Monday, February 26, 2007

Director's Alert: Good Company Now Streaming Live

Today marked the launch of WKYC's first web/broadcast simulcast of "Good Company" - Channel 3's live and local weekday morning show that airs from 10 - 11 AM.

Hosted by Fred Griffith, Andrea Vecchio, Michael Cardamone and Eileen McShea, the show is now available worldwide on the "Good Company" homepage:

Note: the show is only viewable during the live broadcast from 10 - 11 AM weekday mornings. At this time, no archive is available of the programs.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

From the Mailbag: How old is the WKYC Broadcast Center?

From: Matt in Pepper Pike

Q: How old is the WKYC building where you are located on Lakeside Avenue now?

A: We just celebrated our 6th Anniversary at 1333 Lakeside Avenue after "officially" moving into the building in January 2001. Although the newscasts were produced and directed from here starting in December 2000 while the building was being finished around us, the anchors remained at the old building at E. 6th St. until the night of the Superbowl: Sunday, January 28th, 2001.

During the transition time, the cameras were fed via fiber optic to the new building.

Scott Newell, Kristin Anderson, Eileen McShea and Chuck Galeti were the first to anchor a newscast in the new building (though from a temporary set in the newsroom).

Tim White, Romona Robinson, Mark Nolan and Jim Donovan debuted our new main set the following night at 6 PM.

Spotlight Article: Single vs. Dual Layer DVDs

This week's blog will focus on technology and the difference between buying a single-layer and a dual-layer DVD burner if you are in the market. Both cost about the same at this point, so it's always better to opt for the dual-layer which will soon become the "standard." Here's why:

Generally, a standard single-layer recordable DVD will hold about 4.7GB of information, which is a lot less than most movie DVDs hold because those already use the dual-layer technology. And you would think dual-layer would hold twice the information, or about 9.4GB of data. But, the truth is you lose about 10% capacity because of how the data is written to the second, or upper layer of the disc, leaving less usable space.

The consumer dual-layer discs you buy at the store are semitransparent, and burners and players make a very small adjustment in the focus of the laser's lens to read the upper layer of the DVD through the bottom layer.

In contrast, pressed movie DVDs use a reflective layer stamped with physical bumps that represent the digital "1"s and "0"s that make up a movie, whereas burnable DVDs use an organic dye that changes its opacity when exposed to heat - mimicking the bumps of pressed DVDs.

Hollywood has been pressing movies on dual-layer DVDs for a while now, which makes it hard if you are going to be "archiving" those store-bought movies for your own personal reasons...not that we approve of that or anything. Thus, buying a dual-layer burner makes the most sense.

I've found that dual-layer discs I've burned usually work in my standard DVD player, but there really is no guarantee. The best comparison is when CD burning was the fad. Older CD players were less likely to read homemade discs, while newer ones have little problem.

The one down side to single vs. dual-layer recordable DVDs today in the disc price itself. Because demand for the dual-layer is still relatively low at this point, the single layer sell for a lot less money. Like everything else, the price will become more reasonable in the future as more people buy the more expensive dual-layer discs. Demand increases, production increases and prices fall. Welcome to a free market economy.

From the Mailbag: Akron Canton News Still Not Available

From: John in Hudson

Q: I still can't receive the Akron Canton News on Time Warner here in Hudson - Wasn't that going to change last week?

A: The "Akron Canton News" did indeed move back to TWC Channel 23 in the Akron Canton area as we mentioned here on the blog. However, TWC still has not added the show to the Northern Areas of Summit County as part of their local programming channel (or to the former Adelphia Cleveland or Comcast areas as far as we know) .

If you'd like the Akron Canton News, feel free to contact a good friend of the "Director's Cut" blog, TWC PR man Bill Jasso. His email is:

Southern Summit County viewers can see the "Akron Canton News" on TWC Channel 23 at 6:30 after "More Sports and Les Levine" and at 10 PM.

Friday, February 16, 2007

TV Trivia: Weighing the Awards

The Academy Awards are the 800-pound gorilla of award shows, but the People's Choice trophy outweighs the Oscar statue by more than 5 pounds. Here's a breakdown from USA Today (WKYC's sister newspaper, published by Gannett) on just how much trophies weigh.

