media notebook

Media Notebook: WLEX news producer, partners launch online comic

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 19, 2012 

Local television producer Jason Stevens is getting a taste of the national spotlight in the world of comics.

Stevens, who produces the 4 and 7 p.m. newscasts on NBC affiliate WLEX, has launched a comic on USA Today's Web site.

Each week, Stevens and his partners debut three new pages of F-OO Fighters, which tells the tale of the best World War II fighter pilots teaming up to stave off an alien invasion. The name comes from the term used by World War II pilots who described seeing UFOs.

"While everyone else is fighting World War II, these guys are fighting for the world," Stevens said. "The pilots are taking on these scout party alien ships as they come in, and the main invasion fleet is on its way."

Stevens wrote the story for the comic and is part of the three-man team behind the idea. William Wilson, a friend he made during film school in Los Angeles who still lives there, co-authored the project and serves as publisher. Jason Reeves is the artist the two brought into the fold.

The trio aren't receiving any payment from USA Today for the comic, but the hope is to build the response into a digital-only pay model that would include being featured on some popular comic apps. They plan to release three 22-page issues through USA Today.

"This is all about exposure with USA Today," Stevens said. "It's strictly online and completely free."

To view the comic, go to USAToday.com, click on "Life" and then click on "Comics" and scroll down to see the link to a story.

"It's been a great thing because we've got a lot of positive response," Stevens said.

So far, the alien baddies in F-OO Fighters have not been shown. But they will be, because Stevens lost out to his colleagues' wishes.

"It was an interesting debate about whether to show them," he said. "I took the stance that less is more, and it would be better for people to imagine for themselves what they looked like.

"I was kind of outvoted by the other two guys. They're not shown yet, but it hits the fan in issues two and three."

WEKU examining changes in equine industry

Public radio station WEKU is taking part in a multistate project examining how technology is changing horse racing.

Topics addressed by the project will include equine medicine, artificial racing surfaces, online gambling and corporate evolution, according to a statement from WEKU.

The Richmond-based station is partnering with NPR's "Innovation Trail" network of stations in New York and Louisville Public Media, and a public radio station in Maryland. The project's resulting stories will be released for public radio stations in those regions before the beginning of the Triple Crown season.

"Such collaborations are no longer limited to national or even statewide networks," said WEKU news director Charles Compton. "Thanks to the Internet, editors and reporters can work on a station-to-station basis on specific stories important to listeners in multiple regions."

KET offers storm tips

In response to the deadly series of tornadoes that struck the region, KET has launched an online severe weather resource kit.

The kit offers ideas on how to help children interpret what they see and hear in the media, how to discuss this type of situation with them, and what you can do to better prepare for disasters.

It also features episodes of children's programs, including Sesame Street, that deal with recovering from disasters. To view the kit, go to KET.org/storms.

KET host taking part in cleanup

KET program host Dave Shuffett is taking part in two cleanup efforts Saturday that will be featured on the April 21 episode of Kentucky Life. Shuffett will be on location with Covington Parks & Recreation to help build trails and remove invasive plants, and in Rabbit Hash along the Ohio River near Indiana to clean up litter. The events are part of Commonwealth Cleanup Week, which promotes a cleaner Kentucky. Learn more at Waste.ky.gov/RLA/Pages/CCW.aspx.

Rogers honored by public television stations

Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers was recently the recipient of the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award given by the Association of Public Television Stations.

KET noted the award is given to members of Congress who support public television stations.

"A champion of education, Congressman Rogers has strongly supported the mission of KET and public broadcasting to provide access to quality educational programs and instructional resources," KET executive director and CEO Shae Hopkins said in a statement.

Comings and goings

■ Doug Hogan, news director at ABC affiliate WTVQ, is leaving the station. Hogan, who has worked at WTVQ since August 2008, has been hired as communications director at The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in Louisville. The philanthropic group works to improve health care in the state.

"I'm excited about this new opportunity," Hogan said. "I want to raise the foundation's profile by communicating how its work impacts health-related topics that are so important to all of us."

A nationwide search is under way for Hogan's replacement. General manager Chris Aldridge said his goal was to hire someone by May 1.

"We certainly appreciate the good job Doug has done for us," Aldridge said. "He's been a pleasure to work with, and I wish him the best in his new career."

■ Adam Yosim has joined WLEX as a reporter. He previously worked at a station in Greenville, N.C. Yosim replaces Jaimie Weiss, who took a position at WAVE in Louisville.

■ WTVQ has a new reporter. Ian Preston, who most recently worked at a station in Evansville, Ind., was hired after Ryan Dearbone left the station to go to Western Kentucky University to pursue a master's degree, Aldridge said.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz

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