Not Scaling Back, LA’s KCAL Marks 20 Years in Primetime

By Andrew Gauthier 

Los Angeles Times

KCAL news anchor Pat Harvey can still recall her edgy excitement generated decades ago by not only the imminent launch of an ambitious and historic broadcast but also by widespread predictions of failure.

It was March 5, 1990, as the now veteran broadcaster positioned herself behind the anchor desk, the focus of a sparkling new set on a Paramount Studios sound stage. After months of planning, a rash of hirings and upgrades that cost more than $30 million, she was on the front lines of an unprecedented experiment — a nightly three-hour newscast. The occasion marked the first time a commercial station had devoted its evening programming to news instead of entertainment.

Many television news experts saw the maneuver by the station’s then owner, the Walt Disney Co., as a groundbreaking and expensive gamble. And more than just rivals viewed the enterprise as folly and destined for financial disaster. More…