The new general manager of Salt Lake City television stations KTVX and KUCW knows a little bit about building from the ground up.
"I was LaVell Edwards' first recruit," said Richard Jones, a former wide receiver who played for the legendary Brigham Young University football coach before Edwards built the Cougars into national champions.
Jones, who was introduced to his new staff on Monday afternoon, grew up in California, but his parents were Utah natives. Growing up, he spent every summer in Utah. His daughter lives in Lehi; his brother owns Park City Television; his niece is a BYU volleyball coach.
"I thought, 'Well, shoot, I've got so many ties up there, maybe I'll go up there and do this,'" he said.
Jones, a longtime television executive and consultant, faces a tall task not unlike that of taking over a football team on a long losing streak. KTVX-Channel 4 has struggled in the ratings; it's a weak fourth in late-night news, while KUCW-Channel 30 has struggled to build an identity.
The stations were recently acquired by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group, and Jones is coming on board in the wake of layoffs as the new owners consolidate business operations at an out-of-state hub.
(That's standard TV group procedure. When Nexstar managed KUTV, before that station was sold to Sinclair Broadcasting in 2012, Channel 2 served as a hub for a group of out-of-state stations.)
"It's not an easy situation. I've had this experience before," said Jones, who took a station in San Diego from last to first in the news ratings and spent the past few years operating his own consulting firm.
"I just think there's so much potential for these two stations," he said. "And I'm excited about the opportunity to go in and create a fantastic environment. I've always found that adversity and difficulty, if handled correctly, brings people together. So there will be a lot of satisfaction in turning this around."
He said there are no plans to consolidate the local stations' news or sales staffs with the other 79 stations Nexstar owns or manages.
"Their charge to me is to do what I need to do to build up the news and do local programming," Jones said. And he's impressed by the "amazing facility" that houses KTVX/KUCW.
"There's so much more these stations can do with the facilities they have," he said. "There are some things I'm specifically looking at now to reach out and do things inside the community different types of local shows and other things that we can put together for the two stations."