Monday, December 31, 2007

Get To Know Team 3 - AJ Colby

WKYC Weather Plus Meteorologist AJ Colby steps into our popular "Get to Know Team 3" spotlight segment this time. AJ has been with WKYC for the past fews years and currently handles the weekend 6 & 11 PM weathercasting duties on Channel 3 News. We sat down with AJ and found out a little more about him.

Q: When did you know you wanted to become a weather forecaster?

AJ: I was in fifth grade when I saw the destruction caused by a deadly tornado which touched down near Albion, PA back on May 31st, 1985. Although nothing more than a portly little tyke, I was impressed by Mother Nature's pure power. 12 people died in that tornado and I was awe-struck by such raw, unstoppable force. I believe that that was the initial driving force behind my eventual career choice. Meanwhile, I reported my local weather conditions to a local Cleveland TV station when I was 13 years old. My name was mentioned several times as an official weather watcher, and I was immediately HOOKED!

Q: What courses did you have to take when you went to Ohio State University for your undergraduate degree in meteorology?

AJ: Physics and calculus are main stays of the meteorology program. We parallel the engineers' curriculum for several quarters before branching off into our specialty courses. We had to take synoptic meteorology, radar/severe weather meteorology, climatology, atmospheric dynamics, thermodynamics and a host of electives like "instrumentation". Fun fun fun!!

Q: Northeast Ohio has so many different types of weather events to cover, what is the most exciting - in your opinion - to cover live on television?

AJ: I prefer to challenge myself with wall-to-wall coverage during severe spring thunderstorms. I've learned that in order to embark upon this severe weather coverage, you had better have plenty of water standing by to keep the vocal chords lubricated. There is the potential (in fact, the LIKELIHOOD) that the meteorologist on duty will be on the air SOLO for a very long time...upwards of 2 hours straight. With the help of the news department and other valuable personnel, we can get the info on first and fast. First and FOREMOST in our minds here at Channel 3 and Weather Plus...we are primarily concerned for the safety of our viewers. My job is to get the CORRECT information out to our audience in a timely fashion, without over-hype or scare tactics. I love our station's philosophy of "prepare, not scare". Report the Facts, Respect the Truth.

Q: Let's test your weather knowledge...Tell us about "Cumulus Congestus"

AJ: You are too funny!! That sounds like a really bad cold or flu, doesn't it?!? Well, there is plenty of Latin in those words to be had by all! These clouds are usually the precursor to the "King of the Sky"...thunderstorms are cumulonimbus clouds. This "Congestus" is a product of instability and these billowing "cauliflower-like" cloud formations are observed leading up to the thunderstorm (the main event, if you will...) Cu-Co is always a fascinating sight on an active spring or summer weather day. Usually if you see these, you can imagine that huge amounts of air and water vapor are rising high into the atmosphere, cooling and condensing to form these cloud structures. Isn't this stuff amazing?

Q: Do you feel you are an Xband or Nexrad type of weather guy?

AJ: At Channel 3, we have BOTH!! :-) What more could anyone ask, I ask? They are both very useful for different types of weather phenomena. I enjoy XBAND for the immediacy and live-nature of the data. As the sweep moves around the dial, you know that each 360 degree pass around the dial is a fresh "picture" of what the target (precip usually) is doing out there. The XBAND "LOOP" is smoother and more-telling regarding the motion of individual cells within storm clusters. NEXRAD, on the other hand, only updates every six minutes or so. This can sometimes miss crucial details in a storm's development and behavior. It's important to monitor BOTH. NEXRAD is also good at identifying heavy precip areas which could mean flash flooding over a certain location. This NEXRAD, commissioned by National Weather Service, NOAA, and hence our federal government (hey how 'bout that...our tax dollars at work!!!) is usually more powerful (higher energy output) and this enables NEXRAD to "punch through" thunderstorms to see what's "out there" a little better. NEXRAD also has "algorithms" which allow the operator to concentrate on storm specifics while the computer monitors storms for possible severe weather conditions. The computer can alert the NEXRAD operator if a storm's characteristics have changed and warrant further attention.

Q: What is you your favorite season of the year? And why?

AJ: I love late spring and early summer...the reason? The weather is not too extreme (not too hot, or humid...usually quite pleasant!) and just as important, the daylight is nice and long. How wonderful!!

Q: If you weren't working in television weather, what else in life would you like to be doing?

AJ: I suppose I cannot imagine doing anything else! If I could, and it paid the bills, I wouldn't mind test driving new cars and reviewing them for a living. I LOVE driving new vehicles around...if I could, I would have a brand new vehicle every week, but that's not very cost-effective or realistic...either that, or I would have to get Leno's gig...not likely!! :-)

Q: Name your favorite car and what features make it so appealing to you?

AJ: I like so many different cars that I wouldn't know where to start!! I guess I love the Nissan Murano and the Acura MDX. I like the looks of Pontiacs and I used to own a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. What a COOL car!! Other cars I've owned include: Chevy Blazer, Pontiac Grand Am, Toyota Camry, Mercury Cougar, Nissan Altima, Nissan Murano. (Yeah, lots of dumb financial moves on my part...I have a weakness and addiction for new/different cars and end up upside down often!! -lol) I wish I could have a weakness for buying APPRECIATING ASSETS!!! There's this little thing we call "instant gratification" ... enough excuses, I just love having new cars.

