He had a big, booming voice. He had a bigger personality.
Dale Nicholson was a TV giant.
What role did Dale play in KATV's success? What has Frank Broyles done for the University of Arkansas athletic program? I think it's a good comparison. Coach Broyles had his hands on just about every big decision that was made in Fayetteville during his long run. The same can be said about Dale Nicholson and KATV.
He was the right guy for the right time. It was the "Ron Burgandy" age of TV. No cable, satellite or dish. Local TV was huge and the personalities were true celebrities. Dale was a Warren native who knew what personalities would work in Little Rock.
Dale Nicholson's plan for success
Hire the goalposts. In 1978, he brought Vandy's play-by-play man, Paul Eells, to do sports at KATV. Six years later, he hired Ned Perme to do the weather. Over the next 25 years, the news anchors would change - Steve Barnes, Greg Hurst, Rob Johnson, Amy Barnes, Susan Roesgen, Karen Fuller... I'll stop there, but the goalposts never changed. Two brilliant hires.
Dale was also a big believer that you had to have the right shows airing immediately after the news. Dale put a show with a very simple idea at 6:30 PM. Today, "Wheel of Fortune" remains one of Arkansas' most watched TV shows. Dale knew what would work in Arkansas.
Big ratings and big parties
It was the golden age for local TV. Under Dale Nicholson's leadership, KATV became one of the top ABC affiliates in the country. "Big Pard" enjoyed every minute of the ride. The trips, the golf tourneys... Dale was always the perfect host.
Dale Nicholson hated to lose
Barry Brandt and I benefited from Dale's desire to win big. If he hadn't hired me and Barry away from Channel 4, I don't know where we would be today. We both enjoyed our time at KARK, but working at KATV has been a life changing experience for both of us.
Thanks in great part to Dale Nicholson Sr, Channel 7 remains a consistent ratings winner and a great place to work.
We will miss "Big Pard."
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