KATV: Long-Time General Manager Dale Nicholson Has Died

by Lance Turner  on Monday, Jun. 3, 2013 5:05 pm  

Dale Nicholson in 2009. (Photo by Jason Burt)

"One which comes to mind first, he once told me, 'Hire good people and stay out of their way ... coach, support, and encourage. But allow people to lead or they will never become a leader.'" 

Steve Sullivan, KATV's sports director, said in a post Monday on KATV's website that Nicholson was a "TV giant" who was to television in Arkansas what Frank Broyles was to UA athletics.

"Coach Broyles had his hands over just about every big decision that was made in Fayetteville during his long run," Sullivan wrote. "The same can be said about Dale Nicholson and KATV. He was the right guy for the right time."

Bob Steel was news director for KATV from 1994-2001. On his "First News" radio show Monday on KARN-FM, 102.9, in Little Rock, he called Nicholson "a terrific individual and just a great broadcaster."

Speaking to Arkansas Business, Steel said Nicholson had "a great broadcast gut" and instinctively knew what worked and what didn't when it came to newscast personalities, content and ideas.

"His management style motivated you and really convinced you that this was a great business," he said.

Steel said he'd had lunch with Nicholson last week, and that his friend had traveled to Germany and Spain in the last year, been playing golf and working on his new house.

Long-Running Leader

Nicholson began his career in broadcasting in 1960 at KTVE-TV in El Dorado. He began working for KATV in 1962 as a booth announcer. In an interview with Arkansas Business around the time he retired as general manager, he recounted his early days at the station, where did everything from serving as a sports anchor to working in sales.

By 1974, Nicholson had been promoted to local sales manager. Two years later, he left KATV to form Roberts Mitchell & Nicholson, an advertising agency that he later said "couldn't make ends meet." Eight months later, he was back at KATV, learning how to run the station under Robert "Bob" Doubleday, who was then general manager.

In 1983, Leake Industries of Muskogee, Okla., which started KATV in 1953, sold the station to the Allbritton family. After the deal was complete, Nicholson became general manager in 1984. He would go on to become the longest-serving general manager in the Little Rock television market.

(Allbritton Communications Co. of Arlington, Va., continues to own KATV, along with WJLA in Washington D.C. and Politico, an online political news website. In May, it announced plans to sell all its TV properties and focus on Politico.)



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