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KOLD ADDS ME-TV TO ALT-TV LINEUP

About a month ago, KOLD Channel 13 tweaked its alternate-channel lineup, adding Me-TV to the fold.

Me-TV, aka Memorable Entertainment Television, can be viewed by Cox Cable subscribers on Channel 87, 209 on Comcast, or 13.2 for antenna viewers.

Given that Me-TV offers a lineup of classic television fare—including The Brady Bunch, Gomer Pyle, M*A*S*H, Perry Mason, Hogan's Heroes, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hawaii Five-O (the way-better Jack Lord version, not the current wanna-be 24/CSI hybrid starring Alex O'Loughlin, possibly the worst actor in a drama series on network TV) and one of my favorite Quinn Martin Productions, the sheer detective-level awesomeness of Cannon—the most appropriate way to watch the channel is via antenna, just as those programs were watched during their initial prime-time and syndication runs, on KOLD Channel 13.2.

In the midst of these tough economic times, the TV antenna has been my mode of television-viewing for quite some time, and it offers a nostalgic flashback to the days when as a wee lad, I'd watch TV in the bedroom, clicking the dial in the pre-remote-control era between channels 2 through 13, or perusing UHF fare that was only viewable through the uncertain whims of a tuning knob.

If you worked those rabbit ears on the antenna just right, you might have been able to catch the familiar afternoon syndicated lineup of The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan's Heroes, Gilligan's Island, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Lost in Space and Perry Mason. A powerhouse lineup like that shatters any nostalgic illusions that children exercised back then more than the little couch slugs do today.

Beyond the change in the marketplace that spawned the afternoon-talk and judge-show craze, antenna television today has some of the same feel as it did Back in the Day. The network affiliates still have their classic fare: KOLD broadcasts The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal, which was a horrible game show with Monty Hall at the helm, and might rank as television's most unwatchable game show in its current Wayne Brady incarnation.

But now, through the advent of additional feeds that piggyback on a station's main high-definition signals, many network affiliates provide other viewing options. PBS station KUAT Channel 6 takes this sort of thing seriously. In addition to the main PBS broadcast on Channel 6.1, there's V-me, a Spanish-language education network on 6.2, and Create, a cooking/home-improvement/travel channel, on 6.3. Create is the equivalent of about 22 cable channels in one.

Meanwhile, KGUN Channel 9 provides Spanish-language television station Mexicanal on 9.2, and some music-video thing called TheCoolTV on 9.3.

But my favorite local add-on—just ahead of the flashback-television gold of Me-TV—is KMSB Channel 11's addition of This-TV on 11.2. This-TV is a bad-movie goldmine, with bunches of forgotten public-domain cinematic gems. One Sunday opposite football, This-TV played a double-feature of robot-dog classics K-9000 and C.H.O.M.P.S. Seriously, I've been hooked ever since.

KVOA Channel 4 pretty much sucks when it comes to alternate television fare: The NBC affiliate has nada.

It's still fun to adjust the rabbit ears, just like in the old days. In my neighborhood, I think I could stick the antenna 20 feet underground and still receive PBS fare, and KOLD and KVOA come in pretty consistently as well. However, there are times where some innovative tweaking is necessary to receive the KGUN and KMSB feeds, and the CW affiliate KWBA is a long shot at best, which really irks me if I'm trying to get caught up on La Femme Nikita, produced by McG.


NEW IMG SYSTEM HAS TRANSITIONAL ISSUES

You're probably aware that the UA football team has gotten off to a rough start this season. Well, it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for University of Arizona media-provider IMG, either, as it implements a new system for its radio broadcasts.

Instead of IMG making separate connections to radio affiliates, the radio stations now make contact via satellite to IMG's home base in North Carolina. The IMG connection then runs the game, including inserts for local commercials.

At least that's how it's supposed to work.

For the first few games, the local commercials broadcast on flagship station KCUB AM 1290—which employs me for pregame and postgame coverage—did not consistently play. For listeners, this problem would be most readily apparent when they heard about 90 seconds of the UA fight song.

No, the radio station was not immediately overwhelmed with a need to display its school pride.

The most significant glitch to date occurred toward the end of the UA-Stanford game, when the feed (perhaps mercifully, since Stanford led 37-10) just cut out. This left local board operators attempting to fill the void in a tried-and-true manner: play "Bear Down Arizona," as well as every commercial and public-service announcement in the system while trying to figure out how to get the signal back online.

KHYT FM 107.5 eventually gave up and returned to music after what sounded like two revolutions through the spot library (including a couple of curious commercials from the Continental Adult Shop).

Meanwhile, back at KCUB, about 15 minutes into the outage—which apparently was news to master control in North Carolina—local board-op Zac Ziegler managed to connect to the network postgame portion of the broadcast through a phone-line feed. Even on AM, and even late at night, it was pretty clear from the deterioration in sound quality that something wasn't quite right.

Part of the issue is that IMG master control in North Carolina is operating its six-figure-per-year UA radio broadcast with just one employee handling the uplink. In and of itself, that's not so bad, but said employee is also responsible for the program's halftime and postgame highlight package, as well as on-air segments—that is, when he remembers to turn on his microphone.

Mistakes happen when such overwhelming multi-tasking is part of the job requirement.

Ben Lorenzen at IMG Tucson did not respond to attempts to be reached for comment.

More by John Schuster

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