JakesDTVBlog.com – Interview with Webmaster Jacob Newkirk

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I’m pleased to announce an exclusive interview with Jake Newkirk of JakesDTVBlog.com. Jake’s in-depth coverage of the digital transition and over-the-air broadcasters in Kentucky and surrounding areas has been second to none. Before we begin, I’d like to thank Jake for taking the time to answer these questions.

Firstly, Jake, can you tell us a little about yourself and your website?

I’ve always been interested in television. Fascinated would probably be a better word. When I was a kid, TV was just amazing. I’d ask, “How does this stuff work?” And, while I drifted into a different kind of media when I got older — I was a newspaper reporter for a couple of small newspapers — and tried several other lines of work, TV was always my hobby, along with computers.

My website, JakesDTVBlog.com or JDTVB for short — which started out, as you can find if you look back through the “archives” there, pretty primitively — was basically just to chronicle my own experiences with DTV. It then just sort of “blossomed” into covering the Evansville, Bowling Green, Louisville and Nashville markets by accident, really. I’d e-mail a station and, lo and behold, they’d answer my questions, and I’d think, “Man, this should be a blog entry!” And so it went.

Now, of course, I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from and get a lot of great info from a number of websites. Trip’s RabbitEars.info is at the top of that list. If you want all the info on the technical side of a station, you absolutely have to start there.

What got you interested in digital television?

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but when I was in high school, I saw a TV show that demonstrated what HDTV was all about. I thought, “Well, this is really something.” But it wasn’t until about five years ago that I actually bought a digital TV. It was one of those monstrous Sanyo 32″ sets from Wal-Mart that gave everyone such trouble. I think I paid about $750 for it, and as folks found out what junk it was, it dropped in price and they eventually quit selling them all together. Mine didn’t last long, but anyway, once I saw what DTV was all about and what our local stations offered with it, I was hooked.

With the digital transition come and gone, what are your future plans for JDTVB?

In all honesty, I don’t think the transition is really over yet. As we’ve seen, so many stations that went to VHF have had nothing but trouble, so there will be a lot to deal with from that perspective. Plus, there are a lot of new sub-channel networks now out there and more coming, so I’ll try keep up with those and whatever else goes on with the stations JDTVB covers. I’ve heard from a good number of readers who like to know when people at the stations come and go, so that is going to be a big part of things. I’m sure there will be plenty to keep me busy!

And, of course, I’ve got two great guys helping me out — NashDigie keeps me up on the latest Nashville-area happenings, and Stuart Peck, a reporter who just left WFIE in Evansville to work for the hospital where I live (Owensboro Medical Health System) wants to stay in the game, so to speak, so he’s going to pitch in as well, mainly covering Louisville and Bowling Green, areas that he’s familiar with. JDTVB would be pretty boring if I didn’t have good help!

Congrats on your weekly TV column with the Evansville Courier and Press. Can you tell us a little more about it.

Basically, my column is going to be an integral part of JDTVB — maybe an extension of JDTVB would be a better way of putting it. Some folks don’t have internet access, so the column will be their way to follow the biggest news of the week in Evansville-area TV. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far, so I must be doing something right. Well, at least I hope I am!

Back to over-the-air talk. In your opinion, how have Kentucky broadcasters handled the digital transition?

I think everyone had their rough moments, some perhaps more than others, especially where they moved from UHF to VHF, but I believe for the most part that they all did a good job. Again, some are still working the bugs out, but overall, I’m impressed.

I would like to give kudos to the folks at KET. They had so many transmitters to upgrade, plus they did a major upgrade of their facilities in Lexington. As we all know, public television stations have to scrape and beg for every penny they get, so to be able to coordinate everything the way they did was nothing short of amazing, at least from my perspective.

How’s the JDTVB Mobile Command Center coming along?

I haven’t really done anything with Mobile Command yet, because we’ve all been fighting sickness for what seems like the whole month of September, but I’m hoping to use it on our summer travels to give my readers a look at what different stations around the country offer their viewers. We’re avid travelers, so once the kids are out of school next May, I want to hit the road and stay out as much as possible. I am able to connect a telephone and cable to Mobile Command, and many campgrounds across the country have free Wi-Fi these days, so I’ll be able to stay in touch just about everywhere we go.

