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)


When serving as KATV vice president 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 in the 2009 Arkansas Business interview.

Nicholson faced a similar decision in the 1990s, when ABC began distributing "NYPD Blue," an edgy police drama that included adult language and nudity. While stations in some markets, including Dallas, chose not to air the drama, Nicholson did.

"It was just always my feeling if something that's really bad you should at least give it a try," he said. "If it is bad, nobody will watch it. It's all driven by ratings."

Nicholson also drew political criticism during the 2000 presidential election, when he appeared in an on-air endorsement of George W. Bush. Democrats accused the station of bias and not giving equal time to their party.

In a 2008 interview with Little Rock Soirée magazine, Nicholson mentioned that endorsement as his "most memorable."

"...[T]he FCC took away the requirement of equal time," he said. "I was the only one in America who took advantage of the decision and endorsed George Bush for president."

Eye for Talent

Talented anchors also drive ratings, Nicholson told Arkansas Business in 2009. And during his tenure, several big names were brought to the market.

Nicholson hired the late Paul Eells, who became a beloved sports anchor and announcer, as well as weatherman Ned Perme, whom then-news director Jim Pitcock lured away from a station in Mobile, Ala.

Nicholson also brought B.J. Sams to Little Rock. Sams also retired in 2009, after 56 years in television, ultimately as a morning anchor for Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, Channel 11.

While Nicholson was around for television's switch to color and several other developments, he told Arkansas Business that he happy to retire and leave current GM Rose to take on new challenges.

KATV's Obituary Video

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