If KARE meteorologist Sven Sund-gaard has always harbored a secret desire to host a local version of "Soul Train," now's the time to make his pitch. With syndication deals becoming less profitable, Twin Cities affiliates are filling more of their non-network time with self-produced content. In just the past 18 months, they've added nearly a dozen hours per week of local news, and KSTP plans to launch an afternoon talk show by spring.

With that trend in mind, we took it upon ourselves to cook up some additional programming ideas tailor-made for past and present personalities.

"Tom Barnard's PTL Club": The wildly popular KQRS radio personality makes amends with the Hmong community with this spiritually uplifting attempt to "Praise That Laos!" The whole KQ gang chips in, as Terri Traen opens each show with a rendition of "Pheng Xat Lao," the country's national anthem, and Jeff Passolt teaches us how to prepare traditional dishes, such as papaya salad.

"Good Questions": WCCO builds on its popular new segment with this unique game show in which contestants face tough posers and the even tougher challenge of correctly responding before host Don Shelby blurts out the answer himself.

"Kukla, Fran & Rosie": The children's hour reinvents itself, thanks to WCCO sports guru Mark Rosen who uses lovable puppets to introduce kids to the great wonders of the world, such as Joe Mauer's sideburns.

"The Morning, Morning Show": Convinced he needs more airtime and less sleep, KSTP go-to guy Rusty Gatenby beats the competition by kicking off his station's early-bird coverage at 2:30 a.m.

Robyne's Tea Time Movies": KMSP's Robyne Robinson hosts afternoon matinees of classic B movies, interrupting the action to shill jewelry, artwork and kitchen knives. She's aided by her shapely, and scantily clad assistant, weather guy Ian Leonard.

"Judge Cyndy": KSTP anchor Cyndy Brucato brings her no-nonsense approach to the courtroom, finding justice in dramatic showdowns between Minnesotans fighting over everything from Block E turf to ice-fishing spots.

"Access Hartnett": Local Hollywood stud and part-time Minneapolis resident Josh Hartnett beats tabloid TV at its own game by hosting his own daily entertainment report, detailing who he's dating, where he's dining and what he's wearing. Plus, celebrity birthdays!

"Jesse Ventura's America": The self-deprecating, easygoing former governor presides over a give-and-take talk show that invites guests and audience members to freely exchange ideas about ... oh, wait. Never mind.

"Idol" words

Simon, Paula and Randy may have skipped the Twin Cities for their latest round of auditions, but that doesn't mean Minnesota won't be represented on America's most-watched show. According to Internet chatter, Maplewood resident Matt Santo and Bloomington native Michelle Monica Mann are among the top 50 contestants who got golden tickets to Hollywood (the ongoing audition shows are pretaped). Santo also made the trip last season at the tender age of 16. Mann, who is part of the Mann Theatres dynasty and has an uncle who's lead singer for the Rockin' Hollywoods, has performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" for just about every major Minnesota sporting team.

The laugh's on us

"Idol" may not be coming to Minnesota, but NBC's "Last Comic Standing" will be back as part of an eight-city audition tour. To test you must be over 18 years old and have two minutes of material. Doors open at 9 a.m. Feb 19 at Acme Comedy Club, 708 N. 1st St, Minneapolis. Finalists will have a chance to perform in front of host Bill Bellamy and a couple of other judges who haven't been named yet, but word has it that it will be comic performers from past or present NBC sitcoms.

Time traveler

Tukufu Zuberi, one of the hosts of PBS's "History Detectives," was in town this past weekend, preparing for a piece that will be part of season 6, scheduled to start in June. He visited Fort Snelling as part of his investigation of an oil painting that may have been done by renowned artist Seth Eastman, who was a commander at the fort during the mid-19th century. No air date has been set yet.

njustin@startribune.com • 612-673-7431