Jake, thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions for our members and guests here at DTV USA Forum. In addition to JakesDTVBlog.com and and his column in the Evansville Courier Press, Jake also has a hobby license plate collecting website at Jacob’s License Plate Blog

9 Comments
  1. Piggie says

    Jake, what was the general reaction of stations having their emails posted? I email a lot of stations and generally keep things that sound private under my hat.

    —-

    What the Mobile Command Center needs is a foldaway, collapsible tower that goes up about 30 to 35 ft. Then make a rack on top to hold a big antenna that has quick clamps so the entire procedure is about 10 minutes to get on the air with a big antenna up 30 some feet.

  2. JakesDTVBlog says

    Nine times out of ten, I ask before I post something. it was a habit I got into early on; since I was a newspaper reporter years ago, it’s something I picked up from that.

    Now that I’m pretty well established, the station folks tend to say, “Here’s something for your blog,” when they e-mail me. So I guess it’s gone over pretty well.

    I like — REALLY like — the idea of a tower for JDTVB-MC, but as I’m no longer up to climbing ladders (due to a spinal disorder, I’m blessed to still be able to walk short distances), that’s not going to happen right now. If I could somehow rig it up where it would be motorized, that could work.

    1. Piggie says

      Nine times out of ten, I ask before I post something. it was a habit I got into early on; since I was a newspaper reporter years ago, it’s something I picked up from that.

      Now that I’m pretty well established, the station folks tend to say, “Here’s something for your blog,” when they e-mail me. So I guess it’s gone over pretty well.

      I like — REALLY like — the idea of a tower for JDTVB-MC, but as I’m no longer up to climbing ladders (due to a spinal disorder, I’m blessed to still be able to walk short distances), that’s not going to happen right now. If I could somehow rig it up where it would be motorized, that could work.

      I pretty much received the answer about the emails I expected, but thought it was a good question to resolve if others decided to do similar without discretion.

      The idea about the tower was to motorize it. They make towers that collapse down with a motor, then lean over. That stuff is off the shelf. But they are designed to cement in the ground. One for a motor home would have to modified to fold over the top or something like that. It’s possible. If you knew a welder, a good welder it could be built. You might need some small collapsible antenna, as non of the consumer commercial ones are really meant to open and close.

      Maybe just dreaming, but hey……… :@)

      1. JakesDTVBlog says

        I should mention, Piggie, that MC’s existing Winegard batwing antenna is up at about 13′ when extended. And it picks up very well in all directions, certainly better than what’s in my attic, although I have no complaints about the work of my own hands. About the only improvement I’m really itching to try with it at present would be the Wingman attachment. Again, something I want to buy …:duh:

        On the e-mails: ALWAYS ask before you post something, unless you are 100% sure it’s OK to do so. If you look at JDTVB and go back to the posts dealing with WFIE’s new “14Xtra” subchannel, I had much of that information a few weeks before I posted any real details, and was asked to hold off until closer to the debut. I complied with that request, although I was told it would be OK to “tease” with some innocuous little details leading up to it.

  3. Thomas G says

    Thanks for the interview. Jake, how did you get the Evansville Courier column?

    1. JakesDTVBlog says

      Thanks for the interview. Jake, how did you get the Evansville Courier column?

      HTNut: One of the editors at the C&P has been a reader of my blog for a while, and he came up with the idea. I wasn’t sure if people would want to read my thoughts and what’s going on in local TV, but based on the volume of responses I’ve had so far, it’s gone over very well indeed.

      The pay isn’t great, but I’m helping people. That makes it worth it.

      EV: I’m actually planning to buy one, but I have been holding off to see if we move within the next 2-3 months, as that is a possibility. I’d hate to put one up and then have to take it down and put it up somewhere else. As I told Piggie in an earlier post, I’m not much good at climbing ladders these days, so I try to avoid it whenever possible. That said, you can count on a full-on test and report at JDTVB when I do get one!

  4. EscapeVelocity says

    Welcome to the forum Jake.

    Would you like a Tune a Tenna to test for your blog? It might work good in your area looking at the TVFool for Owensboro.

  5. EscapeVelocity says

    Hey, thats great! I have plenty available, when you decide to take the plunge.

    1. JakesDTVBlog says

      Hey, thats great! I have plenty available, when you decide to take the plunge.

      I appreciate it, EV. I’ll let you know what I find out when I find out. If we don’t get into a different place by Christmas, I imagine we’ll be here for a while, because I do NOT like to move in the dead of winter. I’ve done it. NOT doin’ it again!

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