New schedule at the ready, KOCE-TV gets rechristened as PBS SoCal
The Orange County station, set to become the primary Southern California carrier of PBS programming Jan. 1, will be rechristened as PBS SoCal, acknowledging a signal that will be beamed across an immense swath: Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernadino and Ventura counties in addition to Orange County.
"It will be under this PBS SoCal brand that we will begin to move forward with the expanded PBS content on our operation," PBS SoCal president and chief executive Mel Rogers said in a conference call with reporters Thursday morning.
The move comes as the existing PBS station in the area, Los Angeles' KCET-TV, prepares to sign off as a member station and will forge a path as an independent public broadcasting outlet.
But station executives saw the change as a necessary step in getting local viewers to see the Orange County outlet — which previously carried just one-fourth of the regular PBS lineup — as the primary provider for the area.
"I've envied those markets where they've done it and made it geographic," Rogers said of the name. "I just think it's a better way to market yourselves."
The station also revealed a programming lineup that hews closely to the familiar PBS schedule (see below), with one important difference: Because of previous programming commitments, PBS SoCal will not carry "Charlie Rose." Instead, the popular talk show will appear on KVCR-TV, the secondary PBS outlet in San Bernadino.
"We hope to have him on in a matter of months," Rogers said. "It's probably my favorite show, so it's personally painful."
Meanwhile, the station will relocate soon from Huntington Beach to Costa Mesa, a move that was planned long before KCET broke away from the network. "We will also have some physical presence in Los Angeles eventually as well," Rogers said.
But Orange County residents shouldn't worry that the station has lost interest in their neighborhoods, Rogers said.
"We're obviously not going to be able to focus on Orange County anymore, but we're not going to begin ignoring it either," he said.
Following is the outline of PBS SoCal's new schedule:
Sun.: "Nature," "Masterpiece."
Mon.: "Antiques Roadshow," "American Experience." "Tavis Smiley" at 11 weeknights.
Tues.: Specials plus "Frontline."
Wed.: "Nova" and specials.
Thurs.: "This Old House" plus two hours of Huell Howser specials.
Fri.: News and public affairs shows, plus British comedies "Keeping Up Appearances" and "As Time Goes By."
Sat.: Lawrence Welk and "Great Performances."
— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: Tavis Smiley (here interviewing Robert Duvall) will move from KCET-TV to the newly rechristened PBS SoCal. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times.