Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Director's Alert: Akron Canton News Expanding, finally!

After our initial postings about the Akron Canton News not being seen in all of Summit County, did TWC finally get the message that people really DO want to see what's happening in their neighborhood? Power to the People!

From Eric Mansfield's Blog:

"Don't touch that dial: The official announcement is coming Friday from Time-Warner Cable but it looks like the Adelphia customers in Summit County will now be able to see Akron-Canton News as early as next week. I don't have all the details yet, but it will help our newsroom finally reach a major component of the audience. I've heard from so many viewers in Copley, Fairlawn, Hudson, and all points in between, who've been frustrated with no access to the evening news. Watch for the full details later this week. "

Courtesy: Eric Mansfield's blog:

News: Goodbye Analog TV

March 1st was an important date that most of you probably didn't celebrate. Neither did the folks who produce analog TV's. Though, it was good day for digital broadcasting and HDTV.

As of March 1st, 2007, the government officially implemented a ban importing analog TVs from foreign countries or trafficking in interstate commerce of analog sets. This means that retailers of "analog only" TVs aren't allowed to buy any more to sell to you.

This is good news for the consumer, because it means ALL TV's being sold after March 1st MUST have a digital tuner (ATSC). This doesn't mean you have to buy an HDTV, it just means you will be buying a TV that can receive the new digital signals.

Which leads me to say that you would be crazy at this point to go out and buy a TV that isn't at least a flat screen or plasma. With the HD transition date of February 17, 2009 getting closer, it would make sense to spend the money and get an HDTV.

More and more programming is being offered in HD. As I mentioned last week, NBC Nightly News just launched the first national evening newscast in HD on Monday. Expect more programming to come.

If you aren't familiar with the Digital TV transition, you may want to check out the following website:

From the Mailbag: Various Questions

From: Tristan in Cleveland

Q: I like your blog on Channel 3's website. It gives me a look at what goes on at a television station. I was wondering on a few things: 1. How did you decide to become a television director?; 2. What was it like doing radio? (Especially at WDOK and WRMR); 3. Are you looking for interns? I am interested in a summer internship in production, as I am taking a television production class with John Ban at Tri-C West.

A: Cool - a multiple part question. 1) I became a director after working in engineering for the first year or so here at Channel 3. After observing what the directors did, I thought that it might be a good fit for me, so I gave it a try; 2) Radio was fun, but got dull in 1996 when the FCC allowed the media giants to cobble up large amounts of stations. From a "business stance", it made sense. From an "opportunity standpoint" for the DJ's, it was bad news. Many DJs were replaced with automation and voicetracking. I enjoyed my time at WDOK and WRMR.. working for Tom Embrescia, Sue Wilson and Chris Maduri on the managment side was a great experience. Working alongside Bill Randle, Carl Reese, Ronnie Barrett and the other announcers was even better. I learned so much - but it was really hard being 50 years younger than most everyone else at the time. They usually tended to take my enthusiasm as a threat. I was just starting out in the business, so I wanted to make my mark; 3) Jon Ban is a cool instructor. He taught me well at Cleveland State back in the early 1990s. Internships are always a possiblity - you can contact Janet Christopher here at WKYC at 216-344-3333.

Send you emails to me at:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From the Mailbag: Weekends

From: Matthew in Perry

Q: Do you ever have to work weekends?

A: Yes. When you a director, you find yourself working all kinds of weird schedules - including weekends. We only have so many directors that when someone takes a vacation, the other directors' schedules often get affected - including mine though I normally work only weeknights.
Working weekends is fun because it is more laid back than weeknights which tend to be more intense. They are many more shows to direct and less time to prepare between them.

Fortunately, the weekend night crew is cool (as is the weekend morning crew too).

Scott Newell, Lydia Esparra, Betsy Kling and Brian Colleran are a lot of fun to work with so I don't mind it. Plus, I get to work with the ever popular weekend producer, Carrie Young, who tries to work us into a sweat with cramming lots of stories into a half hour show - but that's the challenge - a good challenge.

Send your emails to me at:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Director's Alert: Channel 3 Wins Edward R. Murrow Award

WKYC-TV has won the regional Edward R. Murrow Award for "Overall Excellence" in television news. This is about the highest award a news operation can receive, and it covers the stations in 4 states: Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

This means our news operation in 2006 was judged to be better than any other - including stations in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, etc.

The Award encompasses all aspects of the news operation (including newscasts), spot news, special projects, community involvement, sports, and weather.

The official presentation will be made next week.

