Pierce: KTVX and KUCW rolling out new look

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Utah's oldest TV station — KTVX-Channel 4 — celebrates its 65th birthday on Friday. And on Monday, it will experience a rebirth.

The news set is getting a huge makeover. Viewers will quickly notice the new color scheme — pale green, purple-gray and orange-red. The set for "Good Things Utah" also is getting a completely new look, as well as a new focus.

"We're going to embrace our legacy," said Richard Doutre Jones, vice president and general manager of KTVX and sister station KUCW-Channel 30, in January. "Do you live in Utah? Then we care about you."

Jones has a reputation in the industry as a guy who can turn stations around. He's done it elsewhere. His basic plan for Channels 4 and 30 is to make them Utah-centric.

That sounds simplistic, but a series of ownership and management changes left KTVX's news looking generic, and the station has been unable to climb out of last place in the local ratings.

Nexstar Broadcasting took over the stations in December and hired Jones in January. In March, Jones hired news director George Severson, a former KTVX staffer who was news director of the NBC affiliate in Palm Springs, Calif.

Severson and Jones face the formidable task of turning fourth-place KTVX's news ratings around. They've made personnel changes, including anchorwoman Kylie Conway's departure; the installation of Kim Fisher as the station's lead anchorwoman; and the installation of Glenn Willey as morning anchor and Curtis Ray as the morning weather guy.

More changes are coming, but Jones promises that once his team is in place, "Nobody will have to look over their shoulder. We're looking long-term."

And it's not just one station that's getting a makeover. On Monday, KUCW-Channel 30 will debut a prime-time newscast — "9 at 9," a 9½-minute news rundown.

"We're trying to give CW 30 its own identity," Severson said. "It will be what you need to know before you go to bed."

And the goal is to do something that speaks to The CW's younger demo. Various reporters will rotate as anchors for the commercial-free newscast, which will originate either from a small set at the KTVX news studio or from locations outside the studio.

Channel 30 will follow with back-to-back episodes of "Two and a Half Men" at 9:12 and 9:40 p.m. That sitcom is leaving Channel 4's schedule; "Access Hollywood" will air weekdays at 6:30 p.m. beginning Monday.

All of this is a work in progress. But Jones and Severson have big plans. Including locally produced documentaries — almost unheard of from commercial stations in this day and age.

"We're really going to commit to this," Severson said.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.