Monday, April 30, 2007

TV Trivia: Happy Birthday Public Television!

On April 30, 1939 - Public Television officially began. President Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first chief executive to appear on TV. Roosevelt spoke at the opening ceremonies of the New York World's Fair in Flushing, New York on WNBT in New York City.

Spotlight Article: Working with a New, News Director

As you may have heard, Channel 3 News Director Mike McCormick recently left the station after a short stay. The reasons are not important, except to the people who work here at the station. But, it opens up an opportunity for a brief discussion about what it's like to work under different news directors from a directing standpoint.

First off for non-tv people reading our blog - the News Director is the manager of the newsroom. They are the professionals who run News Departments. They study ratings intensely. Set goals. Lead planning meetings. And they ultimately have the final say in what gets included in a newscast. They are the ones who hire and fire the on-air staff. They often make the big bucks.

In contrast, a newscast Director is what I am - a control room manager whose job is to execute the newscast during the live or taped broadcasts. It's a very different type of position which is still an important leadership role.

Now back to News Directors - One thing I noticed is that their position seems to be more volatile than most positions at the station. Since I joined the staff in 1994, I have worked with 5 news directors (Tony Ballew, Kathy Williams, Randal Stanley, Dick Moore, & Mike McCormick) in the past 13 years... that averages about 2.6 years each - not a long time...but comparable to other broadcast outlets.

With Mike's departure, Assistant News Director Rita Andolsen was named Interim News Director - a position we all hope becomes permanent for her.

Every time a new News Director enters the building, things change. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not. People get nervous...expectations change...and you quickly learn to adjust and execute the News Director's guidelines. There are new and fresh ideas brought into the mix and it's up to us, the directors to implement these in our on-air look.

This includes having to change "how" we present the news. Sometimes it's different camera angles or zooms, using more or less graphics, slowing or increasing the pacing of the show and such. Some News Directors are very "hands on" - while others are not.

Some actually come into the control room and supervise coverage - making immediate decisions about where to do and what to do next in breaking news situations. These commands are usually channeled at the producers. But in the past, I have been given direct orders by News Directors superceding the Producer - who by definition at this facility, is in charge of making control room decisions.

News Directors also have a way of setting the mood of the newsroom and sometimes the whole building. These feelings need to be positive and encouraging in order to get the most from your staff. That mood can turn harmful and distracting if the news department loses confidence in a News Director's leadership abilities.

Like any managerial position, it's a fine line you have to draw about being in charge vs. having the respect of your co-workers to get the job done which equals ratings!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Director's Alert: Former Cleveland TV/Radio Personality Dies

A Cleveland entertainer once known to Detroit T-V viewers as "Sir Graves Ghastly" has died. Actor Lawson Deming has died at a Cleveland nursing home according to his son. He was 94.

The lifelong resident of the Cleveland area had most recently hosted a horror movie program on Detroit's WJBK TV for 16 years, beginning in 1967. Deming traveled to Michigan twice a month to tape the show. His career began on legendary radio station, WHK in 1932.

In 1949, Deming began working at WNBK TV, Channel 4 in Cleveland as host of the "One O'Clock Playhouse" - a popular afternoon movie show.

Later, he appeared on KYW TV, Channel 3 (Now WKYC) on the T-V puppet show "Woodrow the Woodsman." His face never actually appeared on the screen, but he co-produced the puppets and his voice we used for many of the animal friends on the show. Funeral services will be held this Sunday in Lakewood.

Read More:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TV Trivia: TV-Turnoff Week

Although we DO NOT invite you to participate in this highly overrated event, it does bring up some interesting statistics:
TV-Turnoff Week, which runs through Friday, is an annual event that encourages people around the world to turn off their televisions, read more and concentrate on living.

According to
* There are 2.55 people in the average American household - and 2.73 TVs.
* 50% of American homes have at least 3 televisions or more; 19% of homes have only 1.
* In 1975, only 11% of U.S. households had more than 3 TVs - and 57% only had 1.
* The average American home has the TV on for well over 8 hours every day.
* The average American watches 4 hours and 35 of TV each day.
* One in four children under the age of 2 has a TV in his or her bedroom.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Director's Alert: Another WKYC First

Tonight at 6 PM, WKYC launched its very first - single sponsor newscast in the Cleveland television market. Ohio Savings Bank, which changed its name to AmTrust on Monday, bought the entire 1/2 hour of Channel 3 News to bring you a virtually uninterrupted newscast.

