The Switch Goes Off Without A Hitch

June 12th, 2009 at 11:24 am by under Inside WOOD TV8, News

digital-switchWe just witnessed broadcast television history.  Our station, the first to go on the air in West Michigan, just marked another milestone.  In 1949, when we started broadcasting, it was with the analog signal.  Today, we just shut off that signal and from now on, we will broadcast in digital only.  From our end, at our transmitters, the switch went off without a hitch. 

In the photo to the left, I’m interviewing our Chief Engineer, Mike Laemers moments after the switch. See the screen by me…it’s snowy.  That’s what tv sets look like if owners did not take the steps to go digital.  The screen by Mike shows the digital signal.

Ten years ago, we became the first television station in the market to start broadcasting in High Definition.  We’ve been putting out a digital signal for a decade.  Now that is the only signal high-powered television stations in this country can broadcast in, so mandated by federal law.  The old analog channels don’t die.  They’re going to be auctioned off and will wind up being used by emergency personnel and phone/cell/internet coompanies.  The feds will glean a good deal of money from the sale, money obviously this nation can use.

I just ran up to the engineering office at WOOD-TV-8.  The phones are ringing off the wall.  As soon as staff answers questions about why viewers aren’t seeing a picture on their screen, the next call comes in.

We have a toll-free number (1-877-FYI ASK8) and viewers are leaving  messages with questions.  We have engineers retrieving those messages and calling back to problem-solve.

I overheard our Chief Engineer, Mike Laemers, talk a viewer through the transition from analog to digital.  When the viewer pulled in our signal and saw something on the screen, Laemers commented, “Isn’t that great?  Isn’t it wonderful, digital?”  The viewer responded that the channel was going to stay right on WOOD-TV- 8 through the Red Wings Game tonight and wouldn’t let anybody change it.  That game begins at 8pm, by the way.  We’ll all be watching too, and we’ll undoubtedly have a late 11pm newscast.

For the Red Wings game, our crews will be Live on the ice recording all the action.  My co-anchor Brian Sterling will be there as well as one of our sports anchors, Larry Figurski.  That will be great to see… tune in for 24-Hour News 8 at 5 and 6 and 10 and then stay with the game through the end.  At 11ish, 11:30ish, we’ll have great highlights, interviews, hoopla, reaction.  Here’s to a RED WINGS WIN.  STANLEY CUP, HERE THEY COME.  And now, everyone will be able to watch it in DIGITAL T.V.  ENJOY!

18 Responses to “The Switch Goes Off Without A Hitch”

  1. Matt says:

    The digital feed looks good, but I’m not getting any Surround Sound. It wasn’t there during Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals either. I checked both my Comcast feed and the over-the-air feed and I’m not getting Surround Sound on either one. Is anyone else having this problem?

    1. Thad says:

      I have been complaining to Charter Communications about the LOUSY sound when WOOD-TV 8 broadcasts the Stanley Cup games (4) and (5).

      All I hear is the on-ice noise of puck and stick contact. The commentator audio is non-existent. Does not matter if viewing the broadcast in HD or normal mode.

      This does NOT happen when VERSUS broadcasts the Stanly Cup games.

      I’ve left a voice-mail message with the WOOD-TV8 chief engineer—the call was never returned.

    2. Manny says:

      No signal at my cottage near Big Rapids. TV-13 comes in great. Ehat’s up 8?

    3. Manny says:

      No signal at my cottage near Big Rapids. TV-13 comes in great. What’s up 8?

  2. Ken says:

    At 10 am I lost your signal, even though I get all the other stations. I live on a hill near Rockford, and usually get good reception. Yes I have a converter box, which says BAD SIGNAL. Too bad I won’t be able to watch WOOD any more…

  3. Ken says:

    The phone number listed above “1-877-FYI-ASK (smiley face)” does not have enough digits, and there is no smiley face on my phone, thankfully. What’s with that?

    1. JIm says:

      It says 1-877-FYI-ASK8 No smily face!

  4. kathy says:

    Yah Right! Now we can’t get any channel but 13. I guess you don’t want the viewers in the country that don’t have access to cable to view your programming. Have a great time viewing yourself because we can’t.

  5. Chris says:

    Kathy, you don’t need cable/satellite to receive digital signals – just a digital TV (all TV’s made in the past couple of years are digital) or a converter box. 13 will be shutting off their analog signal sometime today as well.

  6. John says:

    I have bought two converters and only get 3 channels on one and 0 on the other sucks I cant watch news 8 anymore

  7. weather watcher says:

    I have cable (finally) and can’t get woodtv8 or my local CBS..is this typical for the rural area cable companies right now?

  8. Gerry says:

    Hi,
    After purchasing a new digital television in March I received very good reception on 8,13,17,9,3,etc.,now I get 13 and some other odd channels like 35 and 41 . What happened? This is a huge disappointment to me.Digital seems to be worthless.I live in the north west corner of Montcalm county and I do have an antennae on my roof.
    Thank you
    I hope you can help.Since I can’t watch channel 8-1 could you email me with any suggestions you have?

  9. brian says:

    FYI, channel 8 is actually on digital channel 7 and wwmt out of Battle Creek will now broadcast on digital channel 8. Those experiencing reception problems might want to use the scan feature on their HDTV or converter box to try and detect the channels. Also, http://www.antennaweb.org can be helpful to learn what channels you might expect to receive, simply take the – find an antenna link and type in your zip code.

    Additionally, having experimented with 2 different converter boxes, an Apex and an Insignia, and comparing with my HDTV sets, the receivers in the converter boxes are inferior to both my HDTV sets. Go Wings!

  10. brian says:

    Below is a link to the FCC’s reception maps for Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. The maps show the reception area for the TV stations in the area. You can reference the maps to see if you are inside, or outside of the broadcast area.

    http://www.fcc.gov/dtv/markets/maps_report1/Grand_Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle_Creek_MI.pdf

  11. grasshopper says:

    switching over to digital TV is like pulling off a band-aid… just do it and get it over with

  12. Joan says:

    we have no signal at times for tv 8. what is our problem. also some of the screen is showing only partial picture and is not filling our tv screen. we purchased our tv in April of 2009. we thought when the change over happened that would change, but has not.

  13. Brian says:

    I have bought an HD Converter Box I get about 16 channels. I live in Jenison. For whatever reason WMMT and WOOD TV 8 only comes in late at night. What is the possible reason for this?

  14. Mike Laemers says:

    Most people who are not reeceiving channels 3,8,13 or 35 are probab;y using an indoor antenna. You may pick up UHF stations like 17 and 41 with an indoor antenna, but to get all of the VHF stations, you will in all likelyhood require a VHF/UHF rooftop antenna.

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