Even though the name "Eyewitness News" was not associated with Channel Five until the late 1960s, it can be argued that the birth of KSL's franchise product was on the evening of July 13th, 1965. That's the day a young 24-year-old anchor named Dick Nourse was first paired with a duo only recently hired from a station across the street on Social Hall Avenue, KCPX-TV.
Nourse was a young disc jockey from Colorado, fresh out of college. He had arrived at KSL only a few weeks earlier, where he was hired as a booth announcer. It was to be a stopover on his way to California for what he hoped would be an acting career. The duo from KCPX was Paul James and Bob Welti. They had already established themselves as Utah's leading sports and weather television team. KSL management -- especially Arch L. Madsen -- spent months trying to lure the two from the competition. Nourse suddenly found himself as the main weekday news anchor, teamed with two of the most popular figures in local television. Something "magic" happened almost immediately, and the three found themselves transforming an also-ran news station into the Number One station in the city. It was the beginning of a news leadership record which has already lasted well over thirty years.
Some wondered if the combination would work. KSL's Vice President and General Manager L. H. Curtis was heard to say of Welti and James: "They'll both be in color, but I don't think this'll make them any prettier. It just means viewers will be able to see the real colors of those outlandish sports jackets and socks Paul has been wearing. It also means viewers will be able to see the sunburn Bob gets when he pokes his head out the door during the day to see what the weather will be like this summer."
But beginning with their first broadcast, Nourse, Welti, and James would take KSL news from worst to first in the ratings. In fact, over the next 26 years they would become the longest running anchor team in American television, and their ratings would become high water marks for other stations around the country to envy and try to emulate, usually without success.
Dick Nourse remembers his first days at KSL: "When I walked in the door, there were only six of us in the entire news department! Tim Monroe was news director. There was Larry Finigan, Richard Bingham, Champ Gallivan, Wes Vernon and myself." But that would soon change, Nourse said: "The 1960s were times of change, and television news was rapidly changing as well. With a presidential assassination, civil unrest, and an unpopular war, people wanted news fast, and they turned to television to learn about these events as they were happening."
Nourse himself became an eyewitness to the changing times when he and photographer Larry Finigan were among the first local journalists to travel to Vietnam in 1967. KSL News made a bold statement with this trip to Southeast Asia; it was no longer content to cover news only within the boundaries of the station's broadcast area. KSL would cover events which had impact on the lives of KSL viewers, no matter where the story may take place.
During this turbulent decade, KSL also established its Washington D.C. News Bureau. The Bureau opened its doors in 1968 under the direction of Wes Vernon. Later, Ted Capener took over after spending several years as News Director for both KSL Television and KSL Radio. In the late 1970s, Charles Sherrill moved from Managing Editor at KSL-TV News to become Washington Correspondent. Sherrill became Bureau Chief in 1982 when Capener returned to Utah to be Senior Vice President at Bonneville International Corporation.
The "Eyewitness News" name was adopted in the 1960s. It is a franchised name from the Frank Magid news consulting organization. KSL was one of the first stations in America to embrace the designation. "The News Specialists" would come almost two decades later when extensive research showed that KSL's audience thought of the station as one which specialized in complete news coverage.
Channel Five also became a leader in other ways. It was, and still is, one of the few stations across the country to editorialize on subjects it deems important to viewers. The first KSL Editorial was broadcast in October of 1962. For almost two decades, editorials were delivered by the President or General Manager. Wes Bowen wrote many of those early editorials. Don Gale began writing the editorials in 1977. He went on the air in 1978, and his familiar delivery became a fixture for almost 6,000 different editorial opinions over a 20-year span. Duane Cardall, a veteran KSL reporter, took over editorial duties in 1998.