Q: If we can over to the Colby household, what would we find in the refrigerator?

AJ: Several cans of Diet Mountain Dew (what do they put in that stuff, anyway?!!?) a bag of old salad, rotten tomatoes, various salad dressings, chocolate soy milk, a dozen eggs, I can't believe it's not butter spray, Fuji apples, grated parm cheese, Coffee Mate coffee creamer...yep, that about covers it!! (now we have gotten quite personal!!!)

Q: We all have a favorite place to escape to for vacation or just time away from work - where is yours and how often do you get there?

AJ: I usually take a drive through the Metro parks (beautiful scenery), maybe catch a movie at the theater, sometimes just chill and watch a movie at home. It totally depends on my mood!

Q: What's one thing that few people know about you?

AJ: I worry about stupid little things all the time, yet the bigger things don't bother me as much...strange, I know. Talk about sweating the small stuff, eh??

You can email AJ. His address is:

Pictures: AJ with his dog Phoenix, AJ at the Ingenuity Fest and AJ and his "mini house" - don't ask!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

News: Celebrate New Year's Eve with Carson Daly on WKYC

This New Year's Eve will be rocking on 'KYC as Carson Daly once again hosts our party to welcome in 2008 following Channel 3 News at 11.

Continuing NBC's long-standing tradition of live New Year's Eve coverage in Times Square, Carson Daly will host "NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly Presented by Chevy" (December 31, 11:35 p.m. ET). The one-hour special will include performances by platinum-selling artists Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keys as well as up-to-the minute coverage of all of the action in Times Square.

As in years past, "NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly Presented by Chevy" will again showcase the biggest names in music. "Today" correspondent Tiki Barber and "MSNBC" anchor Amy Robach will help Carson's coverage of the celebration with live reports from the heart of Times Square among the hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Since Keys' 2001 debut of Songs In A Minor, the New York native has built an unparalleled repertoire of hits and accomplishments with over 20 million albums sold worldwide. Songs In A Minor, which spawned her signature hit "Fallin," sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and garnered five Grammy Awards including Best New Artist and Best R&B Album. Alicia's follow-up disc, 2004's The Diary of Alicia Keys, which is currently 7 times platinum, captured four Grammy Awards and featured the hits "If I Ain't Got You," "You Don't Know My Name," and "Karma." In 2005, Keys resurrected the popular MTV live performance series with the release of Unplugged, which has sold 2 million copies. This release positioned Keys as the first female artist to have an Unplugged debut at #1, beating past MTV Unplugged releases by Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Alanis Morissette and Shakira. Keys latest masterpiece, As I Am, which contains the #1 hit single "No One," marks her fourth consecutive #1 debut on Billboard's Top 200 chart. With over 742,000 units sold during the first week, Keys had the biggest debut for a female R&B artist in Soundscan history; and the second highest selling debut week of any artist over the past two years behind Kanye West's Graduation.

Lenny Kravitz has transcended genre, style, race and class into an 18-year musical career, one which revels in the rich influences of '60s and '70s soul, rock and funk. Kravitz's multiple talents as a writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist have resonated through seven studio albums into a timeless catalog, all of which have been certified either multi-platinum, platinum or gold. From 1999 to 2002, he won four consecutive Grammy Awards, setting a record for the most wins in the "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance". Kravitz has a new album set for release in February 2008.

In 2006 more than 7.5 million viewers tuned in to watch "NBC's New Years Eve with Carson Daly." It was the highest rated NBC New Year's Eve special in five years.

Friday, December 28, 2007

News: Flat Screen TV's May Raise Your Electric Bill

While prices drop sales for flat-screen TVs are booming. You might have received one for Christmas, but the hidden cost of your new flat screen: electricity. A lot of people don't about out how much juice their flat screen is sucking in.

Depending on what kind of flat screen it is, it may be a lot. "I try to be sort of concerned about that sort of thing, power consumption and such. So yes, I think that would make a difference in my decision," shopper Alex Pappas said.

At R.C. Willey, like most electronics stores, regular cathode ray-tube TVs are almost extinct. Flat screens--LCDs, plasma screen, and projection TVs--seem to be on everyone's wish list. "They've continually had about a 20- to 30-percent increase each quarter. So, they've been very good, and a lot of that has been because of the going away of the picture-tube televisions," explained Claire Mitchell, of R.C. Willey.

According to separate research from England's Oxford University, the Industry's Edison Electric Institute, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; some of the new TVs are more gluttons for energy than others. For comparison, a conventional TV uses about 100 watts of power. An LCD screen uses about twice as much on average and it depends on the brand. The real energy users tend to be the plasma screens. The bigger ones, which are more popular, can use up to 600 watts of electricity.

Cost-wise, that would about triple the cost of running a conventional TV for the same time. That could be the same as running some refrigerators, according to the EPA, and it could contribute to the overall rise in energy consumption in Utah.

