Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21 SEP 11: Call the Bouncers
Yes, I know what the big local news story was Tuesday. But no, I'm still not planning to make any jokes about it here - because people on both sides probably are ready to set up a picket line outside my door.

Instead, I've noticed something else on Columbus TV in the last 48 hours. If you've been counting the days until the big change at WTVM's digital channel 9.2, you may have miscounted. It's already happened. The 24-hour updates on the forecast are gone. And "Weather Now" now is officially Weather Then.

WTVM has replaced Weather Now with messages promoting the new "Bounce TV," which officially debuts next Monday. Shame on those of you who thought Bounce TV referred to the N.B.A. Network....

Bounce TV has Georgia roots, as the network's founders include former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III. But it's not clear to me why it's called Bounce. Does it have less static cling than other channels?

The founders of Bounce TV admit their aim is to provide African-American programs -- and that apparently concerns some local viewers. I've read online grumbling suggesting such a channel will divide Columbus. Why, of course -- no African-American leaders will want to watch the 6:00 p.m. news when "Soul Train" is on against it.

The critics may be wondering why WTVM General Manager and "One Columbus" advocate Lee Brantley would add Bounce TV. But maybe he felt compelled to add an African-American network - especially since Queen Latifah and Montel Williams stopped doing their talk shows years ago.

But I think Lee Brantley was compelled to add Bounce TV for another reason - corporate bosses requiring it. Raycom Media made a commitment months ago to put the network on many of its digital TV channels across the country. And I assume the check written in Montgomery didn't bounce at all....

The critics of Bounce TV have a valid point, when it comes to ethnic division in the media. We've noted here before how the Columbus radio dial (and it's not merely Columbus) reflects a great deal of segregation by music format. Yet I haven't heard anyone demand Davis Broadcasting play an hour of polka music every week on WFXE "Foxie 105."

("What about Hispanics?" one online comment asked. Drive to Atlanta or Orlando, and you'll find they already have Hispanic TV channels. But WHAL-AM never gained any numbers in the Columbus radio ratings with "Viva 1460" -- leaving El Vaquero as the place with the best salsa in town.)

But a close look at the Bounce TV lineup reveals not every program will be primarily African-American. Take the Saturday morning children's shows. I watched "Real Life 101" on WXTX years ago, and its team of hosts had ethnic diversity. People who want Fat Albert marathons will have to track down a DVD boxed set.

My biggest puzzle in WTVM's decision is that "Weather Now" was dropped to add Bounce TV. The Raycom station in Savannah is putting Bounce TV on a third digital channel, at 11.3. Couldn't WTVM add a third channel, to keep weather updates on the air - and give equal opportunity to computer-generated voices reading the forecast?

That's enough bouncing for today. Let's now rock, skate and roll through some headlines you may have missed from the last couple of days:
+ The East Wing entrance to the Government Center reopened, after being closed for two months. The closure was designed to save money and improve security, but Sheriff John Darr says some disabled people were hindered from getting license plates. Let's hope no one shows up there with a set of fully-loaded crutches.

+ Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson took her "Let's Talk" forum series to an American Legion post on Cusseta Road. The mayor told reporters the first forum on Forrest Road led to improvements in the Carver Park area. For instance, Sunday National Football League games started at a perfect time....

+ The Muscogee County School Board voted to install security cameras in the hallways of 17 schools. The hallways?! Aren't teachers more likely to proposition students inside their classrooms?

+ Fort Benning's public affairs office announced Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will visit post and lecture soldiers Thursday. A news release spelled Krzyzewski's name correctly, but declared him coach of "the current college basketball national champions." Will someone please inform this office there WERE games after the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament?

(Krzyzewski once coached at Army, where his players included current Fort Benning Commanding General Robert Brown. That must be where Brown learned skills in the high post.)

+ Instant Message to St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church on Macon Road: Ooh boy -- your Sunday sermon title is "Shake Off the Snakes"?! Do I have to give up Columbus Cottonmouths hockey, too?

TEN YEARS' LAUGHTER/21 SEP 01: President Bush went to Capitol Hill Thursday night to prepare the U.S. for the fight against terrorism. He put the situation in absolute terms: "Freedom and fear are at war." We've felt that same sort of emotional battle in recent years -- owing the Internal Revenue Service at tax time.

President Bush kept things basic at times in his speech. For instance, he said: "Americans are asking: Who attacked our country?" If they're still asking after all the U.S. government statements and news reports, they must be conspiracy buffs.

President Bush assured the U.S., "This will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty." Of course, many moms and dads already have passed the age of terror - when their children were two years old.

For a change, the opposite party did NOT offer a reply to the President's speech. Instead, Congressional leaders from BOTH parties joined to declare their unity with Mr. Bush. Isn't it nice to see Republicans and Democrats as united on-camera, as they are after hours at the bar?

An amazing thing happened in Philadelphia when President Bush's speech began. A preseason hockey game was underway - and the fans demanded the third period WAIT until the President finished speaking! They probably wanted to hear the first bombs had dropped. You KNOW how much hockey fans love a good fight....

The President's speech lasted more than 30 minutes - and when it ended, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers players shook hands and left the ice. The teams never played the third period! Mr. Bush had better not give any speeches on Sunday - or the Super Bowl might not be played until May.

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