Sunday, October 26, 2008

KTXL FOX 40 IS 40! Not So Definitive History Of FOX 40!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FOX 40! or is that HAPPY 40TH ANNIVERSARY FOX 40? Either way, Today is a special day for KTXL FOX 40! At 10:30AM on OCTOBER 26 in 1968, KTXL was born. Its very first show was a classic movie by the name of MEET BOSTON BLACKIE (1941). Its original studio site was in DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO on F Street before moving to its current location on FRUITRIDGE ROAD in SOUTH SACRAMENTO in 1970. However Channel 40 did exist in two previous incarnations with different owners before it became KTXL in 1968. In 1953, It signed on as KCCC-TV and was SACRAMENTO'S FIRST TV STATION and had a combined affiliation of all 4 National TV Networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and the Late DuMONT. Because at the time, The FCC did not require Television Set Manufacturers to include a UHF Tuner, KCCC had a very low viewership. In 1955, KCCC lost its affilations to NBC and CBS to KCRA-TV Channel 3 and KBET-TV (later KXTV) Channel 10, respectively and the DuMONT network folded in 1956. In 1957, KCCC merged its operations (as well as its lone ABC Network) to then INDEPENDENT KOVR-TV Channel 13 (that signed on in 1954) and Channel 40 went dark. Under new ownership in 1959, Channel 40 signed on again as KVUE-TV as an INDEPENDENT TV STATION but it only lasted for six months. In the late 1960's, A group headed by JACK MATRANGA, who was the owner of KGMS-1380 RADIO, got permission to be the new owner of Channel 40 License as CAMELIA CITY TELECASTERS. And KTXL signed on promptly at 10:30AM on OCTOBER 26, 1968. KTXL gained a huge advantage early on when its original owner won the Local Syndication Rights to a Massive Number of Movies including Classic AND Contemporary Films. KTXL also gained the rights to both the MERRIE MELODIES and LOONEY TUNES Cartoons, which at the time was held by 2 different owners. DICK LEESON who worked at both KOVR-TV Channel 13 and KLOC-TV Channel 19, gained employment at KTXL as Production Manager, a job he held for almost 30 Years. Also MITCH ARGRUSS, better known as Children's Host CAPTAIN DELTA at KOVR-TV and later worked briefly at MODESTO INDEPENDENT TV STATION KLOC-TV, joined KTXL and went by the new name of CAPTAIN MITCH. Initially his show (called CAPN'S LOCKER) had a Childrens Audience similar to the KOVR show CARTOONLAND, but eventually KTXL eliminated the audience and CAPTAIN MITCH went solo (with an occasional guest). CAPTAIN MITCH was at KTXL from 1968 until 1984 when, like most TV Stations with Childrens TV Hosts, decided to show Cartoons hostless. Another early staple at KTXL was BIG TIME WRESTLING which was operated by promoter, the late, ROY SHIRES, who controlled the NORTHERN CALIFORNIA region, back in the days when Pro Wrestling was a Regional Pseudo Sport. BIG TIME WRESTLING was hosted by HANK RENNER and was syndicated to other TV Stations in Northern California. Another early staple at KTXL was Horror Movie TV Host BOB WILKINS who left KCRA-TV Channel 3 in 1970. Initially Bob took over the hostless BLACK MUSEUM horror movie show that was on Saturday Nights from 7:PM-8:30PM then it was moved in the summer of 1971 to Sunday Nights at 7:30PM then finally to its Late Saturday Nights at 11:30PM in SEPTEMBER of 1971. Over years, Bob would add a second movie to become a Double Feature and had earlier slots at 10:PM and later at 9:PM, but by 1978 went back solo with just one movie at 11:PM and before its eventual demise, at 11:30PM. In 1974, KTXL started THE 10:00 NEWS. Initially Half An Hour, it later grew to ONE HOUR. It was on the air 5 Days A Week but expanded to Weekends in 1978. In 1979, It became NEWS-PLUS with PETE WILSON with a less formal news set. In 1977, another longtime tradition was THE SUMMER FILM FESTIVAL which lasted until 1986. During this summer tradition, KTXL showed some of the Greatest Movies Ever Made!!! In 1981, KTXL made history by being one of the first commercial tv stations to show an UNCUT, UNEDITED MOVIE (that being THE DEER HUNTER) with Few Commercial Interruptions. At one time, KTXL became a Regional Superstation (like the Bay Area's KTVU-TV Channel 2) and was carried by CABLE TV SYSTEMS in OREGON, NEVADA and MONTANA. In the mid 1980's, KTXL experimented with a MIDDAY NEWS which failed, but by 2005, started a MORNING NEWS that later morphed into FOX 40 LIVE today. In 1985, KTXL's transmission moved to it New 2000 Ft. MONSTER TOWER plus they added STEREO SOUND. As for Competetion, KTXL ruled the roost until KMUV-TV Channel 31 signed on the air on OCTOBER 5, 1974 with an ALL MOVIE Format. While KMUV was able to raid some of the movie packages that KTXL held, some of the most classic and best films were still held at KTXL. KMUV's All Movie format failed (a little ahead of the time) and went SPANISH and KTXL was back to being the Lone English Language INDEPENDENT, that is until APRIL 6, 1981, when the new ownership of Channel 31 changed its calls to KRBK, and FULLY CHALLENGED KTXL with ALMOST IDENTICAL programming. While KRBK had a Large KIDDIE BLOCK (which effectivelly killed off CAPTAIN MITCH's show at KTXL) of CARTOONS as well as CLASSIC TV SHOWS like PERRY MASON, GUNSMOKE, MY THREE SONS and GOMER PYLE, KTXL still had the edge with both MOVIES, NEWS and more CONTEMPORARY SYNDICATED TV PROGRAMMING. In 1986, KTXL became a charter affiliate of the new FOX NETWORK which started out with THE JOAN RIVERS SHOW on weeknights opposite JOHNNY CARSON with the Prime Time Programming starting on APRIL 5, 1987 initially on SUNDAY NIGHTS only. And then the Classic "TV 40" logo became "FOX 40". Eventually, its longtime prime time MOVIES slot (known as THE BIG MOVIE) became FOX TV PROGRAMMING. Another casualty was its LONGTIME ALL NIGHT MOVIES show called NIGHT COMFORT THEATRE hosted by TOM LaBRIE. The all night wasteland that was once the domain of old B grade movies for INSOMNIACS became a mixture of Old SITCOMS and the dreaded INFOMERCIAL, though KTXL isn't as bad as most TV STATIONS. In 1987, JACK MATRANGA decided to retire and sold KTXL to RENAISSANCE BROADCASTING. IN 1997, TRIBUNE COMPANY bought ALL of RENAISSANCE which included KTXL. Right now, one of its longest on air employees is SPORTS DIRECTOR, JIM CRANDELL who started at KTXL in 1984. He later became Main Anchor after the death of TED MULLINS but returned back to Sports in the 1990's. Other Longtime Employees includes reporter LONNIE WONG (1980) and news anchor, DONNA CORDOVA. This history IS NOT DEFINITIVE and I am sure may have errors. Let me know. Most of this information is from emails from DICK LEESON in 1999, the KTXL website ( ), Wikipedia as well as my tireless research at the STOCKTON PUBLIC LIBRARY searching through microfilm of TV GUIDE and THE STOCKTON RECORD newspaper. Also the Artist drawing of the KTXL studios is COURTESY OF KTXL-FOX 40- THANKS MIKE! This week I plan to reprint the TV GUIDE LISTINGS for OCTOBER 26, 1968, trivia facts, ads for KTXL and other tidbits!

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