KOKH, KAUT to Change Operations on Thursday

Article excerpt

By Darrell Morrow Feature Editor Television station KAUT-TV Fox 43 is scheduled to sign off the air permanently midnight Wednesday.

It will sign on again at 6 a.m. Thursday, merged with KOKH-TV Channel 25 under the call letters KOKH-TV Fox 25 and transmitting from the Channel 25 1,540-foot tower at 1228 E. Wilshire Blvd. The old KOKH will conclude its programming at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

"Thursday morning the change will have taken place. KOKH will still be called KOKH and KAUT will still be called KAUT, but our programming will have moved over to KOKH, and OETA's programming will have moved in here to KAUT," said Harlan Reams, general manager of KAUT.

The best programming of both KAUT and KOKH will be retained in the new KOKH Fox 25, Reams said.

The $7.5 million acquisition of KOKH 25 from Gillette Broadcasting of Oklahoma Inc. by KAUT Fox 43 owner Heritage Media Corp. of Dallas will be completed Wednesday afternoon, Reams said.

Heritage will acquire all the property of KOKH in the transaction, including the 26,000-square-foot broadcasting facility and offices, tower and about 40 acres of land on which they are located, Reams said.

Reams has been chosen by Heritage to be general manager of KOKH-TV Fox 25.

Staffs of the two stations will be merged Thursday as the KAUT station facility at 11901 N. Eastern Ave. is relinquished to Oklahoma Educational Television Authority's OETA-TV to be operated as OETA-KAUT Channel 43 "The Literacy Channel." It will be the second channel for OETA-TV, which broadcasts in Oklahoma City on Channel 13.

OETA-KAUT 43 is scheduled to sign on the air with its first programming at 7 a.m. Thursday with an exercise program.

Heritage Media Corp. of Dallas has donated Channel 43's assignment, transmitter, transmission line, antenna and master control equipment, all of which is valued at about $1 million, to OETA.

The OETA Foundation, a privately funded organization, will sign the papers Wednesday to buy for $1.5 million the remaining assets of Channel 43, including 95 acres of land, the 20,000-square-foot studio and office complex, and the 1,596-foot tower at 11901 N. Eastern Ave.

Both the KOKH and OETA transactions become final at the close of business Wednesday, Reams said.

About 30 members of the KAUT staff will be retained in the new operation and about 16 will be hired over from the KOKH 25 staff. The operation will be started with a staff of 46 to 47 people, Reams said.

"We will interview everybody Thursday over at KOKH. At that point we will make a determination of what our needs will be at the new station.

Some will be retained and some unfortunately will not be retained," he said.

He said both stations have lost people through attrition during the three-month interim period since negotiations were made public.

"I'm hoping that I'll be able to retain at least half of their staff to meet our needs. …