Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Draws Huge Shares in Austin, Texas (1978)


by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in November, I wrote a series of posts about the various connections Mid-Atlantic Wrestling had to the Lone Star State of Texas, through its wrestlers making appearances there, storylines, and television coverage.

Mid-Atlantic Gateway contributor Mark Eastridge recently came across a 1978 article in the Austin, TX newspaper talking about the big ratings wrestling was getting on television in the Austin area.

Promoter Joe Blanchard's "All Star Wrestling" show aired at 12:30 PM Saturday afternoon on KVUE-24 and drew a 44% share of the TV audience (as of the time of this article, July 14, 1978.)

One of the other programs airing there at that time was "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", which we covered in PART THREE of our Texas Connections feature about Crockett television in Texas in 1977-1978.

The article also mentions Mid-Atlantic Wrestling:

"Channel 36, KTVV, airs Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, originating in Raleigh, NC, late Sunday night - 12:30 AM. At 12:30 it has  33 percent of all viewers. By 1:15 AM, 99 percent of those looking at local television are watching wrestling."

A 99% share?? Granted, there apparently wasn't a whole lot else on at that time, but that's unheard of!  Back in those days, most local stations didn't broadcast 24-hours, and usually would sign off around midnight or so. But still, a 99% share is crazy, and shows the amazing popularity of professional wrestling in the territory days on local broadcast television, before the business became almost exclusively tied to cable.

In the audio clip below, Bob Caudle and David Crockett welcomed Austin, Texas television station KTVV to the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling network. (KTVV-36 is now KXAN in Austin.)

Listen to this short audio clip of Bob Caudle and David Crockett:

This announcement took place on the 5-13-78 broadcast of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling", and that very next Wednesday night, Ricky Steamboat traveled to San Antonio from the Mid-Atlantic area to challenge Tully Blanchard for his Southwest Heavyweight Championship belt. (It was a loaded card. See the details in PART TWO of this series.)

With both of Jim Crockett Promotion's television programs airing in the south Texas territory, Joe Blanchard booked many of Crockett's top stars to appear on some of big cards. His home base of San Antonio fell in between Corpus Christi and Austin and so much of the main territory fell with in broadcast range of these two shows.

* * * * * * * *

Check out the earlier installments of the "Texas Connections" series published last fall on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

PART ONE: Mid-Atlantic Wrestlers Hailing from the Great State of Texas
PART TWO: Crockett's Connections with Joe Blanchard's Southwest Wrestling
PART THREE: Crockett TV in Texas
PART FOUR: Terry Funk Takes the U.S. Title Back to Texas
PART FIVE: Sound Clips!
PART SIX: (This Post) Bonus: Big Ratings in Austin, TX