"Electrical use has gone up about 25 percent since the mid-'80s, and that's mostly due to more electrical appliances, greater use of electricity," explained Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen. Some TVs will eat more energy than others, and "Energy Star" ratings for flat screens won't be out until the middle of next year, so, shop around.

To watch a package on flat screens: CLICK HERE

Courtesy: NBC

News: More Than Half of U.S. Homes Own a Digital TV

More than 50 percent of U.S. households now own a digital television (DTV), according to new research released Friday by the Consumer Electronics Association. As the nation transitions to all digital television by February 17, 2009, consumers are adding DTV to their homes at a record pace.

"I am proud to announce our nation has hit this digital milestone. With 50 percent of U.S. homes able to experience the reality of digital television, we have crossed a critical threshold," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. "2008 will continue to demonstrate the growth and success of DTV, with nearly 32 million units forecasted to ship. Consumers are particularly keen to add HDTV to their homes, with high definition expected to account for 79 percent of total DTV shipments in the U.S in 2008."

According to new CEA sales projections, manufacturers will post 11 percent revenue growth, to over $25 billion, from sales of digital televisions in 2007. CEA also forecasts 13 percent revenue and 17 percent unit sales growth for digital television in 2008.

Some important things to remember about Digital TV for consumers:
*Analog TVs for any "over the air" broadcast must have a digital converter box by 2/17/07 (Those who receive their tv via cable or satellite will not be affected).
*Digital TVs are NOT necessarily High Definition TVs
*All High Definition TVs receive digital signals.

Some information courtesy: Consumer Electronics Association

News: Is 150 Inches Big Enough Yet?

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January promises to offer a stunning array of brand new technical gadgets. Reports say the show stopper for 2008 will be Panasonic's unveiling of a new 150 inch high definition plasma television set.

Yep, you read that right. 150 inches. That's 11 feet wide and 6 feet high. You would need a pretty large house for this one.

If Panasonic does follow through on its promise, the world will see the largest, commercially available set anywhere on the planet for the first time. And, that's no small engineering feat with Sharp hot on Panasonic's coat tails with their own 108 inch set.

However is there really a market for this large a set, or will they become impressive display models only? The jury is still out on this, especially after Panasonic - owned by Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. - revealed a 103 inch plasma hdtv in 2006 with a price tag of around $50,000. However, retailers say that one is no longer being sold because of a lack of interest and its steep price tag.

According to the company, this new 150 inch sets would be available in 2009, should anyone be willing to pony up the money for it.

Blog Poll Question:
How big is too big for a high definition TV set?

Please post your comments: CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 27, 2007

From the Mailbag: Thanks for the Director's Cut Chat

From: Tim in Bainbridge

Q: Thanks Frank for the cool web chats you are doing... will they be a regular part of your blog?

A: You bet! I'll be doing this chats most weeks on Wednesday. Just look for the notice at the top of the blog as to date and time. These chats give me a unique opportunity for me to talk with you about television and you can ask all the questions you want - within reason, of course. I still can't divulge station secrets!

Plus after the holidays, I'll be inviting various Channel 3 on-air personalities to join me in the chat room to talk about what goes on behind the scenes here at the Digital Broadcast Center.

You can email your questions to me:

From the Mailbag: Who's Really Number 1 at 11 PM?

From: Herman in Cleveland

Q: I noticed both Channel 3 and Channel 19 are running commercials that claim their newscasts are number 1 at 11 PM...How can both stations say that?

A: It's a fair question. It all depends on which set of ratings you look at for the important month of November. WKYC was #1 at 11 PM in overall viewers age 12+ both Monday thru Friday and Monday through Sunday. So technically, Channel 3 had the most people watching the news at 11 PM. When you break down the individual demographic ratings into very specific age range, the other station can claim they had more viewers than we did in the Women 25-54 demo ONLY - though we were #1 in Adults 25-54 Monday through Sunday.

You can email your questions to me:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Must See Video: Bond set in Chicago TV studio crash

Updated: 12/26/07 @ 6 PM

This was no normal newscast at WLS-TV in Chicago over the weekend when a mini van slammed into the studio during a live broadcast. No one was injured in the Sunday night crash.

CHICAGO (AP) -- A man accused of crashing his minivan into a glass-walled Chicago TV studio during the station's late news Sunday is behind bars facing multiple felony charges.

At a Christmas Day court hearing, the judge set bond at $125,000 for 25-year-old Gerald Richardson. He's charged with criminal damage to property, resisting arrest, reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

No one was injured when police say the van he was driving slammed through the glass wall into the WLS-TV studio. The crash was heard on the air and the news anchor was visibly startled during the newscast.

Richardson's attorney says her client has a history of mental health problems. Prosecutors claim the man "wanted to be on the news."

Double click the "Play" button to watch the video below. If you can't view it on this page: CLICK HERE

Information courtesy: The Associated Press

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays from WKYC & the Director's Cut Blog

All of us at WKYC-TV and the Director's Cut Blog would like to wish you and your families the happiest of holidays and the very best for the coming New Year!