News: NBC & FOX Develop Alternative to YouTube

After seven months of negotiations, the deal got done after all. News Corp. and NBC Universal announced a partnership for the digital age yesterday, planning a new jointly-run entertainment portal - as yet unnamed - that will aggregate the biggest collection of TV content on the web and create "the largest advertising platform on earth." The agreement will encompass the vast libraries of television and film content from each of the companies' broadcast, cable and film brands. The deal also contains a distribution component that will make video content available across the leading portals of the net AOL, MSN, Yahoo and MySpace, who will share in the ad revenue and customize its delivery as they see fit.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

From the Mailbag: Station Archives

From: Tim in Canton

Q: I really am enjoying your blog...lots of interesting info. The reason I am writing is I just tonight again watched a videotape that I recorded October 27, 1998 - "WKYC-TV 3, 50 Golden Years". It was fun to relive some old memories and see some people that I haven't seen in years. My question is this: I saw your name on the special's end credits (It took me a minute to realize where I had seen your name before). I'd like to ask how much vintage video there is in the Channel 3 archives and is there more that has been found since 1998? Also, are there plans at all for a 60th anniversary celebration in 2008

A: Thanks for the nice words. It's always good to hear from folks - especially those who recognize my name from somewhere...Ha! Regarding your inquiry, we archive every story from every show on tape backup. This has been going on since the 1980s. Prior to that, only those memorable moments were saved. Hopefully we'll be going to a digital storage backup system soon, so we can find things easier. I'm not aware of plans for a 60th anniversary special. It's more likely, we will wait until our 75th birthday...if TV is still around then. But, hey I'll toss out the idea to the bosses.

Send Your Emails to me at:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

From the Mailbag: WKYC-HD & Dish Network

From: David in Cleveland

Q: When will WKYC HD go live on Dish Network? Dish Network is claiming that the local affiliates are holding everything up because they want more money. Do you have any information on this?

A: I posed this question to our Research Director who shared the following:

"We don't negotiate with Dish Network locally and we haven't heard any news on DISH local HD signals lately. There are probably a number of reasons why DISH doesn't have local HD signals available, the least of which is local affiliate demands. They have a small market share here, so Cleveland HD may not be a priority. We know that Direct TV had to launch a new bird to have the ability to offer service, so DISH might have technical issues as well. Direct TV has all of the local HD signals available now, as does Time Warner and all the major cable providers in town. So "local affiliates" haven't prevented DISH competitors from providing local HD service."

Send your questions to:

TV Trivia: Channel Surfing

The number of television channels that the average U.S. home receives has now reached a record high of 104.2, an increase of almost eight channels since 2005, according to Nielsen.

* In 2006, the average household tuned to 15.7 of the 104.2 channels available for at least 10 minutes per week.
* General dramas still dominate the lineup, comprising 50% of the primetime programs.
* The 30-second commercial is still the TV advertising standard in primetime, accounting for 57% of all commercials.
* On average, there are 111.4 million TV homes in the U.S..
* 28% of U.S. TV homes have Digital Cable .
* 82% of U.S homes have more than one TV at home.
* 84% of U.S. homes have a DVD player.

Number of Channels Available in the Average U.S. Home

Year (# Available) (# Viewed)
2006 (104.2)(15.7)
2005 (96.4)(15.4)
2004 (92.6)(15.0)
2000 (61.4)(13.6)
1995 (41.1)(10.1)
1990 (33.2)(N/A)
1985 (18.8)(N/A)

Types of Primetime Programs on Broadcast Networks

Program Type (# of Programs in 2006-07 Season)
1. General Drama (67)
2. Situation Comedy (28)
3. Other (sports events, animation, quiz shows) (14)
4. Variety (13)
5. Adventure, Sci Fi, Western (5)
6. News (4)
7. Feature Film (3)
8. Suspense Mystery (0)

Courtesy: Neilsen

News: TV Converter Coupons

All U.S. households with TVs that use analog technology will be eligible for $40 discount coupons to buy digital converter boxes, the Commerce Department has announced. That means consumers who have only analog TVs and rely solely on free over-the-air television will be eligible for the coupons.

An estimated 20 million households now rely solely on free over-the-air television. The price of a converter box is expected to cost between $50 and $60. The coupon program will begin January 1st.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Director's Alert: STO Hires Bruce Drennan

More information from the Sportstime Ohio Press Conference held today at WKYC...with the launch of the brand new "Studio C" at the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center.

CLEVELAND, OH - SportsTime Ohio today announced that the network will have programming 24 hours a day starting April 1 and has hired Cleveland radio icon Bruce Drennan to host a weekday talk show.

Bruce Drennan has over 35 years of experience both on radio and television. He was voted Best Cleveland Sportscaster in 1997 and 1998. Drennan was inducted into the Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1999.

