Phil Beuth was the general manager of ABC30 (KFSN, Channel 30) for only four years. But that’s all he needed to take the local TV station from last to first in the Fresno market.
No wonder the veteran of more than four decades in television calls his time here “a delightful experience.”
Beuth talks in depth about his days in Fresno in his new book, “Limping on Water: My 40-year adventure with one of America’s outstanding communications companies” (Smart Business Network, $24.95). You can buy it at www.amazon.com. Or, if you want an autographed copy, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He left Fresno in 1975 to go to Buffalo, N.Y., and would build on a career with Capital Cities that lasted 40 years before retiring as president of early morning and late-night programming for the the television network in 1995. Capital Cities became Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., which was bought by the Walt Disney Co. in 1996. Economist Warren Buffet has called Capital Cities “the gold standard for ethical corporate behavior accompanied by incredible financial performance.”
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Of his move to Fresno in 1971, Beuth writes: “Fresno was, I have to say, a most welcome change. We found local theater, good schools, better newspapers, modern shopping, gorgeous homes, and dozens of lifestyle amenities absent in Appalachia.”
When contacted about the book, Beuth isn’t surprised to hear that a current hot topic is the rain.
“We talked about that 30 years ago. The Ad Club wrote a live one-hour production that we aired about how Fresno needed a lake,” says Beuth, who now lives in Florida. “I can remember these football players singing to the McDonald’s jingle, ‘We deserve a lake today.’ ”
That live production is just one of many examples of how Beuth threw out the rulebook once he took over the local TV station. He was the guy who suggested the station’s news anchor at the time, Roger Rocka, remove his hairpiece on camera, set up a local fundraising concert featuring Frank Sinatra and finally brought color to the station’s black-and-white broadcast.
He says the station was “just awful,” but the changes he made took it to first place in a matter of weeks. He jokes that he bought a home in Yosemite just weeks before being moved to the New York station.
The book chronicles Beuth’s long and much-heralded career in television, along with providing insights into his own personal battles.
Beuth is happy he helped turn KFSN around, but he takes deep pride in the community work that was started during his time here. He was instrumental in reviving the Fresno chapter of the United Cerebral Palsy in the early 1970s and the station broadcast its telethons. Beuth was born with cerebral palsy, but he didn’t let that slow him down.
“The public came first followed by advertisers and then stockholders,” Beuth says. “We just locked ourselves to community. If you do good, you will do well.”
Charity work has always been a priority with Beuth. He pressed ABC into devoting three hours of programming to AIDS awareness, the first network to show such support. Beuth’s son, who had AIDS, died at age 34.
Change at KSEE24
KSEE24’s Carina Corral, who has been at the local NBC station since January 2013, is heading back to KSBY, the NBC affiliate for the San Luis Obispo/Santa Maria/Santa Barbara market. Corral worked there for nine years before coming to Fresno to co-anchor the morning show.
Her first day on the air there will be Jan. 19. She will be the station’s main news anchor.
The move is getting positive reaction on the local anchor’s Facebook page from KSBY viewers in the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara area.
Matthew A. Rosenfeld, vice president/general manager KSEE24/CBS47, says work has started to find Corral’s replacement and candidates “both internal and external” are being interviewed. He adds that it’s too early in the process to say when a decision will be made.
Mildred Shirin, the mother of Mark Shirin, president of Ventura Broadcasting Co. , died on New Year’s Day. She was 85.
“My sister, Jill, my wife, Margaret, and myself mourn the passing of our sweet mother and co-founder of the family business,” Mark Shirin writes.
Mildred Shirin got to see her son expand the local store into Ventura Broadcasting, a company that broadcasts 28 local TV stations through digitally dividing four low-power TV channels. The majority of the broadcaster’s channels can only be seen by using an antenna.
It looks like the TV ratings system is getting some fine tuning. Nielsen, the leading source of TV viewing habits, has stopped using the diary for local demographic measurement and will use a new meter called the Code Reader.
This means the company will no longer be counting on the memory of TV watchers to write down what they have been viewing. It will have an electronic measurement. This will give an accurate picture of what locals are watching.