1. People's Choice trophy (14 lbs)
2. Oscars (8 lbs, 8 oz)
3. Grammys (6 lbs, 8 oz)
4. Golden Globes (5 lbs, 7 oz)
5. Emmys (4 lbs, 12 oz)


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spotlight Article: Covering the Winter Storm

The last couple of days have been long ones for everyone at WKYC as we, along with other media outlets, brought you expanded coverage of the severe winter storm that pummeled our area. It was 36 hours of hunkering down and covering the storm all across Northeast Ohio.

Many people take the media for granted. After all, we are in the public service industry. Our job IS to keep viewers informed, but there are risks involved that people at home don't think about. Everyday our reporters and photographers put their lives in danger when they go out to cover stories.

You may have seen the story of one of our photographers who was injured recently at Tower City covering a story about kids causing trouble around Public Square. As it turned out, a safe story turned out very differently as the video shows:

During this winter storm, our crews had to face the same frustrations and treacherous conditions that other motorists faced while covering the story. Although we knew the storm was coming and planned for it, you are never completely prepared for the power this type of storm had in bringing the area to a standstill.

Everyone who was out in the field should be commended for not only their bravery in battling the elements, but also their commitment to providing our viewers with information that could have saved their lives.

The people inside the stations were equally brave trying to get to work. They could have stayed home, like everyone else did. But they choose to come to work to keep the station going and the news & information flowing. From the technical crew, to the news department to the business department, it's a team effort that deserves some recognition and thanks.

Monday, February 12, 2007

From the Mailbag: I-Alert Distorting Pictures

From: nwitcraft via email

Q: Why is the picture on WKYC-HD stretched when the iAlert school closing graphic is on the screen? The picture above the school closings looked distorted. The picture would look better if it was 4:3 with the sidebars like normal. Everything else is great, I like the new news graphics.

A: We believe this problem has been fixed now. The graphics were too big for the screen, which caused us to squish the picture too much, thus giving you a distorted image. Part of the problem is our Master Control is not HD yet, so we are doing this as a bypass through the HD Control Room direct to air.

From the Mailbag: How About Photos?

From: Luke in Canton

Q: I just discovered your blog yesterday via the blog Ohio Media Watch; I've just caught up on all your posts. Pretty cool job so far but there is something that I think could really add to it -- pictures. Give us pictures of the graphics your talking about and give us before and after pics of the Channel 3 set changes etc.

A: I'm currently working on adding pictures to the blog...but it might take me a few weeks before that happens, mainly for technical reasons. We have to figure out the best way to upload the pictures so everyone can view them. Honestly, I didn't think we'd get so many hits on the blog so quickly.. But, that's GREAT thing!

Spotlight Article: The Akron Canton News

This week, I'll talk about our Akron Canton News (ACN) since it's been a focus our blog lately with it's move back to Time Warner Cable Channel 23 starting this Thursday.

First a little background information on how this came about.

Following the purchase of WAKC from ValuVision in 1996, Paxson Communications abruptly shutdown the "The North Ohio News Station" and its ABC affiliation which left everyone unemployed and Akron without it's own newscast. Only infomericals and home-shopping shows aired on the station on over-the-air Channel 23.

In June 2001, Paxson entered a partnership with NBC - which included Gannett and WKYC - to produce nightly newscasts that first aired at 6:30 & 10 PM. This came at a time when Pax began airing regular shows in the evening timeslots. During that time, the late news shifted to 9 PM, then back to 10 PM after advertisers failed to like the change in time.

Unfortunately, that agreement ended on June 30, 2001. The newscast moved to Time Warner Cable, Channel 23 and was rebranded from "Pax 23 News" to "The Akron Canton News." That is where we find ourselves today.

Now the newscast itself. The ACN (as we affectionately call it) is produced and anchored from the Akron Canton Newsroom at the corner of S. Main and Market Street every weekday evening at 6:30 and 10 PM. This is where the newscast is put together from a rundown standpoint by Executive producer Chris Hyser (6:30 PM) and producer Kim Graves (10 PM).

All the local video is shot and edited in the Akron Newsroom by a group of very dedicated professionals, most of whom worked at the old WAKC. That video is then fed via a fiber connection back to the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center in Cleveland. This is where the control room is (the same as the Channel 3 control room).

During the show, anchor Eric Mansfield sits in front a green chromakey wall in front of a camera remotely controlled from Cleveland which allows us to put a virtual set behind him. He reads from a teleprompter being fed from the Cleveland Control Room.