"I'm very happy to be back and thrilled to be working for SportsTime Ohio with our focus on all things local," said Drennan. "I can't wait to get back in the booth and talk sports with the best fans in the country."

SportsTime Ohio's show will be called "All Bets Are Off with Bruce Drennan" and will make its debut on April 1 live at 7:00pm. Fans will be able to call in (1-866-STOTLK1) and discuss Ohio sports with Drennan. "All Bets Are Off" will air Sunday nights at 7:00pm and Monday through Thursday at 3:00pm.

"Bruce is a perfect match for our network," said Jim Liberatore President of SportsTime Ohio. "He is a local icon and his expertise is invaluable. His knowledge extends beyond Cleveland sports, which is very appealing to viewers in all of our regions. Bruce adds to our growing talent list of the most recognized experts on the local sports scene"

SportsTime Ohio's programming will be on 24/7 starting April 1. Additional programming has been added, such as "Totally Tribe" hosted by Andy Baskin, "The Tribe Report" with Al Pawlowski and Brian Anderson, and "The High School Sports Insider." For more programming information visit

Director's Alert: Sportstime Ohio Expanding

Just announced today...from Sportstime Ohio at the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center at the new unveiling of "Studio C"...

CLEVELAND, OH - SportsTime Ohio today announced that the network will have several new features during Indians games for the 2007 season as well as exclusive reports with Eric Wedge.
SportsTime Ohio has also signed an agreement with Sports Media to provide advanced features during Indians games. Complementing a new graphics package, these features include a pitch track, zoom lens, batters spray chart and text messaging capabilities. In addition to these elements, STO will periodically return to the studio to check in at the STO Update Desk offering highlights from around Major League Baseball and all sports action of interest to the region's fans.

"Indians fans can expect an increase in the quantity of Indians programming on STO this year as well as a game presentation which will inform and entertain viewers in ways they have never seen during a local sports telecast," said Jim Liberatore, President of SportsTime Ohio. "We are confident and expect this to be the best at-home viewing experience of local sports events our fans will have ever seen."

SportsTime Ohio will also have special reports from Cleveland Indians Manager Eric Wedge. These reports and interviews will be featured during the Indians On Deck pre-game show as well as throughout "All Bets are Off with Brice Drennan".

"I am looking forward to sharing some insight with our fans on a regular basis throughout the season.," said Wedge. "I think, when appropriate, I'll be able to offer some insight as to what goes on behind the scenes."

SportsTime Ohio's programming will be on 24/7 starting April 1. The new in-game features will debut with the Indians first regular season game on April 2 at 2:05pm against the Chicago White Sox.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Director's Alert: NBC "Nightly News" in HD Premieres 3/26/07

We were the first to post this information several weeks ago here on the "Director's Cut Blog."

But today, we hear "officially" from the network that NBC News is indeed becoming the first network evening newscast available across the country in HDTV, beginning next Monday, March 26th at 6:30 PM on WKYC.

"Nightly News" will originate from Control Room 1A, the same state-of-the-art HD control room used by the "Today Show." Brian Williams will continue to anchor from "Nightly's" longtime home, Studio 3C in 30 Rock. Working off the model established for "Today" has sped "Nightly News" transition into HDTV. For this purpose, new Sony HDC-1500 HD studio cameras have been installed in 3C.

Brett Holey, director of "Nightly News," says that the program's existing set was built with high definition in mind and looks even better in the new format. There has had to be some tweaking of the opening segment and an upgrade to some graphics.

The program's studio segments will be broadcast in 16:9, with stories appearing in 4:3 with wings. NBC News expects to begin using high definition gear for field acquisition later this year.

If you'd like to read more about NBC's approach to HD for Today and now for Nightly, this link will take you to an article in Broadcast Engineering, which ran in January:


"Nightly News" broke new ground with Brian Williams' Daily Nightly blog and his video blog on, as well the program's streaming video Netcast and free podcast. Moving to HDTV is another step in making it possible for viewers to access the program in more ways and to attract new viewers.

WKYC is proud to join NBC "Nightly News" in offering even more programming for you in HD.... as we "Re-define TV."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Photos: Channel 3 News Pictures

Here are some pictures of Channel 3 News, including the main studio, weather center, newsroom and control room.

Click on a picture to view it in a separate window.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

TV Trivia: Top 5 TV Womanizers

The Top 5 womanizers on TV, according to MSNBC:

1. Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli (Happy Days)
2. Sam Malone (Cheers)
3. Dan Fielding (Night Court)
4. Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)
5. Gob Bluth (Arrested Development)

Courtesy: MSNBC

From the Mailbag: HD Program Listings

From Bob in Bainbridge:

Q: I just bought a new HDTV and love it. The picture difference is amazing. Do you know where I can find a good listing of all the programs in HD on your station and the others?

