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Published: Monday, 1/10/2005

WTOL plans to launch 24-hour local weather channel

In the ultracompetitive game of TV weather, WTVG-TV, Channel 13, scored a slam-dunk against the competition in 2004 by unveiling a 350,000-watt radar.

WTOL-TV, Channel 11, is about to do something even more flamboyant — launch a 24-hour local weather channel.

“WTOL 11 24/7 Weather” will be available to Buckeye CableSystem digital subscribers about Feb. 1, according to WTOL news director Mitch Jacob.

The channel — 111 — will be part of Buckeye CableSystem's digital basic service. A digital converter, which has a monthly fee, is required to view the 24-channel tier.

The company has about 45,000 digital subscribers, which represents 35 percent of its total subscribers, said W.H. “Chip” Carstensen, president and general manager.

Carstensen added that the arrangement is good for both parties.

Buckeye CableSystem is owned by Block Communications, Inc., which also owns The Blade.

Jacob said WTOL is the first Liberty Corp.-owned station to launch an all-weather chan-nel.

The other 14 Liberty stations plan to do the same before the end of the year, he said.

WTOL and Buckeye CableSystem signed a multiyear contract, Jacob said. For the first year, “WTOL 11 24/7 Weather” would be available exclusively on Block Communications-owned cable companies.

WTOL will sell advertising on the new channel, likely offering it as part of a package with the CBS affiliate. WTOL generates more advertising revenue than any television station in the market, according to industry sources.

Chief meteorologist Robert Shiels, Scott Brown, and Dave Carlson will make limited live appearances on the channel. When they do, it likely will be during stormy periods.

RADIO SHUFFLE: Fred LeFebvre is no longer on the WVKS-FM (92.5) morning show. According to Bill Michaels, operations director of the local Clear Channel cluster, LeFebvre is serving as a producer for the two local talk shows on WSPD-AM (1370).

Meanwhile, “Kimmie,” another former sidekick on the WVKS morning show, is getting her own show on Cumulus-owned WWWM-FM (105.5). It will air Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. beginning Jan. 30, according to WWWM program director Steve Marshall.

RATINGS GOLD: Ken Jennings' amazing run on Jeopardy! — 74 consecutive victories and more than $2.5 million in prize money — was a hit with viewers in northwest Ohio. During Nielsen Media Research's November sweeps, an average of 115,000 viewers watched Jeopardy! each weekday on WTOL. That's more than double the audience the game show had the previous November (53,000).

TOM'S FAREWELL: The final day of the ratings period, Dec. 1, also marked the end of an era for NBC Nightly News as Tom Brokaw ended his nearly 23-year run as anchor. An estimated 43,300 viewers in northwest Ohio watched Brokaw's final broadcast. NBC Nightly News averaged 27,000 viewers during the ratings period.



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