSTU-Ch. 13 averaged, and not only is that station well-established in the market, but it operates with a much stronger VHF signal to KJZZ's UHF.

And even Jazz broadcasts didn't do as well as KJZZ had hoped. The games during the November sweeps averaged a 12 rating, 7 points lower than the games broadcast on KSTU in November 1992.

"There are some disappointments with the ratings," Martin said. "That's something we're continuing to evaluate. . . Some of these things are going to take time."

Among the items under evaluation - and under the gun - is KJZZ's Kids' Club, tied to its afternoon cartoon lineup.

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In addition to cutting Kinard loose, the station also has dropped its public affairs programming, which Kinard hosted - the weekly "Utah Matters" half hour and the monthly call-in show with Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Kinard, the former longtime news director at KSL-Ch. 5, said he was disappointed not only in losing his position but in the apparent change of focus KJZZ has taken.

"In my opinion, they've given up on trying to become a TV station," Kinard said. "It appears to me that they just want an outlet for the Jazz, and I think that's awfully short-sighted."

"This is a very competitive environment, and we're trying to get in a position to compete," Martin said.

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