A: Yes, I use the website which offers a detailed daily listing of all HD programming for both the Cleveland Market stations and others. Click on the following link button:

Send Your Questions to the Mailbag:

Monday, March 05, 2007

Where Are They Now?: Dawn Stensland

To read more about Dawn's husband, Larry Mendte: CLICK HERE

This week, I'm starting a new feature on the "Director's Cut" blog called "Where Are They Now?" I'll focus on Channel 3 personalities who have worked here and gone on to other career opportunities through the years.

We'll kick if off with with Dawn Stensland who was an anchorwoman at WKYC (6 & 11 PM) and then at KYW-TV ( 5 PM) in Philadelphia during the 1990s. Dawn also was a host of "Saturday Morning" on CBS for about 2 years. It was during this time that she anchored live coverage with Dan Rather for several hours the morning that John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crashed.

Currently, Dawn is co-anchor of the 10 p.m. news at WTXF-TV, Philadelphia's Fox affiliate. She is married to Larry Mendte, a former WABC-TV anchorman and former Access Hollywood co-host who currently anchors the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. anchor at KYW where Dawn worked prior to WTXF. They have two children together, Michael (born April 1, 2004) and Lawrence (born September 14, 2006).

Before heading home to Philadelphia in 1997, Dawn worked at other TV stations across the country including Chicago, Minneapolis - and, of course in Cleveland where she was paired up with Judd Hambrick on WKYC.

For 17 years, Dawn has been a volunteer and honorary chairwoman for local chapter programs of the Salvation Army, March of Dimes WalkAmerica, the American Cancer Society, Girl Scouts "Family Partnership" program and the DARE program. Her mom and grandmother are breast cancer survivors, which is why Dawn has been dedicated to charities that support breast cancer research, such as "Race For the Cure."

Dawn and her family are also involved in fundraisers that help abandoned and abused animals.

If you'd like to drop Dawn a note, her email address is:

Photo Courtesy: WTXF-TV

Thursday, March 01, 2007

News: February Sweeps

February sweeps are finally over....

Channel 3 has seen growth from the November sweeps period. WKYC continues to be the #1 weeknight newscast at 11 PM.

The weeknight 7 pm and weekend morning shows were the high points of the sweeps period...seeing nice increases with both.

The ratings which show the demographics will be available March 19th and we'll comment on those at that time.

Onward to May sweeps which run April 26 through May 23rd.

Spotlight Article: Covering the State of the City

As I mentioned earlier this week, today was Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's 2nd State of the City address. Channel 3 was the "pool feed," meaning our station provided the live broadcast to other media outlets who aired the broadcast, in addition to WKYC.

What goes into doing a live show like this? Quite a bit.

First, there are two separate crews who take part in the broadcast. One crew is located on site including a technical director, audio person and audio assistant, floor director, camera operators and other maintenance personnel. They arrive early and set up the equipment, test the audio and video feeds from the cameras & microphones and make sure everything is ready to go at air time. We utilize a little homemade setup that is fairly mobile and allows us to set up inside, near the event. Plus, we have an on-site Director. For today's show, it was our Production Manager and co-worker, Al Wohl, who was responsible for overseeing the production on site and calling the shots once the broadcast hit air at 12:30 PM. Al has been doing the "State of the City" broadcast for the last several years, and knows just the right shots to cut to of the people the Mayor references in his speech. In additon, there is a floor director on site (today, Greg Klinc) who takes cues from Al and makes sure the City Club started and ended the event on time.

Back at the station, we have a whole separate control room crew who takes in the remote video and audio feed from the site and adds graphics, provides videotape playback, commericals and tops off the broadcast as it goes to air. Plus, the broadcast's producers (Brooke Whitney and Rita Andolsen) were in the "booth" making sure everything went according to the format they put together.

Today, I was the control room director who oversaw this end of the production including directing the in-studio portion with anchor Barbara Gauthier. This coordinated effort between Al and I is made a whole lot easier because of our ability to talk directly with each other using the Matrix communication system. We know what each other is about to do so nothing unexpected happens.

Also, today was a "historical" day of sorts for the broadcast because it was the first time that we collaborated with WEWS to bring you the event. They provided the camera operators and set up in the lighting and we did the rest. This allowed us to share the costs involved and each got to air the broadcast live.

Overall, it's a fun project that is different from the daily grind of newscasts. It's more local and live programming. And even though, it's not a glamorous event - like the Oscars - the event is an important one for Clevelanders because of what's at stake locally.