Hello everyone, this is Operations Manager Kenn Baynard here to give you an update on our status. I wanted to take a few minutes to explain to you exactly what we’re doing here and why, in hopes you will have a better understanding as to why we did what we did, when we did it.
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has called and emailed us. Most have been very supportive and understanding, and we really do appreciate it. This has been a very difficult transition for us, and we’re making progress everyday working the kinks out of the new system.
As you all know, the last couple of weeks has been crazy for us, and frustrating for you. Not only have we successfully relocated our station from our former home in the Marquette Mall to a new home in Ishpeming, but we’ve also been working very hard to get our digital broadcasting equipment up and running. Our move to a permanent home in Ishpeming is a big step to solidifying our future. We own this building, and plan to be here for a very long time. I’ve moved this station twice, and I hope to never have to do it again! With this building, we finally have room to expand. Space was always an issue at our last two homes, as we always seemed to outgrow them within a couple years of being there. Thankfully, it appears we won’t have that problem here for a very long time.
Unlike our first move from Calumet to Marquette in 2001, this move presented a whole new set of challenges we didn’t face back then. When we moved in ’01, everything was still analog, and we knew how it all worked and was able to install everything rather quickly to get us on the air from Marquette without going off the air. Unfortunately, this time around we did have to go off the air for a few days on channel 10. Channel 5 in the Keweenaw (channel 2 on cable) was able to stay on the whole time because the equipment for CW is isolated from the main system, and we had a backup unit that we were able to install in Ishpeming without taking it off the air. Not only were we installing a lot of new digital equipment for the DTV transition, but we also had to move our existing equipment and get the new and old equipment to play nice with each other. To further complicate things, on June 2nd ABC switched from their standard definition delivery system to their new full high definition system. If we had stayed in Marquette with the equipment we had there, we would have been unable to provide ABC programming to the Upper Peninsula, as our ABC equipment does not offer us the luxury of a down-converted signal. We chose not to install the new digital equipment in our Marquette facilities last year because we had been working very hard on getting our new home ready to move in to, and we decided to move the station and do our digital transition at the same time. So the move to Ishpeming was timed with ABC’s transition to full HD. This is one of the reasons we went off the air for the move. As of June 2nd we were unable to air ABC’s programming, which makes up a considerable portion of our daily programming line-up. Thankfully we were able to tear down the old studio and move it to Ishpeming and get it back on the air within a few days. Our target day to go back on the air was Thursday, June 4th, and we made it on by Friday, June 5th.
The week following the move presented a whole new set of challenges. Not only are we working very hard to get everything in good working order at our new home, but we also had to complete our DTV transition, which everyone knows happened this past Friday, June 12th. The transition involves turning off our analog transmitters and turning on our digital transmitters. Sounds like an easy task, but I assure you it’s not.
Some of us, myself included, have been working 12-13 hour days every day for the past two weeks with very little time off fixing problems and making sure everything is in good working order. We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still a lot to do, and there’s only so many hours in a day.
We hoped to have our news back on the air within a couple of days of going on the air from Ishpeming. I assure all of you that we are working diligently to get the news back on the air as quickly as we can.
We could have taken a much cheaper and easier route when it came time to transition to DTV. We could have simply installed some basic digital equipment in our Marquette or Ishpeming studios, and at our transmitters, and been done with it. However that method was not acceptable to us. Had we chosen that plan, then we would not be able to provide ABC programming in High Definition. With the route we took, not only can we provide ABC in HD for our viewers, but it also helps future-proof our systems and allows us to add more HD equipment in the future. Assuring that as time goes on we can start phasing out the older analog equipment and replace it with full HD equipment. This has been our plan for a long time, and I’m happy to see it finally take shape. When we’ve completed the transition, we will be providing ABC programming in HD over the air to our viewers in the central U.P. On channel 10, and in the Western U.P. On channel 5, as well as CW programming for both channels.
Thank you for your time, patience, and understanding.