Click on the gift box you think contains the staff Christmas greetings to YOU:

Feel free to post YOUR holiday greetings to our tv and web staff: CLICK HERE

News: WJW/Fox 8 Gets New Owner

Our blog partner, Ohio Media Watch, is reporting today on a Cleveland television matter that WJW/Fox 8 has been sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners, along with seven other Fox owned and operated television stations.

The expected sale should be done by fall of 2008.

Oak Hill runs Local TV, LLC, which had been headed by former Jacor radio executive Randy Michaels. Just this week, Sam Zell closed on his purchase of the Tribune Company which owns both newspaper and television stations. Michaels was quickly promoted to oversee the broadcast and interactive division of Tribune Company by Mr. Zell.

Now Local TV and Tribune will create a third-party broadcast management company which will provide shared services to ALL of the stations Local TV and Tribune own respectively. This leads us to believe WJW could ultimately be digested into the Zell Tribune media empire.

Look for more on this in the coming months. In the meantime, feel free to read more of the details on Ohio Media Watch.

Spotlight Feature: The Writers' Strike & Its Impact

By Frank Macek

Now that the Writers' Strike is heading into its 2nd month, the impact of failed negotiations between both sides is leading down a path that will be nearly impossible to return from.

The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike is a strike by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) that started on November 5, 2007. The WGAE and WGAW are two labor unions that represent film, television and radio writers working in the United States.

The strike is against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade organization that represents the interests of American film and television producers. Over 12,000 writers are affected by the strike.

The last such strike in 1988 lasted 22 weeks, and cost the American entertainment industry an estimated 500 million dollars.

Some late night shows are heading back into production without writers. Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien both announced recently they would resume producing new shows in early 2008. Others are sure to follow suit to safeguard the hundreds of other production employees who work on each of these shows.

Our feeling is three main things are going to happen if the strike continues into the first of the year.

First: You will see the end of the Fall TV Season. Virtually all the pilots for scripted programming will be shelved from production. This will also mean that come September, the typical fall premiere week will be a thing of the past. Once the cycle is broken, it will be very hard for the networks to go back to the traditional way of presenting their broadcast schedules. Instead, we may see the beginning of a 12 month television season where new shows will debut all year. Experts compare this to how the cable networks have begun to operate, where the calendar month is no longer important.

Second: Scripted dramas will give way to another round of reality shows. Because reality shows are easy and cheaper to produce, these will take over as the dominant choice of primetime programming. The majority of the network primetime schedules will be unscripted shows like "Deal or No Deal," "The Biggest Loser," or "American Gladiators." Shows including the daytime soap operas may be cancelled forever. And once they are gone, they are gone. The networks will find the perfect opportunity to dump the high production costs of soaps which have seen declining numbers for years anyway.

Third: Networks will look overseas and to Canada for their programming needs. This allows them to not only get around having to use union writers, but opens up new opportunities for network executives to buy successful shows directly from foreign distributors, effectively outsourcing a majority of the television programs we will begin to see, as early as 2008.

The lack of serious progress between the writers' unions and studio producers are getting to a critical point. It's very likely that another month or two of failed talks will lead to a massive shift in television programming strategies and away from the traditional premiere and finale models that has been in place for many decades.

Television may never be the same again.

To watch Vic Gideon's report about our local writers' strike protests: CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Director's Alert: Bruce Kalinowski Joins Channel 3

Former Weather Channel and hometown Meteorologist Bruce Kalinowski will be joining the WKYC Weather Plus forecasting team.

The Director's Cut Blog has learned that Bruce will be teaming up with Betsy Kling, Hollie Strano and AJ Colby to become a station meteorologist.

Bruce will be mainly seen on our weekend newscasts and filling in as needed for Hollie, Betsy and AJ.

Bruce has been working in the local market for the past 8 years... first at the CBS affiliate and now at WKYC.

Prior to that, Bruce was a familiar face on "The Weather Channel" under the name of Bruce Edwards from 1982 until 2000. Bruce and Andre Bernier were the very first on camera meteorologists to be seen by viewers when the Weather Channel launched on May 2, 1982 at 8 PM. (To watch video of that launch: CLICK HERE)

Bruce also worked for a time at our Gannett sister station, WTLV/WJXX in Jacksonville, Florida.

We always knew Bruce was from Cleveland, cause he always referred to us at the "Best Location in the Nation." Bruce is a graduate of Kent State University with a B.A. in Telecommunications. Bruce is currently a member of the American Meteorological Society, Seal #426.

Welcome Bruce to the Channel 3 family.

You can post your welcome messages to Bruce under the "comments" section here.. We'll make sure he gets them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

News: Next Live Director's Chat on Wednesday 12/26 @ 8 PM, ET

Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's live Director's Cut blog chat. We had a lot of interesting questions.

If you missed it, the next one will be held on Wednesday, December 26th at 8 pm ET.

Bring your questions about Channel 3, High Definition and other tv related matters and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

The chat takes place on the main page of our blog in a chat messenger box that will appear when the chat begins.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Director's Alert: FCC Agrees to New Media Ownership Reform

The Federal Communications Commission has overturned a 32 year old ban this afternoon, allowing broadcasters to also own a newspaper in the 20 largest television markets.

