The new kid at KTVX is a familiar face to local viewers. The first time he went to work at Channel 4, a lot of the staffers there — and a lot of the viewers — weren’t even born.
“I’m a little older now,” said Craig Wirth, 61. “I started there 43 years ago. And I really didn’t think I’d be doing this again.”
Long a familiar face in local TV, Wirth started at Channel 4 when it was still KCPX. He spent some time at KUTV-Channel 2 as well as stations in New Jersey and California, but he’s best known for the offbeat, entertaining reporting he did at KTVX.
“Channel 4 was always good to me. Even though,” he said with a laugh, “I think I was fired two, three times.”
But he was invited back by KTVX news director George Severson, a former Channel 4 staffer who returned to the station in March.
“I get asked by people all the time, ‘Hey, are you bringing Craig Wirth back?’ ” Severson said. “He crosses generations because he’s got that sense of humor.”
Wirth confirmed that he hears from multiple generations.
“It used to be that people said, ‘You know, I grew up watching you,’ ” Wirth said. “Now, it’s, ‘My parents grew up watching you.’ ‘My grandparents grew up watching you’ is going to be next, I’m sure.”
Wirth, who teaches broadcasting at the University of Utah and works as the communications director for the Utah Episcopal Diocese, jumped at the chance to do a weekly feature about Utah history. Well, he jumped once he realized Severson’s offer was genuine.
“I thought it was a joke,” he said. “I’ve never considered myself the world’s greatest on-camera person. And I certainly don’t look like most on-air TV reporters. But I just kind of have fun. And, hopefully, people will have fun with me.”
Wirth has been sitting on lots of material for the feature, which will air during Channel 4’s 10 p.m. newscast on Sundays and repeat in Monday programs.
“The great thing is that I have all these same tapes that 43 years ago were on a shelf marked ‘current events,’ ” Wirth said, “and now they’re marked ‘history.’ So there actually is some advantage to that.”
Well, they aren’t quite that old. But he does have tapes dating back 35, 36 years.
“I saved everything,” Wirth said. “I have 42 boxes of tapes up at the university. And I have another 50 in my garage. So this is also a great chance to clean out my garage.”
First up is a piece on what it used to be like to shop in downtown Salt Lake City, when you walked from ZCMI to Auerbach’s to The Paris. After it airs, Wirth is expecting it will be a topic of discussion in his classes.
“Now all my students are going to see if I practice what I teach,” Wirth said. “I’m sure they’re going to critically review this on Monday.”
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; followhim on Twitter @ScottDPierce.