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PM MAGAZINE: Forerunner of cable show concepts, etc., 11 February 2005

I can speak with considerable authority on this subject as I was a producer & co/host with PM MAGAZINE for 5 years during the late 1970's to mid 80's. Basically the show was very similar to the morning program, "THE TODAY SHOW" but was pretaped and utilized a "menu driven concept" and designed to make the "Prime Time Access" more appealing and profitable. The timeslot after local evening news and before network primetime was usually filled with syndicated fare such as gameshows and the like. Simply because the networks couldn't air their own programming in that slot so as to provide diversity on the air.

Well diversity meant two things: syndicated programs OR locally originated/produced material. Well most local stations didn't have the means to produce local material in it's entirety back then and gameshows were getting popular and expensive to buy. Enter Group Westinghouse Broadcasting with the concept of offering local stations who signed in as "Cooperative Stations" to use formulaic magazine style segments and showcasing of local talent in a manner that was efficient and cost effective. Each local station had to fill in so much local content per week while receiving a "national reel" of preproduced segments from Group W's bigger stations as well as the rest of the stations in the group cooperative.

Each station would select stories and supplement the weekly lineup with their own local stories and lead in's. These lead in's were referred to as "Ins & Outs" and were shot on location, sometimes roughly tying in the location with the featured story about to be "introduced".

There were a lot of new areas that PM broke ground in, namely developing the concept of "niche' programming" which is the norm on today's cable channels.

Alas, PM/Evening Magazine died a slow death due to stations being bought up by larger group ownerships who wished to maximize profits by cutting out any and all extra local productions and replacing it with syndicated fare or reruns from existing libraries of the larger groups. Viacom did this to it's stations, I know because that's why PM was canceled where I worked. Not because of poor ratings mind you as many PM's were still holding their own even at their last broadcast.

Today PM/Evening Magazine has managed to stay alive albeit at barely a fraction of their numbers; I believe 3 stations have kept and/or resurrected the format from the dusty shelves and breathed new life into it. At one time there were more than 100 PM Magazines across the country, that's how successful a concept it was.


Chuck Smith