Media Notebook: WTVQ, WLEX add subchannels of retro TV

Programs replace weather, sports

ssloan@herald-leader.comJanuary 16, 2012 

Do you enjoy reruns of classic TV shows like All in the Family or The Mary Tyler Moore Show? If so, Lexington's television stations now have two options for you to get your fix.

ABC affiliate WTVQ (Channel 36) has replaced its weather-only subchannel with the national network called Antenna TV. NBC affiliate WLEX (Channel 18) has replaced its Wazoo Sports subchannel with MeTV, or Memorable Entertainment Television.

The decision to switch at WTVQ came because it's so easy to find weather updates, general manager Chris Aldridge said.

"Everyone's smartphone, everyone's desktop and every station's Web sites have weather. It's just a click away," Aldridge said. "To continue in weather for our third channel just didn't seem to make a lot of sense for us since there are so many sources for that."

WLEX made the decision to switch Channel 18.2 to MeTV because Wazoo Sports, which primarily aired regional high school sporting events, was not "strong enough to make a second commitment to it," WLEX General Manager Pat Dalbey said.

Wazoo Sports filed for bankruptcy protection in late December.

To learn more about each new station's offerings, go to Antennatv.tv or Metvnetwork.com. Both stations also air on Insight's cable lineups: Antenna TV is on Channel 188, and MeTV is on Channel 186.

WLEX a ratings winner

WLEX's newscasts topped those of other Lexington stations in November. The NBC affiliate won six of the eight competitive newscast time slots in household ratings, dropping only noon and 12:30 p.m. to CBS affiliate WKYT (Channel 27).

"We couldn't be happier," news director Bruce Carter said. "It was a reaffirmation of the May book, which was a very good ratings book for us.

"In July, we were sort of flat from the year earlier, and we bounced back in November to just incredible ratings."

Carter also said the station's 4 and 7 p.m. newscasts are "exactly where we wanted them to be a year after launch."

"We've had growth every single ratings book," he said. "People have found them, and it's nice to have news on a number of different program schedules so people can have a choice of which newscast to watch."

Comings and goings

■ Longtime WEKU radio reporter Ron Smith has retired. Smith began his career at the public radio station in July 1976 and has worked in that industry since 1972.

"Ron Smith is a public radio pioneer. He began his work as a broadcast journalist 39 years ago, when public radio was in its infancy," WEKU News Director Charles Compton said. "His work shaped public-radio journalism in this commonwealth, making it a powerful force for positive change, thus improving the quality of life for all Kentuckians."

Compton said Smith's work in recent years focused often on religion, and he won a national award from the Religion Newswriters Association last year.

"He brought to the subject a rare sensitivity. Ron understands that in a community like Kentucky, religion can be divisive," Compton said. "But he also understood it has the power to improve the human condition, and he focused on those attributes of spirituality that many of us share which can be part of the human experience."

Since 2005, Smith has taught international students in Eastern's English language instruction program. He plans to continue doing that in retirement and will do occasional reporting for WEKU, too.

■ Kentucky Public Radio has hired cn | 2 political reporter Kenny Colston to be its Frankfort bureau chief. Colston had worked for Insight Communications' cn | 2 since spring 2010 and previously was editor of the Kentucky Kernel, the student newspaper at the University of Kentucky. He replaces longtime bureau chief Tony McVeigh, who left the position in July.

■ After three years at the station, WLEX reporter Jackie Congedo has taken a position with Cincinnati's NBC affiliate WLWT. A search is under way for her replacement.

■ WTVQ has hired a replacement for longtime anchor and reporter Kristi Runyon.

Lauren Gawthrop, who is anchoring the morning and noon newscasts with Doug High, previously did freelance work in the Cincinnati area. She also previously worked at a station in Fargo, N.D., news director Doug Hogan said.

Runyon left for a public relations position with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

A minute at a time

WKYT has partnered with Insight's cn | 2 network to produce the KSTV Minute with Matt Jones, who hosts Insight's KSTV sports show on cn | 2.

The sports segment airs nightly during WKYT's 11 p.m. newscast and again during the station's morning news show. It's expected to continue through March.

"It's been beneficial to both cn | 2 and WKYT," Insight spokesman Jason Keller said.

Reach Scott Sloan at (859) 231-1447 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1447.

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