When we go to Weather, Eric tosses to Mark Nolan or Betsy Kling who do their forecasts from the Ch 3 Weather Plus Weathercenter. Sports is done the same way with Jim Donovan, Andy Baskin or Brian Colleran also here in Cleveland.

The newscast is then fed directly to Time Warner Cable where is then distributed to the cable audience.

Currently, there are no plans to do the newscast in High Definition, though technically the newscast is being switched in the HiDef Channel 3 control room. Perhaps that will change in the future as more people gravitate toward HD on cable too.

TV Trivia: Top 10 Most Memorable TV Cars

From time to time, I'll include some tidbits about TV that aren't directly related to WKYC or Cleveland, but are from the wacky world of TV.

This one caught my eye over the weekend:

Top 10 Most Memorable TV Cars:

1. KITT, 1982 Pontiac Trans Am in "Knight Rider"
2. THE GENERAL LEE, 1969 Dodge Charger in "The Dukes of Hazzard"
3. THE MYSTERY MACHINE, in "Scooby Doo"
4. FERRAIR 308 GTS, in "Magnum P.I."
5. BATMOBILE, modified 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, in "Batman"
6. 1975 FORD GRAND TORINO, in "Starsky and Hutch"
7. 1973 CHEVROLET EL CAMINO, in "My Name is Earl"
8. 1983 GMC G-Series, in "The A-Team"
9. MACH 5, in "Speed Racer"
10. 2005 MASERATI QUATTROPORTE, in "Entourage"


Thursday, February 08, 2007

News: NBC Nightly News Going HD

"NBC Nightly News" on Channel 3 is about to become the first national evening news broadcast to go hi-definition.The show will begin broadcasting in the format in March although an exact date is not yet decided.

The broadcast will join fellow NBC News production the "Today" show, which started broadcasting in HD in September. NBC's "Dateline," which is also produced by NBC News, is not yet making the jump, an NBC spokesperson said.

Though local news markets have increasingly embraced HD as a way of keeping viewers coming out of HD prime-time programming, national evening news departments have been slow to embrace the format.

In addition to the cost of overhauling a studio, the department has to replace field cameras around the world. For "NBC Nightly News," most field reports will continue to use standard-definition cameras until early 2008.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

From the Mailbag: Channel 3 Tower

From: Donna in Cleveland Heights

Q: Why is the "3" on your building's tower blue sometimes and sometimes red? I notice this as I'm driving past the station.

A: The change in color is meant to alert people living downtown or driving on the Shoreway that bad weather is approaching. The "3" is blue when good weather is happening. If the "3" turns red, the Channel 3 Weather Plus Team is tracking inclement weather that you need to know about - usually meaning a warning of some kind has been issued for the area.

So be sure to immediately tune to Channel 3 or Weather Plus on cable or Digital Channel 3.2, or log-on to WKYC.COM

Spotlight Article: The Channel 3 I-Alert System, Part I

This week, I want to discuss our school closing system called "I-Alert" (short for "Information Alert"). We have the most comprehensive system in Northeast Ohio. Together, with a number of radio stations and news outlets, we reach the greatest number of people in NE Ohio.

The I-Alert system was developed as a free public service in tandem with Clear Channel Radio to allow admininstrators of our area private & public schools and select other educational & religious institutions to get their closings on the air in the fastest way possible.

Each facility is provided with an unique password that allows them to access the I-Alert system right over the telephone. The adminstrator can select from several options to indicate their emergency situation to be broadcast.

Some of these options include "Closed," "Delayed 2 hours", "No Evening Classes" and "No After School Activities." AM Closings are cleared from the system at 9:35 AM, Afternoon closings at 7:35 PM and next day closings should be called in after 8 PM.

This information is instantly fed into our Master Control "I-Alert" system which signals to the operator on duty that new alerts have arrived and are ready to air. This person can then squeeze our programming back to instantly get the information on for our viewers.

During newscasts, we also have the capability in the control room to squeeze back our newscasts and to run the I-Alerts as long as needed. Monday, for example - we aired school closings continuously through the newscasts and other programming due to the more than 600 cancellations for Tuesday Morning.

Our "I-Alerts" also appear on several other outlets:





The Akron Canton News & Weather Plus (Time Warner Digital Channel 522 - check other cable outlets for specific channel information).