KATV: Long-Time General Manager Dale Nicholson Has Died:
Dale Nicholson, who presided over one of Arkansas’ most influential television stations for 25 years as general manager, died at his Little Rock home on Saturday. He was 74.
Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV-TV, Channel 7, where Nicholson spent nearly all of his professional career, announced Nicholson’s death on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon.
“We have some sad news to pass along … we’re saying goodbye to an old friend of KATV’s tonight,” the Allbritton Communications-owned TV station said. ”Our Chairman and former General Manager Dale Nicholson died at his home in Little Rock last night. He was 74.”
The lead to my piece on Dale Nicholson, one of last true media giants still walking among us Arkansans. Great anecdotes abound about Nicholson, the young man with the booming voice who arrived at KATV in 1962 to take a job as booth announcer. Former KATV news director Bob Steel tells of Nicholson once declaring that he could run KATV out of the trunk of his car better than ABC could program its network. Having led the affiliate during some of ABC darker, low-ratings years, Nicholson probably wasn’t far off the mark. This guy knew TV. And the long-running success of KATV is a testament to that.
If you want to get symbolic, you could view Nicholson’s passing as another sign of how the TV business continues to be buffeted by radical change, mostly in the form of the Internet, and mostly not for the better. Hell, it was just a few weeks ago that a former student of Nicholson’s, Robert Allbritton, announced his intention to get out of the traditional TV business entirely to focus on the Internet, specifically a website called Politico. You might know Allbritton as the CEO of Allbritton Communications Co., which has owned KATV since 1983. Allbritton plans to sell all its TV properties, KATV included, by the end of the summer.
But few want to get symbolic. Not Nicholson’s friends, not his coworkers, certainly not his family. They just miss their friend and patriarch, affectionally dubbed “Big Pard.” Nicholson, the young man with a booming voice, but also a mentor, an innovator, a father and a friend.