Area stations unveil weather channel ideas

Friday, November 18, 2005

One local television station is launching a 24-hour, all local weather channel and another has already done it, with executives from both stations saying they will bring up-to-the-minute local forecasts and updates to an increasingly information-hungry public.

KFVS12, the local CBS affiliate based in Cape Girardeau, is working out a deal with AccuWeather, a private forecaster that provides software, said KFVS news director Mark Little. But the content would be all local, with weather graphics, radar and customized forecasts with a mix of weather casts with KFVS personalities like Bob Reeves and Brian Alworth, he said.

"Weather is such a driver," Little said. "People want to know about the weather and get information about the weather whenever they need it."

Meanwhile, WPSD-TV of Paducah, Ky., launched its own weather channel several weeks ago, although it is only available locally with the help of a digital tuner that receives the signal over the air. That will probably be the case for KFVS initially, too, though both KFVS and WPSD both hope to have agreements with Charter Communications to have the stations broadcasts for digital cable subscribers.

WPSD's weather channel is available on channel 6.3 with the help of digital tuners, which are available at electronics stores, said co-manager Bill Evans. WPSD's weather channel is already available to Paducah-area viewers on digital cable systems there, but they're still ironing out agreements in the Cape Girardeau market.

The channel there has been received well, he said. The channel offers seven-day forecasts and current temperatures from around the region, along with a window for local radar as well, said WPSD's programming director, Dwayne Stice. Stice said the station has reached an agreement "in principle" with Charter to have it available for cable customers. He hopes it will be available by the first of the year.

Stice said local weather channels are becoming more prominent, noting that stations in Evansville, Ind., and Louisville, Ky., have also recently launched such stations.

He said it's all due to the success of the Weather Channel.

"The Weather Channel has been a successful phenomenon," he said. "We just want to do what we do best and make it more local."

Little said that, assuming everything works out, the KFVS weather channel will also be all local. Using what's called an "L-bar" format, weather graphics and information will run along the left side and the bottom of the screen.

The remaining space in the center of the screen, called the "video box," will feature customized weather forecasts, Doppler radar images, satellite imagery and possibly Tower Cam images -- live video that KFVS takes from atop the KFVS12 building in downtown Cape Girardeau.

KFVS general manager Mike Smythe said they hope that it's available in some form by Dec. 1.

WSIL-TV, the ABC affiliate based in Carterville, Ill., -- which also is available locally -- says it's on the horizon for that station, too.

"We're likely to do something," said general manager Steve Wheeler. "We have the technology now, but we're looking for something good to do with it. It will happen and probably sooner rather than later."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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