The vote was 3-2 with Republicans Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell siding with Martin. Democratic members Jonathan Adelstein and Michael J. Copps voted against the new rules.

Under Chairman Martin's proposal, one entity would be permitted to own a newspaper and one broadcast station in the same market. But it must be among the 20 largest in the nation and following the transaction, at least eight independently owned-and-operated media voices must remain. In addition, the television station may not be among the top four in the market.

The agency first tried to loosen the ban in 2003, but the move was rejected by a federal appeals court. Since then, the commissioners have been trying to craft a new set of rules that will survive judicial scrutiny.

Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the agency vote.

The second major decision, discussed over the objections of broadcasters, allows the FCC to take the first big step toward imposing local programming and ascertainment requirements on TV and radio stations.

The commissioners voted to launch a rulemaking aimed at requiring TV stations to set up a permanent community board to advise them on programming as a move towards forcing stations to air more local content.

Broadcasters and other interested parties will have a chance to formally comment on the proposals before the FCC considers adopting them.

Third, the FCC is considering capping ownership of cable systems and common ownership of cable systems and cable programming networks.

Finally, the FCC's decided to affirm the TV duopoly rule, which bars a single company from owning more than one station in small markets (eight or fewer TV owners). This has greatly upset owners in these smaller markets.

So, what's your feelings about the new rules and decisions? Will it hurt the industry, help the industry as a whole, or just bring another round of media merging?

Let your voice be heard. Post your comments below.

Some information courtesy: The Associated Press & TV Newsday

News: Call for 2007 Regional Emmy Entries

Our good friend, NATAS Lower Great Lakes Chapter President Gary Manke, has sent us the following information to pass along to you about this year's Emmy Awards:

Along with the holidays, the "Emmy Awards season" is upon us once again and the Lower Great Lakes Chapter Emmy Awards Call for Entries for Broadcast Year 2007 is now available online by visiting!

There have been several changes and seven new categories added, so read it over carefully. The entry deadline is Friday, January 25, 2008. There will be no direct mailing of the Call for Entries again this year - it is available only online! We are also going with an on-line entry and payment system - no more handwritten paperwork or trying to find a typewriter!

And since many of you have requested, in addition to VISA, MasterCard and Discover, we now accept American Express! The on-line entry system will go live in early January. And remember: only DVD copies of your entry will be accepted. Please refer to the instructions in the Call for Entries for more information.

And please don't forget to renew your membership on-line before submitting your Emmy entries! When you visit you will see a renewal link.

This year's 39th Annual Emmy Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 13 at the Marriott Cleveland Downtown at Key Center.

Lots more information is available on the NATAS Lower Great Lakes Chapter website : CLICK HERE

Monday, December 17, 2007

News: Who's the new voice of NBC Nightly News?

Don't worry! Brian Williams remains in the anchor chair at Rockefeller Center, but tonight a new voice emerged from behind the scenes.

Michael Douglas has been named the new announcer to introduce the evening news program from 30 Rock. The Academy Award winning actor has been on the big screen himself for nearly forty years. Now, he takes on a new role with NBC News.

Howard Reig, long-time NBC staff announcer, retired in 2005. However, he his voice had continued to be heard through the magic of recording technology since. Whenever the show was on the road or a new substitute anchor was employed, Reig recorded a new introduction in a Miami studio where he currently lives.

But those weeknight introductions for Brian Williams were officially retired on Friday, December 14, 2007.

Michael Douglas starts a new tradition for NBC Nightly News.

And now you know because you read the "Director's Cut Blog" - quickly becoming the "must read" blog for fans of NBC and WKYC.

WFMJ TV Fire Ruled Arson

We first told you about the WFMJ-TV & WBCB-TV/Youngstown fire back in October.

New information has been reported by The Youngstown Vindicator that the fire was intentionally set, according to fire officials. Here was the blurb The Vindy posted on their website about the incident.

YOUNGSTOWN - A fire that occurred at 4:12 a.m. Oct. 31 at WFMJ-TV 21 at 101 Boardman St. has been ruled arson, said Lt. Kevin Johnson, an arson investigator.

He said the fire was set along storage boxes on wooden shelving in the basement. He declined to say what was used to start the fire.

"I'm reviewing security tapes and employee logs to see who was there. There's still a lot of work to do," Johnson said.

If not for the smoke detector, the building would be a hole in the ground and firefighters could have been killed, he said, adding the basement is like a maze.

Damage was in excess of $100,000, he said.

To read our original article on the fire with video: CLICK HERE

Information courtesy: The Youngstown Vindicator

Thursday, December 13, 2007

News: Digital converter box coupons available January 1st

With just over a year to go before the forced mandate to all digital broadcasting in the United States on February 17, 2009, several retailers have announced they will be accepting the government issued coupons for the new digital-to-analog converter boxes. These will allow analog viewers to continue using their older sets with the new digital technology.

Coupons are available beginning January 1st. To read my full article about this on WKYC.COM, CLICK HERE.

