By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Nov 26, 2014 at 3:09 PM Photography: Steve Kabelowsky

When talking about television options in Wisconsin, there is a large part of the population that doesn’t know that local channels are available for free. It is surprising in this day and age, but for a large generation of young adults, they only know of delivery through cable, satellite, internet or phone lines.

Over-the-air viewing can be a foreign concept for some. Yet, technology has advanced with antenna systems that can pull in HD signals for free. As home budgets get crunched, the added expense of a monthly cable or satellite package can be too much to swallow. A one-time expense for an antenna can create a cost savings between $1,000 and $1,750 a year.

In recent years, there have been a growing number of viewers using over-the-air antennas for local channels and then supplementing with an internet-based streaming service like Netflix. As the holiday season arrives and TV set prices are greatly reduced, throwing in an antenna could make a great gift package. Newer televisions already have a digital tuner built in, so a converter box used with older sets made before 2008 will not be needed here.

The latest antenna built and released by Antennas Direct is the Eclipse. It is smaller in size than many of the company’s other models, but it packs a nice punch for people living a short distance away from the main transmitter of each local station. Most of the transmitters in Milwaukee are on the near-north side of downtown along the river or close to it.

When deciding on where to locate an antenna in the home, choose the ideal location for the television first. Then, know where the home is located in relation to the transmitters of the local stations. The Eclipse antenna comes with a removable film on the curved part of the antenna. Remove the film and expose the sticky part called "Sure Grip" that can be used to hang the antenna on a wall, or better yet, a window. It will hang on any smooth, flat surface.

Then, using the antenna or signal in jack on the back of the television set, connect the antenna. Use the remote to find the menu option on the TV that will search for the channels. In addition to the main signals, the antenna may be able to pick up the digital sub channels as well. In the Milwaukee market, depending on where the TV is located, there should be a little more than 30 stations available.

"We are seeing a lot of frustrated people," Antennas Direct president and owner Richard Schneider told me when we chatted about the state broadcasting. "People feel that they are in a bad relationship and with (dropping cable and getting an antenna) they have a sense of empowerment."

The ClearStream Eclipse is available in two models, the regular model that works a range of 25 miles from the transmitter and sells for $69.99. An amplified version with a range of 35 miles with a preamplifier included costs $99.99. Both come with a lifetime warranty and are available on the website or at retailers like Best Buy and Walmart.

BIG GIG: Mike Heller of "The Mike Heller Show" on WOKY-AM the Big 920 in Milwaukee and the Big 1070 in Madison, will be filling in for Dan Patrick on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Friday. The broadcast with Heller will be only on the syndicated radio version of the show that will be carried on 275 stations in Canada and the U.S.

Heller will also be filling in for Patrick on Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Heller said this is the 14th time he’s filled in for Patrick in the last 13 months.

THANKSGIVING DAY: Fox Business Network’s "Making Money with Charles Payne" will air a special "Investing 101" at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The program will focus on the basic components to investing and reaching financial goals.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.