NBC News first tried the concept when Philips Electronics sponsored NBC Nightly News last December 10, 2006. That Monday, NBC was able to present another 6 minutes of news stories in their broadcast. This generated "extraordinary" feedback from their viewers and helped NBC jump 8% in viewers that night.

As advertisers look for more unique ways to separate themselves from the competition, we may find more single sponsor TV shows in the future...including on WKYC.

News: NBC Signs Agreement for U.S. Figure Skating

NBC Sports has just signed a new multi-year agreement with U.S. Figure Skating where NBC will broadcast High Definition, live coverage of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The three-year partnership, which runs through the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, will also include the Saturday Night primetime coverage of the ladies free skate and international even Skate America.

Cleveland was recently selected to host the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championship, tentatively scheduled for January 18-25th, 2009. The Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cavaliers, will serve as the primary competition venue with the historic Cleveland Public Hall serving as the secondary venue.

This means that WKYC will be airing the entire competition in HD which should be spectacular.

The event, held annually since 1914, is the nation's most prestigious figure skating event. Over the course of a week the event will crown 12 national champions in ladies, men's, pairs and ice dancing on the senior, junior and novice levels.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spotlight Article: Upconverted & Downconverting Video

I haven't written much about the technical side of HDTV lately, so an article is due. One thing I quickly discovered was that no one really seemed to explain HD in layman's terms. Articles were always too technical or so involved that I lost interest quickly. I hope this article is more to the point.

Two terms exist in the new wonderful world of HDTV that users should be familiar with - "up" conversion and "down" conversion. It's basically the process of going from low resolution video to high resolution video or vice versa.

Upconverting is the process of "upping" the amount of low resolution signal by adding pixels to fill an HDTV screen. For example, an upconverted DVD player is not true high definition like HD DVD or Blu Ray. It's still 480 lines of resolution, but uses a video scaling processor to create a picture that's almost HDTV quality. This is how you can watch regular movies on an HDTV using an upconverting DVD player. Other terms meaning the same thing include "upscaling" or "upsampling."

Downconverting is the process of taking higher resolution video and reducing the amount of pixels so you can watch video on a more traditional, lower quality device like analog TVs. The goal here is to keep the image from looking stretched or distorted. This is also referred to as "downscaling" or "downsampling."

On the broadcast level, we use professional converter boxes that work in the same way. Instead of adding pixels, we can add side panels or "flags" to video that is shot in 4X3 but aired in a 16x9 environment. We can fill the left and right sides of the screen with the filler image we choose.

Likewise, video shot in the 16X9 format during our newscasts is still seen properly on a 4x3 TV set using downconverters to take the center cut of 16X9 video and eliminating the extra space on the right and left hand sides without changing the aspect of the video itself.

The HD world is a very confusing one for the average person. However, learning a piece of knowledge here and there will eventually help to give you the overall picture in the few short years before this technology is forced upon us whether we are ready or not.

Web: Television Obscurities

While surfing the web for television goodies, we find the following site that TV buffs might be interested in:

Television Obscurities is home to an ever-expanding collection of oddities, curiosities and relics from television's past and present. Inside the website, you'll find some 50 articles covering subjects like short-lived programs, unsold pilots, lost television promos and more.

The link is:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Director's Alert: Browns Return to WKYC & STO in HD

WKYC & the Cleveland Browns have just announced that the Cleveland Browns Preseason Football & other exclusive Browns programming will return to WKYC and SportsTime Ohio for the next 3 years. Plus all the preseason games will be broadcast in High Definition for the 1st time ever.

Here's what to expect...

*Preseason Games
*Regular Season, PreGame Shows
*Browns Tonight (Sunday Nights at Midnight)
*The Point After (Mondays at 7 PM)

On SportTime Ohio:
*Re-Run of all preseason games (day after airing on WKYC)
*Sunday Strategy
*Berea Report
*Training Camp Daily

PreSeason Games - All Broadcast in HD

Saturday, August 11 @7:30 PM - Browns vs. Kansas City
Saturday, August 18 @7 PM - Browns vs. Detroit
Saturday, August 25 @9 PM - Browns at Denver
Thursday, August 30 @8 PM - Browns at Chicago

Read More about the announcement on

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

From the Mailbag: Ratings and Shares

From: Chris in Parma

Q: You mentioned ratings and shares in your earlier article, what does that mean?

