Newscasts on WITI-TV Channel 6 could start looking quite a bit different this weekend as the Fox affiliate throws the switch and becomes Milwaukee's second high-definition news operation.
WTMJ-TV Channel 4 became the first Milwaukee TV station to air regular HD newscasts some eight months ago.
Technical issues make it hard to predict precisely when the switchover will happen, but it's certain to be completed by Monday. Another factor making it hard to predict exactly when HD newscasts will begin is the ongoing rehearsals to get anchors and reporters used to the new wide-screen format.
"We've been shooting with the cameras, we've been editing with the new equipment most of the month of November," says general manager Chuck Steinmetz. "Honestly, we've been working towards this goal since early summer."
Without any advance word, Channel 6 broadcast the Milwaukee Holiday Parade last month in high-def, using a truck from Milwaukee Public TV. Steinmetz said that wasn't promoted because it wasn't clear whether last-minute bugs would be worked out in time for the Saturday morning broadcast.
Channel 6's HD transition came as the station completed work on its tower designed to improve over-the-air reception.
"We have heard from many viewers who are further away or in a low lying area about an improved signal," says Steinmetz.
Channel 6 broadcasts two digital channels: 6.1 is the main feed and 6.2 carries Retro TV and its lineup of old shows.
Doing weather on TV and the Web: WISN-TV Channel 12 has hired Jeremy Nelson as a weekend weathercaster and Web reporter, with plans to blog about the weather at the station's Web site throughout the week.
He comes to the ABC station from KSHB-TV, the NBC station in Kansas City, Mo., where he did the weekend weather. His TV weather experience includes Madison's WMSN-TV, WLUC-TV in Marquette, Mich., and Weather Central Inc.
Nelson replaces Lance Hill, who is no longer with Channel 12.
Some cable numbers: Nielsen Media Research numbers show ESPN was the number one cable channel in prime time last month, averaging 3.3 million viewers. USA was second, with 3.2 million. Fox News Channel was third in prime time, with 2.2 million viewers. TNT was fourth, with 1.9 million viewers, TBS was fifth with 1.8 million.
Looking at the all-news outlets, Fox News Channel remains dominant. In the 7 p.m. hour, Bill O'Reilly averages 3.7 million viewers, 994,000 in the 25-54 demographic. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann had a bit more than 1 million overall, 291,000 in the 25-54 age group. CNN's Campbell Brown had 696,000 overall, 179,000 among viewers 25-54.
Overall, Fox News is up compared to November 2008, the other two are down.
A fresh "Saturday Night Live": NBC offers the first of three new December SNLs at 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 4. Blake Lively hosts and Rihanna sings.
Here's a preview of the wackiness to come:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.