Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And I missed my chance to see this station

It's not often that a full-power, network-affiliated TV station signs off the air for good. So when I learned (via Web chatter) that KSNB-TV in Superior, Nebraska went dark the first of this month I figured I needed to do some digging.

Sure enough, it's off the air and not just for some temporary, equipment-related deal. No sir. Off the air for good.

What happened?

In short, the transition to digital killed this beast. For decades this station operated over-the-air on VHF channel 4. In the olden analog television world this channel assignment was coveted, offering a signal that could travel quite a distance. Transmitting out over the rolling prairie of southern Nebraska and northern Kansas this meant great coverage. KSNB was originally an ABC affiliate then switched to Fox in the 1990's. Fast-forward to the near-present and KSNB was part of a two-station setup providing Fox programming to the area (the other was KTVG in Grand Island).

Evidently business deals expiring and the lack of any perceived need to keep a digital TV station on low-band VHF in a sparsely populated area contributed to the decision to permanently cease operations on channel 4. Both the Wikipedia article and this piece from the Superior newspaper give sufficient explanation. (Beware--the Superior "newspaper" site smacks of 1995.)

And for the title of today's entry? I had a chance to see this signal back in May when I went on a roundabout road trip with my trusty MacBook. On US 36 near Montrose I parked, powered up, set up the antenna, but did not get KSNB's signal. Why not?

Bad information.

Using TV Fool I checked to see which location would give me the best shot at a viewable picture. However the TV Fool site already had KSNB as broadcasting their digital signal on channel 4, presumably having already done the analog shut-off. Try as I might, I just couldn't get the channel 4 digital signal.

A few days later I learned that in fact, KSNB hadn't yet switched off analog. But due to my impatience and the info I had at the time, I didn't bother letting the Eye TV scan the whole channel spectrum for a signal. I just kept trying with the lower channels and eventually gave up.

Had I switched over and done an analog channel scan, I certainly would have seen them.

But, to use the cliche, that's all water under the bridge. The station is gone.

I doubt anyone will pony up funding and buy the license in an effort to get this signal back on the air. However should that happen it won't be a Fox affiliate. It may end up as an infomercial-heavy channel or a bad-preacher station. Either way it won't be anywhere near its former glory.

Just another chapter in Nebraska TV history. Actually, once you get out of the Omaha market, Nebraska television is about as odd as it gets. I'll soon post an entry with the reasons why.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snow-filled Sunday

It’s becoming a holiday tradition, I believe.

Drove to Kearney yesterday (yes, a Sunday). Don’t any of you start the backsliding talk--I went to early service and enjoyed the traditional Christmas carols accompanied by nothing more than a piano. After church I topped off the tank then hit the road.

My purpose was twofold: Buy a Christmas tree and finish out some holiday shopping. Yes, you read that right. Finish out. Between my cybershopping and Geogal’s talent for picking out the child’s big gift some time ago I was down to just a few items, mainly for the stockings. Today is December 7 and I cannot recall when I’ve ever been this ahead of the Christmas shopping game this early. I’m enjoying it.

I learned my lesson last year--don’t wait too long to buy the Christmas tree. First I visited a few retailers, stopped at Qdoba for lunch, then picked out a nice-looking spruce. The nice folks at Earl May loaded it into the back of my trusty Toyota and I struck out for home.

Normally the drive from Kearney back home is about as routine as they get. Yesterday though, the weather pundits predicted one to two inches of the white stuff for the area.


Flakes falling, I headed down the highway, thankful I was with the wind (my payback for being against it all the way to). No real accumulation on the road for which I was thankful. Driving through the occasional town I noticed more conglomeration on the road itself (no wind to blow it away). As I got closer to my own burg the snowpack got more pronounced. FInally the last 30 miles I was using the four-wheel drive for the most part.

One to two inches? Try five.

And we’ve got more expected for tonight. Little Geoana is already banking on tomorrow being a snow day.

What is the tradition I referred to in the opening sentence? Driving to Kearney in less-than-ideal conditions. Remember this?