The following is the application information you need to know --

Between January 1st, 2008, and March 31st, 2009, consumers can request coupon applications through four easy methods:

1) Complete an application online:

2) Call for an application 24/7: 1-800-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), TTY 1-877-530-2634

3) Request an application via mail: Converter Box Application, P.O. Box 2000, Portland, Oregon, 97208-2000

4) Fax an application request to: 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)

REDEEMING PROCESS: (You can not use coupons until 2/17/08).
Starting February 17, 2008, - these coupons of $40 each (limit 2 per TV household) will be good towards the new digital-to-analog converter boxes at certified retailers.

*List of currently approved retailers: CLICK HERE
*List of approved converter box manufacturers: CLICK HERE
*View a sample application form: CLICK HERE
*Read more about the converter coupon progam: CLICK HERE
*Government converter coupon rules: CLICK HERE

To watch a video package about the converter boxes: CLICK HERE

Read more of the "Director's Cut with Frank Macek" blog with fun, behind the scenes stories about the WKYC Digital Broadcast Center, High Definition TV and other interesting television matters. Please bookmark our site as new articles are posted almost daily: CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From the Mailbag: When does Tom Meyer start?

From: Janice in Kirtland

Q: Tom Meyer is one of my favorites. You mentioned on the blog that he was coming to WKYC awhile ago, but I haven't seen him on the air. Is he still coming?

A: That would be a great big "YES". Tom had to wait out a non-compete agreement (a period of time where is not allowed to be on the air after leaving his past employer) before he can start on the air at Channel 3. Although, I don't have a Tom premiere date, it will be soon - probably next month. Tom is already hard at work behind the scenes working on some interesting investigations that you will see very soon.

You can read our original blog posting about Tom from May 18th: CLICK HERE

You can email your questions to me:

News: From HD DVD to Blu Ray DVD to HD VMD

This holiday season, there is a new player in the HD market from New Medium Enterprises (NME) called HD VMD to compete with HD DVD and the more popular Blu Ray format for High Definition storage & playback.

This system has had a strong presence in New Zealand, Iceland and parts of Central Europe for a while, but is now just coming on the American marketplace.

The company is touting itself with the world's first low-cost "True High Definition" solution utilizing today's red laser technology, similar to that of the standard DVD.

HD VMD is a true HD format with 1920 x 1080i/p resolution, up to 40 Mbps bit rate playback, DVD up-scaling so users can watch their existing DVD collection and achieve premium picture quality through their HD TV monitors. The HD VMD player is suitable for playback on all HD-capable display devices and will support existing optical disc formats: CD, DVD (DVD 5 & DVD 9). HD VMD players also feature Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and all region codes for greater film viewing flexibility.

Audio wise, the HD VMD format supports up to 7.1-channel Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS audio output, though it will not offer Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound codecs.

The two initial players being release are the ML622S and the ML775S. The ML622S will cost approximately $150.The ML775S will cost slightly more and include USB ports (for connection to external storage devices) and a media-card reader.

So far, no major movie companies have signed onto the new format, but are starting to take notice. This will likely open up a whole new segment in the home entertainment market starting in 2008.

Some information courtesy of: New Medium Enterprises

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meet the NBC All Stars: Tina Fey

Let's take a moment to get to know another one of NBC's big name celebrities. This month in our "Meet the Stars" feature, we spotlight "30 Rock" star Tina Fey.

Tina writes, executive-produces and stars as Liz Lemon in NBC's Emmy Award-winning "30 Rock," currently in its second season on NBC. Prior to creating "30 Rock," Fey completed six seasons as head writer, cast member and co-anchor of the "Weekend Update" segment on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

Fey is an Emmy winner and two-time Writers Guild Award winner for her writing on "Saturday Night Live." Since her transition to being in front of the camera, she has won much acclaim -- including being named one of Entertainment Weekly's Entertainers of the Year, one of People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People" (twice), and one of Time magazine's "Prestigious Time 100." She has also won a Gracie Award, a Made in New York Award, and most recently was nominated for two Emmy Awards, including: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Liz Lemon on "30 Rock" and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

"30 Rock" is told through the comedic voice of Tina Fey (Liz Lemon) and features Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy) as a top network executive and Tracy Morgan (Tracy Jordan) as the unpredictable star of Lemon's hit variety show, "TGS with Tracy Jordan." Lemon had her hands full this past season, juggling corporate interference from Donaghy and off-the-wall star antics from Jordan, all while attempting to salvage her own personal life.

Fey expanded to feature films in Spring 2004 as both a screenwriter and an actress opposite Lindsay Lohan in the hit comedy "Mean Girls," which earned her a nomination for a Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. She is currently working on the film "Baby Mama," alongside "SNL's" Amy Poehler.

Fey lives in New York with her husband, Jeff Richmond, and their daughter.

Catch "30 Rock" Thursday Nights on WKYC.

Courtesy: NBC

Sunday, December 09, 2007

From the Mailbag: Where is Jim Donovan?

From: Bill in Cleveland

Q: I never see Jim Donovan on your newscasts anymore...Why?

