Small is in the eye of the beholder. For proud TV-station owner Vern Van Winkle, the sky’s the limit. The sky over Las Vegas, anyway.
Vern has spent the last 20-plus years running KPVM, one of America’s last remaining independent stations, whose local-news department in the Nevada desert operates on a shoestring budget. His ambitions to expand from rural Pahrump into the big-city market fuel the endearing six-part docuseries, Small Town News: KPVM Pahrump, which walks a fine but sympathetic line between laughing at and with these hard-working souls.
Invaluable news director–coanchor Deanna “I’m super blunt” O’Donnell is the first to laugh, if only to avoid crying over the steep staff turnover during a year of COVID-19 and a polarizing national election.
“I’m the only person that stays because I have no self-esteem,” she quips. We know better — the town clearly adores her as she covers everything from animal adoptions to local brothels: “I didn’t know you guys had a dungeon. So much room for activities!”
The supporting cast is worthy of WKRP in Cincinnati: the upbeat coanchor with “resting smile face,” the jovial new weatherman whose Elvis costume barely raises an eyebrow. They all genuinely like one another, even when on opposite ends of the political spectrum. That alone seems worthy of a headline.
Small Town News: KPVM Pahrump, Series Premiere, Monday, August 2, 9/8c, HBO