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KTKA 49 Topeka ends 'Talk of the Town'

July 18, 2003
The Capital-Journal

KTKA-TV has laid off six full-time and two part-time employees since it discontinued its "Talk of the Town" show July 11, the station's general manager said Thursday.

"That show just wasn't pulling down the ratings," said Bob Fulmer, KTKA-TV general manager. "It was a well-done show that wasn't embraced."

During the May 2003 ratings period, KTKA recorded a 0 share, down from its 1 share in May 2002, according to Nielsen ratings. The shares represent the percentage of households in the area tuned to the particular station. For the same 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. time period, 10 percent of households were tuned to WIBW-TV's news program, down from 11 percent in May 2002. KSNT-TV's news program at the same time recorded 8 percent of households tuned in, up from 5 percent in May 2002.

"Talk of the Town," which billed itself as 30 minutes of "good news," began airing in June 2002. Two months earlier, in April, KTKA-TV had discontinued its news broadcasts, eliminating nine full-time and 17 part-time positions.

Betty Lou Pardue, one of the anchors for "Talk of the Town," said the show's on-air and production staff members were told at 10 a.m. July 10 that the next day's show would be its last.

"I think we had a good quality show, they just didn't give us time to build an audience," Pardue said, noting she thought the show hadn't been very heavily promoted. Pardue, who had been employed by KTPK 106.9 on the air from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays, said she also was let go from that position.

Meteorologist Dave Relihan will continue providing the station's 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. weather forecasts through July 31, Fulmer said. After that, the station is looking to purchase weather forecasting services from a company that provides the locally tailored broadcasts to a number of stations.

"The Locker Room Show," which aired Friday nights at 10:30 p.m. has been put on hiatus, but the locally produced, monthly "Contacto Latino" program will continue, he said. Fulmer said two production employees who worked on "Talk of the Town" have been moved to the station's promotion and marketing department.

The show "Extra" has been placed in the 5 p.m. weekday slot with "That 70s Show" following at 6 p.m., Fulmer said.

KTKA is owned by the Northeast Kansas Broadcasting Co., owned by Berl Brechner, of New York. The company, which also owns KTPK, owns another television station in Salisbury, Md., and an outdoor company in Ohio.