Santa Monicans who tire of the networks' coverage of national races on Election Night will be able to turn to a local cable station for a close-up look at what's happening to candidates and issues all over California.
Santa Monica College's cable station KSMC Channel 30 will broadcast non-stop details and analysis of state Assembly races, the Santa Monica City Council contest, how Occidental's oil-drilling initiative is faring and other issues of special interest to the Westside.
"It's an emphasis that won't be on the other stations," said Robert Stern, co-director of the California Commission on Campaign Financing, who will appear on the show as a guest commentator.
"It will be a unique station for people to watch. I've never seen anyone focusing like this on state races," he said.
The program will feature analysis by commentators Stern and Jim Platler, a political science teacher at the college; interviews with Westside candidates and other politicians, and remote-camera coverage at campaign headquarters in the area.
A special telephone hookup with the secretary of state's office and the Los Angeles County Registrar will provide up-to-the-minute election results.
The coverage will include the presidential, congressional and other national races. But the emphasis is decidedly local.
"Channel 2 or Channel 4 might cover the local results once or twice for the whole evening," Greg Brown, director of telecommunications at the college, said.
"We'll do it continuously as our major effort. We'll have the other results, too, so you don't have to switch. But if your interest is Santa Monica and the Westside, we'll be the main source of information for that."
Brown said Channel 30's regular programming will be interrupted by brief spots with preliminary results as early as 7:30 on Election Night and the non-stop coverage beginning about 9.
He pledged to stay on the air until the "wee hours of the morning," awaiting definitive results.
The college station covered the elections in 1986 but limited the coverage largely to numbers. This time, the program, which is staffed mostly by students and volunteers, will offer analysis, background and interviews, Brown said.
Stern said the show will highlight analysis, such as how the outcome of different state races could alter the balance of power in the Legislature; whether California's trend of incumbents winning reelection will continue or whether any incumbents are in trouble, and whether the FBI probe of some state legislators hurt their campaigns.
"Hot" races, like the City Council contest in Santa Monica, will receive special attention.
"I think it's going to be fascinating," Stern said. "This is a show for political junkies."
Last week, it appeared that only the 18,000 households that are cable subscribers in Santa Monica will have access to the special coverage. Brown said efforts were under way to hook up with cable stations in other Westside cities, but prospects were dim.
Viewers who want more information can call the college's Media Center at (213) 452-9352.