May 18--When cable systems pick up a new channel, there's not always a launch event, and especially not one that involves real cowboys, a barbecue buffet and a parking lot full of tractors. But all those elements fit well with RFD-TV, which celebrated its launch on Fort Worth's Charter Cable with a bit of a party Thursday at the Exchange Building in the Stockyards.
"We got our start here," Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of Rural Media Group, said from a stage in front of the Exchange Building. "The launch of RFD-TV began, really, in a little office right behind me here, with my daughters, 20 years ago, running around and playing on the lawn."
The network, which began in December 2000, has grown into Rural Media Group, which also encompasses cable channel FamilyNet as well as other cable holdings, a magazine and a Branson, Mo., theater. Gottsch's daughter Raquel is now the executive vice president of marketing, and his daughter Gatsby is now executive vice president of finance.
The network's shows focus on rural, equestrian and agricultural lifestyles, with several music shows in the lineup, ranging from such country-music classics as Hee Haw and The Porter Wagoner Show to modern country shows and even non-country shows, such as Live From Daryl's House, in which Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates jams with a different musical guest in each episode.
RFD-TV's Charter launch is a bigenough deal that the Fort Worth's City Council declared Thursday RFD-TV Day. More than 20 of the network's shows originate in or near Fort Worth. Shows include Red Steagall in the Bunkhouse, a cowboy music/talk show hosted by poet Steagall (who opened Thursday's remarks with a recital of Born to This Land, a moving poem about a multigenerational farm family); Equestrian Nation, hosted by rodeo legend Larry Mahan; and The American Rancher, hosted by Pam Minick, the former Miss Rodeo America who is also the marketing director for Billy Bob's Texas.
RFD-TV will air on Charter Channel 253 and in high definition on Charter Channel 803. Brian Anderson, Charter's southwest region communication director, said that additions are part of Charter's move to an all-digital format. Anderson said that this is the largest HD launch in Charter's history, bringing more than 80 channels when complete. The expansion will be on Charter throughout more than 40 North Texas communities.
In North Texas, RFD-TV is also available on DirecTV (Channel 345), Dish (Channel 23) and Verizon FiOS (Channel 247).
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