M.D. Smith's Introduction Speech

Center with Ken Rainey & Dave Stanley

Speech given Sat. Aug 23, 2003 before intro of alumni at Ditto Landing

To have 50% of the adult audience for a newscast is powerful stuff. Yet, thatís what Channel 31 did in the 70ís, in the 80ís and early 90ís. We hit numbers that made history. All of you here tonight were a part of either the building process to get there, or being on top and trying to stay there. Either way, it was always a challenge, usually fun and at the same time we always had to make a profit to stay in business and grow.

We beat Channel 19 in 1975 with 50,000 homes and a 38 share of homes overall.

We beat Channel 19 in 1981 with a 50% share of All Adults at 6:00 and a 45% share at 10:00. We beat them a lot of years in between as well. Channel 48 was a poor 3rd for most of those years until recently.

Certainly the anchor teams were strong and talented people that we assembled over the years. There were many changes and sometimes it took a while to regain our #1 position again, but through research and tireless efforts to be Number One, it happened.

It took the entire staff, not just the anchors, however. Promotion had to do their job advertising and promoting these people and the newscasts. Engineering had to keep equipment working, both on-air as well as the cameras and recorders and live equipment. Production had to produce slick, error free newscasts that showed the audience why we were the leading station. We had to resist cramming in too many commercials when we were #1, so as not to run viewers away and leave room for content, but it was nice to make the money while we could. It helped us continue to grow and give raises. Political times were both a blessing (for the money) and a headache to schedule and work with politicians and their staff.

In 1981, Channel 48 and Channel 19 had moved down the mountain, while we continued to expand and/or patch up the old, original building on the mountain. We were referred to as "That Bucket of Bolts On The Hill" in one competitor's meeting. (We monitored their 2-way conversations, also). They were saying, "how could 'That Bucket of Bolts On The Hill' beat a station with state of the art facilities, building and location." The answer was, it's what the audience sees on the air that matters and the morale of the people at the TV station. We spent money for on-air and for morale because that's what mattered, not how pretty and new the building was. Us beating Channel 19 caused the demise of more than one News Director and also General Manager (as was also the case at 48)

I can remember many a department head meeting where arguments would break out about conflicts with news, engineering, production, traffic, promotion and every other department (including janatorial). But it was because we all cared and wanted everything we supervised to be the best. That's what it takes to win. It takes caring, a strong desire to win and a lot of heart (Ask Seabiscuit).

Tonight, I want you to meet some of the alumni from 1963 through 1999. No matter what they did at 31, they are all winners in my judgement. And now, here are the WINNERS!!!

© 2003 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update 8-25-2003]