A: Jimmy is around, but his duties have him spread between Channel 3 News, Sportstime Ohio and the Cleveland Browns Radio Network.

Because many of these anchoring duties require him during the day or on the weekends, he's not on the weekday 11 pm newscast as much during Browns season.

Plus the poor guy needs a day or two off to regroup - like the rest of us! In January, you'll be seeing more of him - that is, unless the Browns head to the Superbowl - then all bets are off.

You can email your questions to me:

News: WKYC says goodbye to Kristin Anderson

After 7 years as an anchor and reporter, WKYC's Kristin Anderson has said goodbye to staffers at WKYC.

She and her kids are moving to Philadelphia to join her husband, John Anderson, who took a job as the morning anchor at the Fox affiliate.

Kristin began at Channel 3 News as the weekend anchor of the 6 & 11 PM newscasts where she teamed up with Scott Newell about the time Channel 3 moved in our new digital broadcast center.

Also for a time, she was paired up with her husband on the morning newscast before becoming a mother. She returned to Channel 3 as a part-time reporter until her departure on Friday.

Best wishes, Kristin!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Director's Alert: NBC Announces First Quarter 2008 Lineup

NBC's first-quarter primetime schedule is slated to deliver significantly more hours of original programming than was ever the case in the first quarter of 2007. The line-up features a schedule packed with original scripted, reality programming and specials, featuring the return of "Medium" on Monday, January 7 (10-11 p.m. ET) plus new episodes of such favorites as "ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Friday Night Lights," "Las Vegas," "Scrubs" and the returns of "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Also included will be the premiere of the previously announced new dramedy "Lipstick Jungle."

In addition, NBC has a solid lineup of original reality programming, including the announcement of the new series premiere of "The Baby Borrowers" on Monday, February 18 (8-9 p.m. ET). It will join another previously announced new reality series, "American Gladiators," and the fresh season debuts of "The Biggest Loser," "The Celebrity Apprentice," "1 vs 100," as well as the continuing hit "Deal or No Deal," which returns to Mondays (9-10 p.m. ET) beginning January 7 in addition to its Wednesday edition (8-9 p.m. ET).

Sunday specials include "The 65th Annual Golden Globes Awards" -- Hollywood's biggest night for film and television -- broadcasting live on Sunday, January 13 (8-11 p.m. ET), "The Guinness Book of World Records - Live!" featuring a live death-defying stunt on Sunday, January 27 (9-11 p.m. ET) and "Top 100 Most Outrageous Moments" on Sunday, February 10 (9-11 p.m. ET).

The following includes NBC's new mid-season schedule and premieres (all times ET):

Mondays (effective January 7, 2008)
8-9 p.m. -- "American Gladiators"; (premieres Sunday, January 6, 9-11 p.m.)
9-10 p.m. -- "Deal or No Deal"
10-11 p.m. -- "Medium" (season premiere)

Tuesdays (effective January 1, 2008)
8-10 p.m. -- "The Biggest Loser"
10-11 p.m. -- "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"

Wednesdays (effective January 9, 2008)
8-9 p.m. -- "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. -- "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (broadcast premiere)
10-11 p.m. -- "Law & Order" (premieres January 2 with a two-hour debut)

Thursdays (effective January 3, 2008)
8-8:30 p.m. -- NBC Comedy Series
8:30-9 p.m. -- NBC Comedy Series
9-10 p.m. -- "The Celebrity Apprentice" (season premiere)
10-11 p.m. -- "ER" ("Lipstick Jungle" premieres February 7 in time slot)

Fridays (effective January 4, 2008)
8-9 p.m. -- "1 vs. 100"
9-10 p.m. -- "Friday Night Lights"
10-11 p.m. -- "Las Vegas"

Additional programming dates:

Sunday, January 6, 2008
7-9 p.m. - "Deal or No Deal"
9-11 p.m. - "American Gladiators" (two-hour series premiere; regular night January 7)

Sunday, January 13, 2008
8-11 p.m. - "The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards"

Sunday, January 27, 2008
9-11 p.m. - "The Guinness Book of World Records - Live!"

Thursday, February 7, 2008
10-11 p.m. - "Lipstick Jungle"

Sunday, February 10, 2008
9-11 p.m. - "Top 100 Most Outrageous Moments"

Mondays (effective February 18, 2008)
8-9 p.m. -- "The Baby Borrowers" (series premiere)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News: "NBC Nightly News" Wins November 2007 Sweeps

For the sweep, "Nightly News" averaged 9.211 million total viewers, a 1% advantage (+98,000) over ABC "World News with Charles Gibson's" 9.113 million, and a tremendous 37% lead (+2,475,000) over CBS "Evening News with Katie Couric's" 6.736 million. NBC has now placed first for 32 of the last 35 sweep periods, and the last six consecutive November sweeps.

Among the key demographic adults 25-54, "Nightly News" also outperformed the competition during the November 2007 sweep. The Williams-led newscast had a 2.3 rating, 5% more than ABC's 2.2 rating, and a 35% lead over CBS' 1.7 rating. "Nightly News" has now placed first in adults 25-54 for 40 of the last 43 sweeps (eight ties), and the last 11 consecutive November sweeps.

