Loyal viewers saddened by end of LA’s only asian station

“This closure feels like death. Unlike divorce or breaking up a relationship you know that the person still lives or goes on with life but this is something that you will never see again,” says a Mandarin news anchor

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After four decades, Channel 18 (“LA18″) a multicultural independent television station that served the largest U.S. Asian market in Los Angeles announced they were canceling all of their locally produced Mandarin, Korean and Filipino shows, replacing them with English-language infomercials.

Friday June 30, after the final Mandarin newscast more than a dozen of LA18’s employees gathered for a group picture. The hosts Harry Chang and Christine Chang along with the crew became emotional as they reviewed some of their memorable broadcasts.

More than 60 employees were laid off. This had been announced to its employees two months before. But it was still surreal for the employees when it finally ended.

I spoke to some of my colleagues a week after our last telecast. Some had already found new jobs, some were still in shock and didn’t know what to do next, and some were still recuperating. But the general mood was depressed.

One of my co-workers, a Mandarin news anchor said, “this closure feels like death.” She said, “unlike divorce or breaking up a relationship you know that the person still lives or goes on with life but this is something that you will never see again.”

Even though the live Mandarin language news broadcast is off the air, the skeleton crew that remains, including myself, everyday, still say to each other, “1 minute to live”, every 12:57 PM, as though the show were still about to go on air. When I told my colleague that we still make that announcement, she began to cry.

Two weeks after the final telecast I visited the the studio. The control room that used to be so busy with people running here and there, yelling, rushing, has now turned dark and eerily quiet. I’ve never been susceptible to the pain of goodbyes ‘til this.

For years LA18 was beloved by the Asian-American community because it was the only station in the U.S. that provided programs in their languages. Now it is gone.

The management has said little publicly about the reasons for the decision to end the locally produces shows at LA18, but some say that the types of programs LA offers are now accessible in the internet.

However, some sources also say that the company did not wish to continue having to produce regular television programming because that kind of work is labor intensive and time consuming. From the perspective of basic economics the two explanations are ultimately similar.

The station has been getting feedback since the announcement. Several calls have been received daily. Many viewers are confused and in denial that their favorite shows are gone. A young lady called and asked about the favorite show of her grandmother, and after being told that it was cancelled, she said, “my grandmother will be upset with this,” she continued asking “is there any way it will come back again? Is there any channel we can turn to?”

A Filipino caller said “ can I give an advice, bring it back…just bring it back.”

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