The Evangelists: Alan Frank

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: President of Post-Newsweek Stations.
TV stations owned: Six, which cover 7.6 percent of the country.
Hometown: Pittsburgh.
Education: Master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School and an undergraduate degree from Duquesne University.
First job: Floor crew at PBS station WQED-TV, Pittsburgh.
Background: Mr. Frank took time off from college to figure out what he would do next, and a friend suggested an internship at PBS station WQED-TV, Pittsburgh.
“I started sweeping floors and moving lights, and I knew from the first day once I did that, that’s what I wanted to do,” Mr. Frank said. “I got on the payroll. I was on the floor crew and then went to KDKA-TV, a Westinghouse station. I was a floor manager and became a producer/director.”
While at KDKA, he finished his degree and applied to Syracuse’s Newhouse School, which he attended before going to Vietnam as a first lieutenant in the Army. After the Vietnam War, he became production manager for “The David Frost Revue,” based in New York.
Mr. Frank went to KPIX-TV, San Francisco, in 1972 as executive producer of news and programming and later to WBZ-TV, Boston, as program manager. He took a job as program manager of Post-Newsweek’s WDIV-TV, Detroit, in 1979. “They had taken over the station six months before,” he said. “We were third or fourth in all time periods, and I thought I’d be here a year or two and move on like I’d done everywhere else. And I’m still here.”
On HDTV: While CBS is at the forefront of high definition, Mr. Frank said broadcasters need to help the other networks produce more HDTV programming to get consumers excited about the concept. “NBC only does `The Tonight Show.’ No one can see `The Tonight Show’ in any consumer store in the U.S. They’re all closed by then. You want something people can see. ABC has cut back their efforts. They stopped `Monday Night Football’ in HD.”
Top issue for local broadcasters: “The second revenue stream is a significant issue-from cable, satellite, wherever. The potential was [created] by Congress in 1992- then ABC decided to tell the cable networks that they could not pay them for their stations but instead pay them for ESPN. That set a precedent. That’s when retransmission consent and must-carry came to be, and many station groups were intent on getting some form of compensation for our signal. It makes no sense when the overwhelming signals that people watch on cable are broadcast channels. Yet broadcasters get nothing for it. The five most popular cable channels in every market in the U.S. are broadcast stations.”