KTNV, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate, produced an hour-long special for its 65th anniversary of broadcasting that’s uniquely Las Vegas. It follows the Sin City’s history of colorful characters, Hollywood celebrities and mobsters through the boom times and the busts, from Elvis and the Rat Pack in the 50s to today. The one constant? The principles of journalism “haven’t changed throughout the decades,” says Emily Atuna, KTNV’s executive producer.
The story of KTNV’s 65 years of television broadcasting in Las Vegas is filled with colorful characters, Hollywood celebrities, and mobsters. It follows the Sin City’s history through the boon times and the busts, from Elvis and the Rat Pack in the 50s through the mass shooting at an outdoor concert in 2017.
It’s broadcasting history in a TV market unlike any other — Las Vegas.
KTNV, the Scripps ABC affiliate in Sin City, celebrated its 65th anniversary on May 4 with a one-hour special.
“Las Vegas is such an interesting town,” says Emily Antuna, KTNV’s executive producer.
“We delved into the history of Las Vegas and how we covered it more than the history of our station in some of the pieces.”
Larry Watzman, KTNV’s marketing and creative services director, says producing the special had some challenges with the archived footage that was in a variety of formats.
“We had to do a deep dive into a time capsule to grab some of these materials,” he says.
“It’s an interesting story about the different people that got involved and how the city grew and how the station grew up around it.”
Antuna says originally, the station was just going to do a few stories about the station’s history, but that evolved into an hour-long special.
“What became so important about this project is sharing what a rich history we actually had with the community,” says Antuna.
The special is broken down decade by decade. Antuna says: “What we did, who the personalities were and what Vegas was going through and how we were there at the time to cover it.”
Antuna says that when the station started in 1956, “Las Vegas was a boom town. “We went from cowboys and Indians to the Rat Pack and big bands and luxurious casinos.”
The special aired on KTVN and on the station’s digital channels, Watzman says, “and got a lot of positive feedback. People seemed to really enjoy that. They like that retro stuff.”
Antuna says “people reached out to us and said, wow this has been so much fun to go down memory lane.”
Many, Antuna says, were surprised “because they didn’t know KTNV’s history.” The station’s call letters were KSHO when it went on the air in 1956, then changed to KTNV in 1980.
According to Antuna, when the station started the anniversary project, it was just a couple of bullets points on a piece of paper. But in order to reveal the station’s true history, Antuna says “it was like putting together an investigative journalism piece.”
One interview led to another, then another, she says.
“It was really a fun project that involved a lot of people in our community,” she says, “and that really shows.”
Antuna, who grew up in Las Vegas, says the city’s history is near and dear to her heart.
But even she was surprised about the different owners through the years.
“Phyllis Diller tried to buy our station,” she says.
“Howard Hughes owned channel 8 (KLAS). Johnny Carson owned channel 5 (KVVU). If we had Phyllis Diller that would be quite the trio of station owners.”
Something else that surprised Antuna while producing the special is how the principles of journalism “haven’t changed throughout the decades. No matter the technology or the changing audience structure, true journalism stays there in the principles that we fight for every day.”
Click here to go to KTNV’s website page for more videos, graphics and material related to its anniversary special.
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