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Friday, January 14, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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TV-Radio Beat

Pbs' Broadcast Of `Tales' Brings Some Indignant Calls

"This would qualify for the Playboy Channel. Gay bias, nude beaches, bare breasts. This does not belong on public TV. I will not give you any more money."

That was one of the calls KCTS-TV (Channel 9) received this week in response to "Tales of the City," the fictional snapshot of lives in 1976 San Francisco that aired Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

For PBS, broadcasting the dramatization of Armistead Maupin's columns for the San Francisco Chronicle was something of a watershed. The program, which started at 9 p.m., showed bare breasts and buns, had strong language and dealt explicitly - and humorously - with marijuana and sexual preferences.

If some of that sounds familiar, harken back to the fall premiere of ABC's "NYPD Blue." The outrage over that show has subsided. KOMO-TV (Channel 4) reports that "NYPD Blue," at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, now gets as many supporting phone calls as negative ones.

Airing adult content like "Tales of the City" in prime time, for three consecutive nights, was new for Channel 9. Other programs - for example, "Tongues Untied" and "In the Life," dealing with gay lifestyles - have been broadcast late at night.

"It's got a `flag' " warning of the potentially unsuitable content, said Sheila Sundberg, KCTS national promotion coordinator. "And after 8 o'clock we like to assume that at least the parents are there or the children are in bed by that time."

Ironically, calls to Channel 9 were running 209-68 in favor of the station's decision to run "Tales." But that might have been because computer-message chatter in town warned there was a backlash, prompting people to call Channel 9 in support of the show who otherwise might not bother, Sundberg said.

And in the ratings, "Tales" doubled what KCTS-TV normally draws in prime time. Monday and Tuesday nights the show got a 6.1 rating and 10 share, beating "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on KCPQ-TV (Channel 13). Wednesday night, "Tales of the City" got a 5.0 rating and 8 share.

Tuesday night, "NYPD Blue" drew a 16.0 rating and 28 share. --

KPLZ-FM (101.5) was to drop Top 40 today in favor of a "hot adult-contemporary" format in hopes of improving its ratings, which have been plunging. It got a 2.6 share in the fall Arbitron ratings, said program director Casey Keating.

Keating said the station let go disc jockeys Mark Allan and Greg Thunder. They will be replaced by former KRWM-FM (106.9) DJ Randy Lundquist and weekend DJ Wendy Christopher.

The station will focus on female listeners, 18 to 40, by playing The Spin Doctors, Mariah Carey and Duran Duran and not Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur or Pearl Jam.

Call it "Star 101.5" --

Monolithic news-talk radio stations KIRO-AM-FM finally have a new news-and-programming director after six months of searching.

Tom Clendening, who has been program director for WTAE-AM in Pittsburgh since 1987, joins KIRO radio on Jan. 31, said general manager Joe Abel.

Before Pittsburgh, Clendening was news director at news-talk WBAL-AM in Baltimore.

He will fill a reorganized vacancy created early last year when Andy Ludlum, then vice president for news on the radio stations and on KIRO-TV, left in the turmoil surrounding a radical transformation of the TV station's newscasts. Ludlum is now program director for news-talk KING-AM (1090).

KIRO-AM (710) has led the pack when it comes to news-talk ratings, but KIRO-FM (100.7), which has focused on syndicated talk and niche programs, has been having a hard time finding an audience. --

Beginning next week, KIRO-FM personality and Seattle Times real-estate columnist Tom Kelly hosts a new call-in show, "Real Estate Today," from 8 to 9 a.m. every Sunday.

Kelly also is a guest on Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to noon, on Gary Christianson's "Money Advice" program. --

Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the metro area's biggest cable company, has donated nearly 100 TV sets to schools in metropolitan Seattle.

Fifty sets were presented this week to the Seattle Public Schools, and about half of them are to be used in the Health and Nutrition Education Project, according to TCI.

Another 50 sets have been donated to various schools in King County.

The 25-inch televisions were used in November at the international media center for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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