KATV's Nicholson Recalls His Tenure

by Mark Hengel  on Monday, Aug. 17, 2009 12:00 am  

It's the end of an era. As many know, Little Rock television fixture Dale Nicholson has announced he'll be stepping down as president and general manager of KATV-TV, Channel 7.

Mark Rose, KATV's station manager, will take over day-to-day operations on Oct. 1. Nicholson, 69, will continue working as a consultant for the station.

Nicholson first joined the ABC affiliate in 1962 and has quite a few memories of his time, so let's recap a few.

Nicholson got the job after working as an announcer for a station in El Dorado. As Nicholson tells it, he called KATV and gained an audition. The audition earned him a spot at the station making $1.89 per hour, he said.

Nicholson did everything from serving as a sports anchor to working in sales during his first tenure at the station.

Nicholson worked at the station for about a decade before leaving - briefly - to form Roberts Mitchell & Nicholson, an ad agency that "couldn't make ends meet."

He was rehired by KATV as vice president and general manager, a position he held for about three years. During this time, Robert "Bob" Doubleday, who ran KATV, mentored Nicholson on how to run the station.

Nicholson took control of the station in 1975, beginning his 34-year tenure as top manager in the market.

In 1976, Nicholson oversaw the station's ownership transition. Lake Industries of Muskogee, Okla., sold the station to the Allbritton family, which continues to own KATV under the name Allbritton Communications Co. of Arlington, Va.

The Allbritton family thought enough of the Little Rock station and Nicholson to send their son, Robert, to the station for a crash course in television. Robert Allbritton is currently Allbritton Communications' CEO.

In 1977, Nicholson had to decide whether to air "Roots," the groundbreaking miniseries that chronicled the life of slaves in the American South. Nicholson decided to air it.

"It was a very controversial program at the time," Nicholson said.



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