A: Rating and Share is the way that Neilsen (the company that handles rating TV outlets) puts a number on the amount of people watching a television program or station. In my example from Monday, Channel 3 News at 7 received almost an 11 rating. A "Rating" point is equal to roughly 15,375 households in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton market... which means 169,125 households.. Each household is roughly 2.3 people or 388,988 people were watching Channel 3. That's a lot.

The "Share" means what percentage of the audience who was was watching TV at that time was turned to a particular program or station. In this instance, nearly 17% of the audience (about 1 in 5 viewers) were watching WKYC from 7 - 7:30 pm. This includes all those watching satellite, cable and broadcast TV in the Cleveland/Akron market.

You can read more about ratings at:

Send your questions to me at:

News: Former WKYC News Director Takes New Job

From our friends at NorthEast Radio Watch:

*Randal Stanley, who served as WGRZ (Channel 2)'s news director before moving on to Cleveland (WKYC) and Washington (WUSA), has now departed the Gannett station in D.C. to become news director at News 12 New Jersey.
In addition to the above information, I'll add:

Randal left WUSA several months ago to join his wife, Jeanna Knighton (also a former WKYC staffer) and their family who recently moved to the New York area. Jeanna recently took the position of Director of Financial Planning for Hearst-Argyle. Randal's new station, News 12, is a Cablevision-owned 24/7 News Channel where he will oversee a staff of more than 150.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spotlight Article: Breaking News Part 2

Yesterday, I talked a little about the Breaking News situation and how we dealt with handling the Virginia Tech Shootings.

A couple of things I would like to add today. First, our gamble paid off with moving "Talkin' Tribe" to Sportstime Ohio while we did news on Channel 3 at 7 PM instead. In the overnight Neilsen ratings, Channel 3 posted about an 11 Rating/17 Share from 7-7:30 PM. It was our highest rated show of the day...though the 6 & 11 PM also ranked first in their respective timeslots.

How did we get anchor Tim White to Virginia so fast? He was actually in Washington D.C. at the time the shootings occurred getting ready to fly back to Cleveland to anchor the news Monday Night. Tim was able to be in the right place at the right time - and drove to Blacksburg to begin our on-site coverage of a story that has become a national and a local story...since it was just a few years ago that Case Western experienced a similar attack.

Because we couldn't get our satellite truck from Cleveland there as fast as Tim, we relied on our Gannett sister stations nearby to provide uplinks with their equipment for our live coverage. It's one of the perks of having a large company own you. You have lots of resources available to you across the country.

A day later, the other local Cleveland stations finally arrived....

Monday, April 16, 2007

News: May Sweeps

May Sweeps run April 26th through May 23rd...

Should be an interesting book...

Will Channel 8 be able to hold to its "Idol" lead-ins...will Channel 5's "Nightbeat 11 PM" fall flat... will Action News continue to be "Re-Action" News?

Channel 3 is ready for a good battle!

Spotlight Article: Breaking News

Today was a great example of how being a Director can add years to your life in a matter of minutes. It's also a time when you have to become extremely focused on what you are doing and be a leader in the process.

Normally on Monday Nights, we air "Talkin' Tribe" at 7 PM on WKYC which eliminates a newscast in favor of the sports show - which we still direct live, but takes less time & staffing resources to execute than a newscast.

A little after 4 PM today, the decision was made to move "Talkin' Tribe" to Sportstime Ohio so we could bring viewers the latest information on the Virginia Tech tragedy at 7 pm... meaning we were expected to do 2 shows live AT THE SAME TIME. This in itself isn't that unusual since we normally have Indians being done live in Studio B while we are doing news live in Studio A.

The main factor today was we didn't have two crews scheduled or a plan for putting together a 7 PM newscast. So, we quickly coordinated our resources between news, engineering, and production - brought a few people in, kept a few people over and made it happen.

Fortunately, we have 2 control rooms (A Control is for news, B Control is the Indians control room) which can also be used in a situation like this.

It all came off without a hitch. Al Wohl directed the 6, I did the Akron Canton News at 6:30 PM and the 7 PM News.. and Matt Babb directed "Talkin' Tribe" - and everyone was happy. If folks wanted news, they got news. If they wanted Indians, they got Indians.

