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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Did Dave Ward, Ed Brandon and Bob Allen really walk around Houston together all the time?

Former KTRK abc13 staffer Margaret Shilstone reveals how Will Ferrell's 'Anchorman' got it right

 photo ktrk_1972_promo_zps199b10ff.jpg

Margaret Shilstone worked for the KTRK abc13 promotions department for decades. After I posted about Dave Ward's lost 1972 promos, Shilstone wrote a guest blog post for us talking about the good old days of TV marketing.

I loved watching the “lost” Dave Ward promos on your blog. Textbook 70s!

I was part of the KTRK Promotion/Creative Services department for 35 years and began my career working in a two-person promo team along with Charlie Wolf. I can’t recall how many of those “Move Closer to Your World” promos we produced in the 70s. After watching the Ward promos, you can understand the authenticity of the promo scenes during that era if you saw “Anchorman” with Will Ferrell.

During promo shoots, Charlie and I - as well as Dave Ward, Ed Brandon and Bob Allen (who replaced Dan Lovett) – would always laugh when we shot the final promo scene of the anchors walking downtown, going to the zoo, etc. We were certain we had successfully convinced Houston viewers that our three anchors hung out together all the time! Sometimes I wonder if the “happy anchor family” final scene used by all stations, everywhere, could have been the precursor to the term, “dysfunctional family”! Luckily that wasn’t the case with our news team because they really were – and I think still are friends.

There were only three news stations to choose from in the 70s. Channel 13 was the big hitter and we used to joke that the station could put up a test pattern and still win the time period. In the 90s, Tom Ash joined the station. The department size increased and we used place bets we could get an 18-rating for the 10pm news just because of how we promoted the lead stories. Only an 18-rating? Sometimes, we even succeeded in getting a 20+!

Those “smug” days ended with the advent of cable as we watched the number of channels and choices increase weekly. Rather than splitting “the pie into thirds”, stations today face a 200+ piece of pie to split. I compare today’s audience competition with the saying, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and I have on Milk Bone underwear!”

Thanks Margaret. These days you can find Shilstone performing marketing/communications duties for the Family Services of Greater Houston which is celebrating 110 years of service in the community.

KPRC, KHOU, KTRK newscast opens from 1979 to present; plus DFW too

KTRK abc13 promos through the years that are available on YouTube:

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