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STATION MANAGER PROFILES
DAVE HIGGINS WCCO-TV • MINNEAPOLIS
Dave Higgins likes the predictable. "You can always be creative when you have an order to fall back on," he notes. "I' know some very creative people who are too willing to trust their instincts and not do a proper job of preparation. 1 get nervous about that."
Dave Higgins also likes the unpredictable.
"He's a real nut about trolleys,” observes Reid Johnson, a long-time colleague. "For a wedding anniversary one year, he and his wife rented a train car and took 40 people out on a dinner trip. He enjoys doing things in a grand way.”
Higgins, the recently appointed director of broadcast operations at CBS-affiliate WCCOTV Minneapolis 1St. Paul, is like that trolley in many ways. The I5-year station veteran is steady and dependable-a man who learns from his mistakes. Says Higgins: "You have to look at the process, at what worked and what didn't and why.”
Today, the 40-year-old former general manager of WCCO is reviewing everything-he oversees the engineering and production departments=In his station's tight ratings race with the other network affiliates. "For the first time, NBC [KARE-TV] is competitive” he says. "In the last two or three years, to try and take a leadership position, we've made commitments to paintbox systems and SNG vehicles at the expense of field camera replacements. Those are overdue.”
Having the equipment for remotes and live coverage is more important than ever, says Higgins, because of a "renewed interest in local programming that reflects the increasing importance of attracting new local business.”
Local production activities range from an annual summer concert and a fall marathon to the biggest event of the year: the Minncsota Stale High School HockeyToumarnent, which attracts 100,000 people over the course of three days. Higgins has a tight lock on directing much of it.
"I love directing;' he admits, "but I'll probably do less and less. Part of my mission is to improve overall productivity and lI'hd new directions. We are inctined to be more conservative about new ventures now because of our resources, but we haven't tightened the budget significantly on news." WCCO is known for its top-flight local newscasts and, nationally, for its semi-regular, much-awarded documentary series, The Moore Report.
Higgins lives in Minneapolis, two miles from work, and has a young daughter. He admits to reading "escapist literature;' but seems most comfortable talking about TV directing, which he has done most of his professional life.
He finds inspiration in the work of great sports directors because of "the opportunities they have created for themselves to make a lasting contribution;' he says. "They set standards and invented new ways of presenting an event to a viewer.
"Sports Illustrated once did an article on T.V's coverage of sports. They said the presence of TV at an event changes the event, and the producer and director are truly the eyes and ears of the viewing public. What they decide is important is what the public is going to get. I think those are two very good points to remember."
VIEW, June 15, 1987
KSL·TV • SALT LAKE CITY
Steve Lowe knows how to improvise and make it pay. In 1973. when only 22, he and Brian Capener took cameras and equipment to lsrael, Romania, and Belgium to shoot a Salt Lake City dance troupe. "It was so low-budget. we'd often have to draft a dancer to ,monitor the audio levels," recalls Lowe. The result, A Time to Dance, won a regional Emrny when it was broadcast on PBS’s KBYU-TV. "I ran into Brian a little while ago,” says Lowe. "And he said, “It's a good thing we didn't have much experience then or we'd have said it could never be done.”
"Never say never" could be Steve Lowe's motto. As the recently appointed director of syndication and production services at CBS-affiliate KSL-TV Salt Lake City. Lowe is an innovative workhorse who manages to find dollars where others never looked. "It’s a selflf starter," observes William R. Murdoch, the vice president and general manager of the station. "He created the post he's now in when we when we were looking for ways to generate more revenue."
Lowe joined KSL four years ago after a stints at KBYU and in commercial production. It is KSL’s forte, live sports coverage, that Lowe first made his mark, negotiating an exclusive three-year contract with Brigham Young University to televise its popular football games. It was a canny movesince the games have earned 30-35 shares for KSL and are now the linchpin of Lowe's syndication plans.
"People in this region are more interested in local events than other [programming):' he says. "Local production is on the upswing. There was a time when it was going the other way. But people would rather see BYU football than UCLA-Stanford, and advertisers are very interested in buying local time." Lowe has sold BYU games rights to 16 regional stations in Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii, Arizona and California.
"People in this region are more interested in local events. There was a time when it was going the other way."
KSL produces TV spots (primarily under its commercial arm, Video West) for everything from the neighborhood grocery store to the local car dealer. This venture regularly conflicts with the station's news production schedule and so Lowe must wear two hats, juggling commercial clients and KSI’s needs. "We have a mobile unit, an in-house facility-the works," he says."The only conflict is in terms of time. Generally the commercial clients take precedence, but even with that situation, there are times when we say to the commercial client. 'You can't get in this week.”
Lowe often spends 14 hours a day at his job, which is 15 miles from his home, wife and four children in Farmington, Utah. "My dad was not in television, but he was an extremelv hard worker. I got it from an early age that it could be fun to work" His only hobbies are logistical planning in the military reserve and reading books like Megatrends. "I'd like to try and anticipate what's coming next," he notes.
JUNE 15, 1987