Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mixing It Up

Yes, here at your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm), we realize that we've spent a lot of time and written a lot of items on the Now Officially Delayed Digital TV Transition.

As always, we're basically driven by what's going on...and that's been the most active area that we cover. We'll try to mix it up at least a little in this item, though there's at least one DTV transition item in here, too...

IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE...WEEEEE!: An OMW reader recently wrote:

I haven't listened to Tony Rizzo lately but did tune in this morning. I thought I heard him say that this week or next week is his last week. I could be mistaken, but have you heard anything? I'd hate to see his radio show go, as I think it's the most entertaining of all the local sports shows.

Our listener heard Rizzo make the comment one week ago today on his "Really Big Show", mid-mornings on Good Karma sports WKNR/850 "ESPN 850" in Cleveland.

Our answer? Pull back, and take a deep breath.

Not long after that E-mail came in, we heard the WKNR host and WJW/8 "Fox 8" sports anchor mention his radio show's upcoming second anniversary - which, judging from this item we wrote the day after his full-time WKNR debut, would be February 26th.

The announcement of his radio return was made on WKNR then-afternoon-drive host Kenny Roda's show the Friday before (February 23rd, 2007), which means that a contract deal between Rizz and Good Karma was likely completed not long before that.

Yep, it's contract time...and Rizzo also mentioned how much "more money" he was looking to get in his contract renewal. (That's pretty standard stuff for talk radio personalities to talk about on the air, by the way.)

We have no details of Rizzo's contract renewal talks, but we'd be surprised The Rizz's just radio schtick, folks...

WHILE WE'RE AT THE GALLERIA: Electronically, that is, we noticed the other day that "ESPN 850 WKNR" has moved its streaming audio feeds.

As part of its overall deal with network partner ESPN Radio, the audio streams for WKNR and "little brother" daytimer WWGK/1540 "KNR2" have been moved to ESPN Radio's own streaming service, alongside a number of other local streams from ESPN Radio's owned-and-operated stations and some non-owned affiliates - including Good Karma's Milwaukee outlet.

The earlier streaming audio links that have been used by WKNR and KNR2 are now no longer working.

We bring this up because we don't know if various mobile devices (iPhone, Blackberry, Treo) can access the new ESPN-hosted streaming audio feeds...and for the moment, if there's a "backdoor" streaming URL, we can't find it...

DOUBLE HDTV: It's a question that many digital TV viewers in the Youngstown market have asked - why can't they have both WKBN's CBS HD feed and WYFX's Fox HD feed over-the-air?

Though WYFX "Fox 17/62" started as the low-power analog combo of WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown/WFXI-CA 17 Mercer PA, it migrated to the 27.2 subchannel of WKBN's digital signal some time ago... as a standard definition simulcast.

Why SD? The usual explanation is that it's just not possible to squeeze in two full-quality HD signals into the bandwidth of one digital channel. (Of course, the 17/62 combo is analog, and unable to host HD at all. WYFX has offered HD feeds directly to local cable operators in the Mahoning Valley for some time.)

New Vision's Youngstown engineers experimented during the last Fox-produced Super Bowl a year ago, and for a Daytona 500 NASCAR race, sending a new 27.3 subchannel with Fox HD - sending CBS on 27.1 to SD for those events.

OMW readers in the Youngstown/Warren area tell us that New Vision has been experimenting further in the past few days, offering up both CBS and Fox programming in HD format via WKBN-DT 27.1 and 27.2.

How are they doing it?

As near as we can tell, the station is testing new, more advanced encoding equipment, and is apparently cross-converting the CBS HD feed from 1080i resolution to 720p. Fox is already at 720p, and 720p - so we're told - takes less bandwidth on a digital channel than 1080i does.

We have no idea if this experiment will continue...or if the station believes that the two-HD feed picture quality is good enough...

AND ONE DTV TRANSITION ADDITION: We couldn't find it in, but an OMW reader tells us that Plain Dealer business writer Shaheen Samavati did offer up an item on the FCC's digital transition "early filers" list in the Dead Trees edition of the PD.

The reader passed along a version of the story to your Primary Editorial Voice(tm).

The item pretty much echoes everything we've reported here, and that has shown up in FCC records. Except for this line, which resulted from Samavati's calls to local station officials in the Cleveland market:

Stations may still ask to switch early, but not before March 14, because of a requirement to give viewers 30 days* notice. Only WJW Channel 8 and (WVPX) Channel 23 said they are considering that option.

That makes sense to us.

WJW and WVPX are the two local stations which will land on their old analog frequencies when the transition is complete.

WJW will move digitally from channel 31 to channel 8, and WVPX will "flash cut", replacing the current analog 23 with digital 23.

If WJW decides to take "option B", and file after March 14th for an earlier-than-June 12th flash cut, they have an ace in their pocket...the FCC has, it appears, approved their STA request to move to post-transition digital facilities before June 12th.

That request was filed with the intent on making the switch next Tuesday, but we presume its status would allow WJW to file in mid-March - if it wished to do so - solely by submitting a new silent notification...the same one it decided not to file this time around.

WVPX parent Ion has announced a new HD feed of its Ion main programming channel, though Cleveland is not in the first list of markets where Ion HD will debut - for obvious reasons. But we presume they want the ability to launch it the digital signal here at some point...since there has never been a digital feed of WVPX...

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