Monday, June 29, 2009

KOAA's Jarman wins national Murrow award

Congratulations to KOAA reporter James Jarman, whose undercover investigation into former District Attorney John Newsome drinking on the job won the national Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

Here's a link to the winning story.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kinda neat

KRCC has an online tour of the transmission towers up on Cheyenne Mountain.

Also, Colorado College's public station is doing a special one-day fund drive this Sunday to fill the gap in the station's budget created by the recession.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Fox is in the hen house

Folks at KXRM are mad at me because they say the real story from the May book is who had the top-rated late-night newscast in demos. Which would be them: Their 9 p.m. scored a 4.9 to KRDO's 4.6 (at 10 p.m.) in adults 25-54.

OK, that's a good number (especially because their overall number for 9-9:30 was 6.6, dropping to 4.9 in the second half-hour, which means an astoundingly high percentage of their viewers are in that demo).

In my defense, I believe KRDO's breakout at 10 is still the more interesting storyline, both because it hasn't happened in living memory (well, recent memory) and because the 10 p.m. horse race is head-to-head, while KXRM is competing on a different playing field at 9.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whoa. KRDO No. 1 25-54 at 5, 6 and... wait for it... 10 p.m.

The latest Nielsen numbers are out and they are... unexpected. Unprecedented might be the better word.

Perennial third-place finisher KRDO/Channel 13 jumped the field to take the lead with 25-54-year-old viewers at 10 p.m., and also beat head-to-head rival KOAA/Channels 5&30 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Now, these are the 25-54's demos, not the overall 12+ numbers. TV stations and advertisers seem to only pay attention to the demos, but, as a newspaper reporter, I think the broadest measure is still, well, the broadest measure.

So please note that, in 12+, KOAA still had wide leads at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. But not, interestingly, at 5 p.m., where it was just a hair ahead of KRDO.

Now, KKTV has beaten KOAA at 10 p.m. within the last few years in both 12+ and demos (I want to say the last time was maybe three or four years ago), but I don't think KRDO has had a No. 1 10 p.m. newscast, by any measure, since the '80s. Maybe farther back than that.

What's going on here? It's hard to say. There were some weird, DTV transition-related shenanigans going on that pushed the winter book into March, but, to the best of my knowledge, those were sorted out by the May ratings period.

Certainly, new KRDO owner the News-Press & Gazette Company has been pumping money into its flagship station. That hadn't paid off before this point, but perhaps it laid the groundwork for a surge.

Perhaps the DTV transition combined with KRDO's first-in-market HD newscast to swing viewers its way (which would help explain why the demos look so much different than the 12-plus numbers: Far fewer older folks have HDTV's).

Just strictly looking at the 25-54 numbers, KOAA's ratings seem to have dropped by nearly half at 10 p.m. KKTV was down as well, although not as much. And KRDO was up solidly, which was enough to take the lead. It was a similar story in other dayparts: Fewer viewers watching local news, but KRDO getting more of them.

Is this an epochal change? A passing of the torch? A fluke? It's going to be a long, long time before we can really be sure. Nobody pays much attention to the summer book, which means that the November book will be the next real data point.

UPDATE: One other interesting ratings data point is that KOAA's mini-me, News First Now, showed up in the ratings for the first time, posting 1's in the morning. The channel started out just on Comcast, but is now on cable and over-the-air on KOAA's digital subchannel, 5.2.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

KOAA's John Gilbert passes away

Legendary KOAA general manager John Gilbert died on Sunday in Arizona. You can read KOAA's story here.
Gilbert was 81. Gilbert was as well-known locally for his fiery on-air editorials as for his successful leadership of the NBC affiliate. He managed television stations in New York city and was ABC’s vice president of affiliate relations before coming to Colorado Springs. He served as KOAA's general manager from 1977 to 1998, and was named the Colorado Broadcasters Association’s Broadcaster of the Year in 1996.

Friday, June 12, 2009

DTV - no big deal?

In the end, Friday’s digital television transition went a lot like Y2K: Months of dire warnings and panicky preparations meant that nearly everyone seems to have made the switch without a hitch.

Between 7 and 9 a.m. on Friday, all the major local TV stations shut down their analog transmitters for good and viewers could only receive the signals with a digital TV, a converter box, cable or satellite. The transition was supposed to take place in February, but was pushed back to June to give viewers more time to prepare. It seems to have worked. At KXRM/Channel 21, the station had one call Friday morning, general manager Steve Dant said. The only glitch at the Fox affiliate was that it took five extra minutes to actually shut off the old transmitter.

“The gremlins were loose,” Dant said.

At KOAA/Channels 5&30, about 100 people had called by Friday afternoon. At the DTV walk-in assistance center at 129 N. Wahsatch Ave., Gary Marshall said Thursday was busy, with about 34 people looking for assistance, but only eight had come in on Friday.

If you do have an old TV, it’s not quite a museum piece just yet. You can, of course, hook it up to cable or satellite service, or to a digital converter box. And, for a little while at least, there are a few things to watch in good old analog television: KOAA/Channels 5&30’s transmitter on channel 30 is still up and running, along with local CW affiliate KXTU/Channel 57 (which can also be seen on KXRM’s digital subchannel, 21.2), along with a few other low-power stations.

Those stations will gradually switch over, too, and then analog television will truly go the way of 8-track tapes and Betamax VCR’s.

My TV reception sucks this morning

No, really, it does. I hooked up the antenna to the analog tuner of my HDTV for the first time this morning so that I could properly commemorate the waning moments of analog television. Reception was terrible.

But not so terrible that I missed poor Tim Elbertson at KXRM/Channel 21 announcing that the station had switched off its analog transmitter and, if viewers were still watching him, they had successfully navigated the digital divide.

Psych! I was watching him in analog. It took them another five minutes to turn the darn thing off. Which is funny, because on Wednesday I was talking to KXRM general manager Steve Dant about the DTV thing and I asked him, "So, how do you actually turn off your analog transmitter?" And he said he'd talked to engineering about it and all that was required was the click of a mouse. Doh!

Anyway, funny, but not the end of the world. KXRM did eventually get up a rotating informational segment that explains how to hook up a converter box, KKTV/Channel 11 put up a static display telling people to get with the program, KOAA/Channels 5&30 went with static on 5, but is leaving 30 up as a simulcast (it's a low-power transmitter, so they're not legally required to switch it off), and KRDO/Channel 13 was waiting until 9 to switch...

So, once that happens, I guess we will be in a brave new digital world.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More digital TV silliness

So the FCC sends out a news release earlier today about this cool new program: Local firefighters will actually go out and do house calls to help TV viewers hook up digital converter boxes ahead of the June 12 digital deadline.

Quirky! Fun! Potentially useful!

So I cal the Springs fire department and they get back to me: Hey nobody told us about this.

They may still do it, they just need to figure out what it entails.

Just thought that was a fitting anecdote for how seamless the whole transition has gone.

(I may just be bitter because the NTIA sent out a list of walk-in assistance centers right before I went on vacation two weeks ago. We ran the list and then they called and were like, 'Sorry, we changed all those locations.' Admittedly it's the FCC messing around this time, but shouldn't there be a little more coordination going on?)