Dallas station gets new duratrans

Anchors at KDFW, the Fox owned station in Dallas, Texas, celebrated getting new duratran backgrounds on its 15-year-old set Nov. 30, 2021.

Yes, you read that correctly. The set is, in fact, 15 years old and the “upgrade” included a new dura — and not a new video wall like you’re used to reading about as stations upgrade their sets.

(For those of you not aware, a duratran is a large graphic printed on a translucent material that’s then backlit and was what many stations used as primary backgrounds for years before LCD and LED technology became more affordable). 

To mark the occasion, morning co-anchor Hanna Battah posted three photos to her Facebook profile: One of the new look, one from the past summer and one from 2008 when the set was just a “toddler.” 

The new design appears to have been taken from the Fox owned stations’ latest graphics package that has been slowly proliferating across the country, though it’s perhaps a bit more textural than the graphics typically are.

Previously, the station used a cityscape with bursts of light and in 2008 it was a gold globe with glassy panels on one site.

The set KDFW is still using was part of a wave of lookalike sets that most Fox owned stations got from Blyth Design within a few years of each other — but it appears to be the only one of this “series” still be used, even in smaller markets. 

Key components included the “kitebox” logo panel on one side, the angled wood walls and oval anchor desk ringed with station branding printed on self adhesive “stickyback” to simulate a ticker look (in larger markets, this got upgraded to a real LED ticker).

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Other hallmarks of that design are also visible in the photo — including the blurred monitor wall camera right that appears to still feature at least some 4:3 aspect ratio monitors. 

Over the years, KDFW’s set has gotten some minor upgrades, including higher quality 16:9 monitors for on set graphics and the removal of the rear projection screen camera left in favor of a flat screen.

To put things in context, this set is three years older than the 2009 analog to digital transition deadline in the U.S. It was also built three years before the station began broadcasting in high definition. 

Considering Dallas is a “top 10” market (it’s currently No. 5), it’s a bit surprising the station is still using such an old set. 

While the station isn’t a ratings powerhouse, it does perform fairly well, particularly in the mornings. 

It often outranks CBS owned KTTV and ABC affiliate WFAA at 5 p.m. and KTTV at 6 p.m. It also tends to perform at the top in the adults 25-54 demo in almost all timeslots.

That begin said, perhaps management’s approach to the “old” set is that if isn’t broken, why fix it?

Insiders note that a new facility project, similar to the redevelopment of Fox 5 Washington, is eventually expected at the station, which could also be a driving point behind the lack of a new set.

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