WVLT, the CBS affiliate in Knoxville, recently moved its daily reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. In the TV business, the 7:30 timeslot used to be called “prime access.” In 1970, the FCC ruled that the first hour of prime time must be controlled by local stations rather than by the networks. The rule was repealed in 1996 but there hasn’t been any noticeable change in programming strategy since then. Most channels run “Jeopardy!” or “Entertainment Tonight” during the 7 o’clock hour. I wonder how many network affiliates around the country air a 50-year old sitcom during prime time.
I suspect that “The Andy Griffith Show” will get decent ratings in Knoxville. People here love the show, as proven yesterday at the Tennessee Valley Fair. My wife and I walked in to the entertainment tent just as this year’s Opie look-alike contest was ending. The festivities were organized by the Mayberry Chapter of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. Local parade mainstay Sammy Sawyer does a great job of impersonating Barney Fife. His URL says it all: bfife4life.com.
In addition to Barney, they had people on stage dressed as Andy, Gomer, Aunt Bee and others. My wife and I stayed to watch the Mayberry Trivia Challenge and the pie-eating contest. When I got closer to the stage to take a picture, I saw Sharon and Mark Cawood. Mark had just taken second place in the adult round of the trivia contest. They are now the proud owners of a restored Mayberry Squad Car, which was parked just outside the tent.