This is the future of TV...where a station like ours is multi-channeled. The days of a station being a single entity are long gone.

As I mentioned, we currently offer 7 streams of programming out of the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center:

WKYC - Analog TV 3
WKYC-DT - Digital Channel 2
Weather Plus
ION - WVPX Channel 23
Sportstime Ohio
Akron Canton News

Thursday, April 12, 2007

News: HDTV Penetration at 28%

A new study is out regarding HDTV penetration and it's encouraging - but there is still a long ways to go before the mandated February 17, 2009 transition from analog to digital broadcasting.

About 28 percent of U.S. households now have an HD television set, according to new findings by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The CEA set the number of HDTVs in the United States at 35 million. More than half of those sets were in the big-screen category, 40 inches or larger. Furthermore, the study showed the vast majority (86 percent) of owners were "highly satisfied" with their purchase.

The results were released earlier this week by CEA, which surveyed 2,090 adults in December. In addition to the announced statistics, CEA provided some previously unreleased findings from the study.

*Consumers paid an average of $1,347 for an HD set.

*Most owners keep their HDTV in the living room (76 percent), while 8 percent have one in the master bedroom. Storage of the set is fairly evenly split between TV stands (37 percent) and entertainment centers (33 percent), indicating a lack of interest in cumbersome wall-mounting.

*Most said they received content with a cable set-top-box (40 percent), followed by satellite (34 percent), cable without a set-top box (18 percent), antenna (10 percent), Internet (4 percent) and fiber optic line (4 percent).

*Watching TV (92 percent) and DVDs/VCR tapes (80 percent) were the primary uses of the HDTV, followed by playing video games (37 percent), listening to music (35 percent), viewing digital photos (12 percent) and accessing the Internet (6 percent).

Courtesy: Consumer Electronics Association (

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where Are They Now?: Donna Terrell

This month's featured former WKYC personality is Donna Terrell who was our weekday morning and noon anchor with Don Hammond on Channel 3 News Today. Along with her anchoring duties, she also held the positions of Medical Reporter and Weekend Anchor of Channel 3 News at 6 & 11 PM with Steve Miles. In fact, Donna was one of the first weekend anchors I worked with when I started directing at WKYC in the late 1990s.

After leaving Cleveland, Donna headed to Detroit where she served as anchor for WKBD-TV and WWJ-TV. She anchored the UPN Nightside News at 10 PM which was voted "Best of Detroit" by the Detroit Free Press. In addition, Donna spent time reporting and anchoring in newsrooms in South Bend, Indiana and Battle Creek, Michigan.

In February 2004, Donna traveled westward to Little Rock, Arkansas where today she is anchor for KLRT, FOX16 News and the "Family Health" cast weekdays at 5. Donna is also the host of "Arkansas Now," a weekly program which airs Saturday mornings on FOX16 and Sunday mornings on their CW sister station.

Throughout her broadcast career, Donna has been honored with several awards. She has garnered two Emmy Awards for her work bringing light to cosmetic surgery and breast cancer issues. She has been nominated for many Emmy Awards including a recent nomination for a story she did involving Arkansas' Little Rock 9. In addition, Donna earned Associated Press Awards on a story she did on her daughter's battle with colon cancer and for a Special Assignment she covered on the controversial patients' right to die issue. Donna also had the opportunity to cover several major events including Nelson Mandela's tour of the United States after his release from a South African prison. And she still gets excited when she talks about her work with the FOX16 sports department covering Arkansas' Jermain Taylor's World Middleweight Championship fights in Las Vegas and Memphis.

If you would like to email Donna, her address is:

News: Channel 3 Newscast Requests

We get requests all the time for copies of our newscasts or any special programs that air on Channel 3.

Unfortuately, we can't handle the huge amount of inquires we get...but there is an alternative.

You can contact "Newswatch" which has a 2 year archive of everything that we've aired. There is a modest fee involved and you can contact them at (216) 524-8300.

