WTAP - Blogs - Roger Sheppard Editorial

Antennas Direct Visit a Hit!

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Another DTV Test Coming up on Jan. 12 during WTAP News at Six

Monday, January 5’s visit to the Mid-Ohio Valley by Richard Schneider, president of the St. Louis-based Antennas Direct, brought out literally HUNDREDS of people, interested in learning more about how to pick up WTAP’s digital stations, free, over-the-air. He set up his recreational vehicle in the parking lot at Big Sandy Superstores on Garfield Avenue, and had an almost endless stream of interested persons show up.

Lots of these folks have picked up WTAP’s “old” analog signal (UHF channel 15) for years. Some have been trying to pick up our digital stations but running into problems.  Some of them have just decided to stop subscribing to cable and are now seriously looking at antennas.

No matter what their situation, Schneider had some information and (for many) a free antenna that folks could take home and try out.

We have less than two months until the digital transition on February 17, 2009.  Folks who rely on free, over-the-air signals must TAKE ACTION or they won’t get their local or even regional stations after that date.

Those folks must either:  buy a new digital TV; get a digital-to-analog set-top box to turn our digital signals into something their “old” TV can see; or they must sign up for cable. Cable operators are already taking care of this “digital conversion,” installing equipment to pick up the digital signals and turn them into analog signals for your “current” TV to see.

But some folks live in areas where over-the-air signals are difficult to pick up. Some of them have had no problem picking up WTAP (analog) but are having trouble picking up WTAP (digital). Sometimes, it’s because they expect their indoor rabbit ears to do the job, and in many cases, they just don’t work with digital. Other times, the person will have an old outdoor antenna that is damaged or has bad wiring that prevents the digital signal from getting through. Other times the person will have an outdoor antenna that can’t rotate, so it can’t point in the direction of the source of the digital signals. That might have been OK for picking up the much-more-forgiving analog signals. But digital signals are more finicky.  Folks with outdoor antennas may have to install “rotors,” to allow them to turn the antennas from inside their homes so that they can program their TV sets with the antenna pointed in the right direction, and then move the antenna back to that designated spot to pick up the signal afterwards.

Sometimes, the person has done everything right, but he or she will have a bad connector or the wrong kind of “splitter” to distribute the signal to multiple TV sets, and the splitter stops the digital signal dead in its tracks.  Other times, folks will buy a converter box only to find that it’s DEFECTIVE!

What I’m trying to say is: there are a lot of variables in determining who CAN and who CANNOT pick up digital signals.  Due to the fact that WTAP is not available on satellite, we have taken a great interest in the fact that lots of people still rely on antennas to pick up our stations. We don’t want ANYONE to miss out on important weather information, local news or their favorite shows come Feb. 18.

For those of you who have cable and have NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT in this transition, we apologize for hammering away so hard on this. But lots of folks who live in more rural areas and who cannot get on cable, need to know they must ACT to avoid any interruption of service.

And we will be doing another test of the DTV system during our 6pm news on Monday, January 12.  For the first time, we hope that all of the Time Warner Cable customers will “pass our test,” since Time Warner has recently completed its own transition to digital.

Thanks to Big Sandy Superstores for helping us host this Antennas Direct event. And thanks to all of those who came out to learn more about the brave new world of digital TV!

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