Among even younger viewers, adults 18-49, NBC placed first with a 1.7 rating, ABC followed with a 1.6 and CBS had a 1.2 rating. This represents the 41st out of the past 13 sweeps (six ties) in which "Nightly News" topped the competition among adults 18-49.

In addition, in W18-49, NBC increased 5% versus the November '06 sweep, the only evening newscast to grow in that demo year-to-year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Spotlight Feature: The Birth of the Backpack Journalist

By Frank Macek

The dawn of a new day is beginning in newsrooms across America - the birth of the backpack journalist.

These folks are not amateurs. They are not the most experienced. But backpackers are becoming specially trained people, selected from a pool of qualified candidates, whose job it is to cover stories that may not necessarily lead the 6 pm news. In many cases, their materials will become web exclusives or interesting sidebars in the burgeoning world where broadcast television migrates to the internet.

Armed with relatively inexpensive digital cameras, cell phones and light weight laptop computers, these one man bands of reporters head into the field to shoot their own video, write their own stories, take their own pictures and edit their own footage with editing software that's plentiful and easy to use.

From remote locations, the final products are fed back to the home station via broadband or other upload venues like satellite or fiber optic (where available) for air. Other backpackers will shoot in the field, then return to the station with their reports in hand.

How did we get to this point?

In the "Golden Age of Television," shooting video required sending an entire crew out into the field. You needed a cameraman, an audio man, a lighting assistant, a producer and talent. The sheer weight and amount of equipment made it necessary to employ many people in this process, each with their specialized talents. As you can imagine, this was rather expensive.

Those days are gone in the world of big media giants who have consolidated people into a more efficient work stream. The advance of technology has put ALL those talents into the hands of one person.

A backpack journalist also has the advantage of being able to get into areas where a large camera crew would either be prohibitive or in case of investigative reporting - revealing.

In Iraq, for example, backpack journalists are moving around the war zone bringing you stories - mostly for the web - about what is happening inside the country, outside the capabilities of the mainstream media.

One of the best known backpackers is Kevin Sites (see photo) - who has travelled to every war zone imaginable to bring viewers a unique view of conflicts and how the lives of those people are effected. You can read more about his travels on his blog: CLICK HERE

Some experts worry that these backpack journalists will degrade journalistic integrity as more newsrooms go to this type of process. For one, backpackers may be less experienced in reporting the facts. These backpackers, sometimes called "sojos" - for solo journalists - will likely be the only involved in putting together a report. Will this mean a lack of oversight or multiple eyes on a project? Not likely, as newsroom managers will still be carefully watching what they are putting on their airwaves. If nothing else, managers will want to ensure the stories are timely, interesting and meet the objective - high ratings.

More seasoned, professional journalists are also nervous since they feel they are being replaced by backpackers. The threat is always there in this business. But so far, backpackers are being used to supplement, rather than replace, the true journalists in the industry. Most watchers agree it will take quite some time before backpackers are the mainstream - if ever.

Gannett, the parent of WKYC, has been one of the leaders in this process. With 90 daily newspapers, nearly 1,000 non-daily publications and websites, and 23 TV stations in the United States covering 20 million households, the company already sees the vision of this future.

Television and newspapers newsrooms all across our company are actively hiring people who have the right attitude to undertake the challenges of being a backpack journalist. In some cases, they are re-training current employees in these new positions.

At WKYC, we are beginning to use backpack journalists as our newsroom transitions to the concept of being an "Information Center" - we will no longer be a newsroom....or a television station. We will become a center where information is transmitted on multiple platforms - over the air, on the web, to your phone and to other platforms as they evolve.

In the coming months, we'll share with you more about the concept of the "Information Center" as we implement it here in Cleveland. For example, I am not only a director of newscasts - but also write various blogs (like this one), produce stories for the WKYC.COM and am involved in our weather product on the web. This will become the norm for all employees, not the exception.

In the meantime, our backpark journalists are hitting the field across Cleveland to bring our viewers new angles to interesting stories regarding news, weather and sports. Soon, you'll begin seeing more and more of their reports on the air.

Gannett has professional backpack journalist program that holds recruiting and training sessions from time to time. Our first one began successfully in February 2007 under the training of award winning journalists Harvey Mars and Lane Michaelsen. If you would like to read more about our Gannett program: CLICK HERE

I'd like to hear your feedback about what you think about backpack journalism. Send your emails to me at:

DVR Alert: Cuyahoga Falls' Jenn Thomas Back on Rachael Ray Wednesday


Be sure to tune in to the Rachael Ray show tomorrow, December 5th, on WKYC at 3 pm, when "So You Think You Can Cook?!" Showdown winner, Jenn Thomas returns to boss Rach around the kitchen, as Jenn makes "What's for Dinner Tonight?"

Jenn is from Cuyahoga Falls and was one of five finalists picked by Rachael to compete for the title. In early November, Jenn took home the trophy.

Tomorrow's show was taped on November 28th and will air at 3 PM on WKYC.

To watch Scott Newell's original package on Jenn:

Courtesy: Photos provided by the Rachael Ray Show