Monday, April 09, 2007

From the Mailbag: Problem Getting WKYC on Digital Channel 2

From: Mike in Kent

Q: I'm a student at Kent State, and live in Ravenna. I bought an ATSC tv not too long ago. I am able to get WEWS, WJW, and all of the Youngstown outlets for ABC, CBS, and NBC. But I can't seem to get KYC... I've tried in clear weather.. Ohio weather.. night or day.. I can't get anything.. I've looked at the footprint on the FCC entry.. and it seems like your signal should be stronger than the ones from Youngstown. I get the analog signal loud and clear.. but not the digital one..
If you could shed some light this I would appreciate it..

A: Yes, we are having trouble getting out very far on our Digital Channel 2 right now. It's just not a good channel to be on. However, we are going to move to Channel 17 which will be a VAST improvement. The FCC has approved this, but we are waiting for the Canton station on analog Channel 17 to move to their digital channel. I'm not sure when this will happen, though plans are well underway for a change in facilities at our transmitter location. For now, your best bet is cable for receiving our HD signal.

Send your emails to me:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

From the Mailbag: Postponing the Indians Games

From: Mark in Burton

Q: Since the Home Opener game was first rescheduled for Saturday, then the Sunday Indians game was also supposed to be seen on Channel 3 and cancelled - what do you fill your programming with?

A: We always have backup plans for such the the show must go on regardless of what happens with the weather. In place of the games, you will see alternate programming air. Our programming department always has a backup plan ready to go with standby shows just in case. So, don't worry Mark, color bars will not air today!

Email your questions to me:

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

TV Trivia: "You've Got Mail" - The WKYC Connection

USA Today ran an article yesterday that hit home here at Channel of our very own was recognized for having uttered one of the top quotes of the last quarter century in USA's special 25th anniversary poll. (USA Today & WKYC are both owned by Gannett).

Elwood Edwards who is the Graphics Supervisor here at the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center is the man whose voice you hear when you open your AOL account only to discover that "You've Got Mail" - the now famous phrase he first recorded in 1989. Edwards' wife overheard online service Q-Link CEO Steve Case describe how he wanted to add a voice to its user interface. That October Edwards' voice premiered on AOL's new program.

He is also recognized for other famous greetings like "Welcome," "You've got pictures," "File's done" and "Goodbye."

Elwood's voice has also appeared in an episode of "The Simpsons", where he provided the voice of a virtual doctor whose lines were: "You've got leprosy" and "Goodbye."

And if you ask him nicely - very nicely - when you take a tour of WKYC, he just may utter "the phrase" that pays for you!

Feel free to contact Elwood here at WKYC:


In case you've missed the list of the other top phrases... here are the top 5... Check out to read the rest.

Top 5 Quotes of the Last 25 years

1. "Let's roll." Todd Beamer, September 11, 2001, just before he and other passengers attacked
terrorists on United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
2. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." President Reagan, June 12, 1987, appealing to the
Soviet leader to remove the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany. It fell in 1989.
3. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran, September 27, 1995,
arguing that a glove used as murder evidence in the O.J. Simpson trial was too small.
4. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." President Clinton, January
26, 1998, at a White House news conference.
5. "You've got mail." America Online, 1989. The voice, which still greets users, is El Edwards, the husband of an AOL customer service representative.

Spotlight Article: Chopper 3

Chopper 3 - Click on a picture to view it full screen:

One of the cool tools we have at our disposal here at Channel 3 News is "Chopper 3." It's our eye in the sky when covering news stories from another perspective - by air.

Our current helicopter, a Jet Ranger, came on-line last year. Before that, we shared a helicopter (a very tiny helicopter) with WTAM. But to remain competitive with the other news stations in the market - all who have their own choppers - we needed one available anytime news breaks.
"Chopper 3" is currently based out of Burke Lakefront Airport, just across from the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center. In fact when the chopper takes off, you can hear it fly right over top the building.

There is room for the pilot and a reporter in the front seat and a photographer who runs a rack of transmission gear in the back seat. Our chopper is equipped with three on-board cameras including a nose cam, the tail cam and a camera inside to shoot the on-board reporter. These cameras are currently all standard definition, but will be replaced soon with high definition ones.

As a director, we have constant communication with the helicopter via our communications system in the control room. This allows us to easily coordinate with the airborne crew about our needs and when we will come to them during the newscast.

"Chopper 3" also helps us get to a story quicker than we could on the ground...and cover stories that have an impact on the viewer from above...a perspective you don't always always get from shooting at ground level.

Look up in the sky next time you hear a helicopter...It might just be Chopper 3 hovering over your neighborhood.