Friday, October 22, 2010

Hazard, Ky., TV station marks 25th anniversary

Twenty-five years ago Tuesday, WYMT-TV went on the air for the first time and has spent the last quarter century bringing Eastern Kentucky news coverage to the region. The station is based in Hazard, population 5,000 and the seat of Perry County, pop. 30,000. It is small, but a regional center in southeastern Kentucky, and the station has created a greater sense of common ground in a region that is broken up by lots of hills, mountains and county lines.

The station was founded by Ralph Gabbard of WKYT-27 in Lexington, who purchased the old channel 57 from Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman, who died recently. "Mayor Gorman knew that if he sold the station to 27 which had a Frankfort bureau that we'd be covering Kentucky news and the Kentucky governor and Kentucky state government and Kentucky issues," former WKYT news director Ken Kurtz, who helped establish WYMT, told Steve Hensley of WYMT.

Kurtz said Gorman told him more people in Eastern Kentucky knew the name of the West Virginia governor than the Kentucky one because they got their television news from Huntington, W.Va. "Eastern Kentucky would be a different place, it really would," Kurtz told Hensely. "We've been able to tell through the combined resources of channel 27 and channel 57 the Eastern Kentucky story, not just to the region and the commonwealth but the nation." (Read more)

To celebrate the anniversary, current WYMT news director Neil Middleton has been bringing back former anchors for guest spots this year, Ivy Brashear of the Hazard Herald reports. This week former WYMT sports anchor Jay Crawford, now host of ESPN's "First Take," returned to Hazard to do one more sports broadcast. "We feel like these people are our friends, for us and for our viewers," Middleton said. Tuesday's episode on the 25th anniversary featured two of the three original anchors.

Middleton says today's station looks much different than 25 years ago, especially with the increased role of the Internet. "The basic principles of journalism and our mission to cover eastern Kentucky has not changed," Middleton told Brashear. "Just the tools we do it with." Middleton said the anniversary is important to more than just the news staff. "We feel like this is a celebration not just for WYMT, but for the entire region," Middleton said. "We feel like this is a success story for Eastern Kentucky, not just WYMT." (Read more)

No comments: