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19 posts categorized "Television"

July 02, 2015

KTTC's Overlie signs up for 5 more years in Rochester

KTTC-TV's popular news anchor Tom Overlie will continue covering Rochester for at least another five years, after signing a new contract with the station.

Overlie, who has won six Emmy Awards for best newscast, has co-anchored KTTC's 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts. He announced his new five-year contract on Facebook this week. When asked why he has chosen to remain in Rochester, he responded that he thinks it is "one of the finest communities" that he's seen.

"I've traveled the world, and each time I come home to Rochester, I know this is the place I want to be," Overlie wrote in a message. "I'm fortunate to work with great people who are not only colleagues, but family."

8006876_GPrior to joining KTTC, Overlie worked for KMOT-TV in North Dakota for five years and three years at KEYC-TV in Mankato.

KTTC, which is owned by Quincy Newspapers in Quincy, Ill., is "thrilled" about Overlie remaining with the station, said Jerry Watson, KTTC general manager and Quincy regional vice president.

"Tom's special. Clearly to us, he's more than an anchor. He's really superb journalist who really understands his audience," he said. "To us, he's more than an anchor. He's one of the best ambassadors KTTC has had in years."

Overlie is not the only KTTC on-air talent that is committed to Rochester. Co-anchor Robin Wolfram recently signed a three-year contract extension with the TV station through 2017. Watson pointed out that KTTC's Sports Director Pat Lund is celebrating his 25th anniversary with the station this week.

"It's really fun to talk to Pat about local sports, because he knows the generations of athletes," said Watson. 

February 12, 2014

KTTC owner to add more stations

The owner of the Rochester's KTTC-TV station announced Tuesday that it's acquiring four more stations, including one in Duluth.

Ef06da64-f7c8-40c1-b090-c0d0cb609f18Quincy Newspapers Inc., which has owned KTTC since 1974, is buying KBJR-TV and its satellite, KRII-TV, in Duluth, Minn.; WEEK-TV in Peoria/Bloomington, Ill.; WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne, Ind. and WBNG-TV in Binghamton, N.Y. from New York City-based Granite Broadcasting Corp.

Financial terms of the purchase were not released.

The deal also includes Quincy providing operating services to four other stations in the same type of the relationship that KTTC has with Fox affiliate KXLT-TV in Rochester. Those stations include KDLH-TV in Duluth, WISE-TV in Fort Wayne as well as WHOI-TV and WAOE-TV in Peoria/Bloomington.

The sale will not be official until it's approved by the Federal Communications Commission. If approved, Quincy's portfolio will grow to 23 stations in 14 markets. QNI also owns and operates two radio stations plus a newspaper in Quincy, Ill., along with a newspaper in Newton, N.J.

6a00d83451cc8269e20120a6402558970c-250wiJerry Watson, KTTC's general manager and one of Quincy's two regional vice presidents, says the timing of the FCC decision is hard to anticipate, but it usually takes a few months. A lot of final details cannot be worked out until that approval. However, Watson says this is a positive step for Quincy and Rochester.

"The good news is that Quincy is one of the very few small broadcast groups who are looking to grow. Unlike the investment firms buying up stations, the Oakley family (who own Quincy Broadcasting) are truly owner-operators. That's why I've stayed with them for 25 years," he says. "Picking up new stations is fun and we get to ride in like white knights."

Quincy purchased stations in Wisconsin and Iowa in 2006 and 2009.

“We are thrilled to acquire these stations as well as the operating agreements for the others,” stated Ralph M. Oakley, president-CEO of Quincy, in an announcement Tuesday. “Our company is committed to the communities and regions it serves by providing the best in local news, community affairs and entertainment.”

New_Quincy_logoThese new stations will add more work for the already-busy Watson, who already is in charge of  six broadcast markets in four states. The plan is for him to take over the management of the Peoria/Bloomington market. He already is in charge of the Illinois stations in Quincy and Rockford. The other regional vice president will manage the other seven markets.

It's possible this acquisition also could add more duties in Rochester, if any of these stations are added to the broadcasting "hub" based at KTTC. Rochester already handles the master control broadcast services for Quincy's operations in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"As the hub, we're the center of the spokes of the wheel. We could easily take on more," said Watson. "We're in a good position here in Rochester."

September 05, 2012

Storm Chasers' Dominator blowing into Roch.

The Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" regularly drive their Dominator vehicle through crazy weather even wilder than Rochester saw last night.

Local fans will have a chance to check out the Dominator on Thursday (tomorrow) when Line-X of Rochester brings the tank-like vehicle to Rochester for an appearance. Line-X offers special spray-on protective coatings, primarily to protect truck beds.Dominator

Look for the Dominator to be parked on display in the parking lot of Andy's Liquor at 3125 Wellner Drive, near Whistle Binkie's North.

Local Line-X owner Chris Mertesdorf says the Dominator should be out there by 10 a.m. and should be out there until at least 4:30 p.m.

The Dominator is designed to plow through storms with winds up to 200 mph. The winds that hit Rochester last night topped out at just a little more than 70 mph.

The whole vehicle is covered with Line-X's XS-650 spray-on protective coating.

November 08, 2011

Ex-KTTC building going off the air

11082011kttcdemo1The former KTTC-TV building in downtown Rochester is going off the air today as demo crews level the long empty complex.

The building at 601 First Ave. S.W. is in the city's "urban village" district, part of the Downtown Master Plan, and is considered to be 11082011kttcdemo2part of a University of Minnesota Rochester campus eventually. It is owned by the city.

Fraser Construction is handling the dirty work after being awarded a $69,940 contract by the City of Rochester to demolish it.

Not included in the contract is the demolition of the antenna tower, which would have cost another $11,290. The city might rent space on the tower to cellular phone companies.

Thanks to the Rochester Design Advocacy Forum for the heads that this demolition had started.

October 31, 2011

Local man + shopping channel deal = 7,000 lbs of fudge

Here's an interesting treat from the crew at the eclectic  and slightly mysterious White Wolf Creek, the cafe/art gallery/fudge shop in the ex-Taco John's on the U.S. 52 North frontage road.

Holiday treats are already adding pounds for David Christenson.

Thankfully, it is the Rochester chocolate artist's workload that is rapidly growing, not his waistline.

Whitewolflogo-gifTo fill an order for an upcoming appearance on the omnipresent QVC shopping channel, he needs to make an avalanche of fudge — a whopping 7,000 pounds' worth — in the next few weeks.

Yes, 7,000 pounds. The calorie total must be mind-boggling and well beyond my limited math skills.

He, along with wife, Lisa Loucks Christenson, are slated to offer a truckload of 2-pound boxes of their White Wolf Creek fudge for sale in mid-November, probably on the show hosted by the popular David Venable.

The details are a bit of a moving target, but right now now they are scheduled to appear at 11 a.m. Nov. 13.

That means David has a lot of his special flavored fudge — peanut butter, red velvet cake, turtle and caramel apple pie — to cook up. Each box will include those four flavors.

Lisa, a wildlife photographer and artist, is helping, while keeping their eclectic bistro and art gallery running along U.S. 52 in northwest Rochester in a former Taco John's restaurant. They are still be serving quiche, wild game, vegetarian dishes, caramel apples, crepes and, of course, fudge. However, they might be not be open quite as many as hours as usual as the tower of QVC fudge is created.

So how does a Rochester chocolatier end up making a featured holiday item for the popular shopping channel?

Lisa says they submitted David's fudge for consideration about a year ago. Lots of steps were taken in between, including flying out to chat with QVC mavens. Now the Med City-made treat is going to seen worldwide.

"Obviously, it is a big thing for us. The best part is the exposure," she says. "And it is a good plug for Rochester."

October 07, 2011

Dancing With The Stars + Minnesota apples?

Cutting-board Two things I never expected to come appear together in a business item - Minnesota apples and the "Dancing With The Stars" TV show.

And yet they will come together on Oct. 16, when dancer Chelsie Hightower will make an appearance at the expo booth of an orchard that grows Minnesota's up and coming apple variety, SweeTango.

Get it? She's a dancer, right? And the tango is a dance, though in this case… uh… it really is an apple.

Chelsie_Hightower The SweeTango name for the University of Minnesota created apple variety came from Dennis Courtier, the president of Pepin Heights Orchards in Lake City.

Courtier also spearheaded the creation of the Next Big Thing cooperative of SweeTango growers that govern the growing and marketing of the apples, which are a cross between Honeycrisp and Zestar.

Now playing off that name, Hightower is slated to appear at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Atlanta later this month.

She'll be at the booth of Fowler Farms Of New York. Fowler is one of the 45 members of the Next Big Thing co-op.

I think there needs to be some sort of reality show competition to choose the best apple variety. It could be called "America's Next Top Apple."

Uh… or maybe not. Heh.

August 29, 2011

IBM's Watson and Jeopardy - the rerun

It seems unlikely that anyone in the Rochester area (who wanted to watch it) missed the TV showdown between Watson IBM's big brain computer and the top Jeopardy! quiz show contestants back in February.

Watson runs on Power 750 servers, which are manufactured as well as partially designed here.

However, if you did miss it or you just want to re-live the moment, "an encore presentation" (better known as a rerun) will air in mid-September.

Here are the details from a press release that rolled in today


IBM and America's Favorite Quiz show Jeopardy! today announced that Jeopardy! will broadcast an encore presentation of the first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition between IBM's "Watson" computing system and the show's two greatest contestants -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Ibm-watson-jeopardy Millions of North American viewers will be able to again witness TV history as Watson successfully competes against two human champions in two matches played over three consecutive days. The episodes will air on September 12, 13 and 14, 2011.

"With the Jeopardy! challenge, we accomplished what was thought to be impossible - building a computer system that operates in the near limitless, ambiguous and highly contextual realm of human language and knowledge," said Dr. David Ferrucci, IBM Fellow and scientist leading the IBM Research team that created Watson. "Watching the match again reminds us of the great power and potential behind Watson to be able to make sense of the massive amounts of data around us and to solve problems in new ways."

Six months after the original competition, Watson's Deep Question Answering (QA) technology has already driven progress in new fields such as the healthcare industry. IBM is working with Nuance Communications, Inc. to explore and develop applications to help critical decision makers, such as physicians and nurses, process large volumes of health information in order to deliver quicker and more accurate patient diagnoses. Working with universities and clients, IBM is identifying many potential uses for Watson's underlying QA technology.

February 28, 2011

KTTC / Fox news folks move on

It has been a quick three years.

KTTC Talent 2-5-08 In Feb. of 2008, I wrote about a bunch of a new fresh faces in front of the KTTC and Fox news cameras in Rochester.

And now at least two of those still fresh faces with more experience are moving on this week.

KTTC's Steph Anderson and Fox's Ali Lucia is packing it up and heading out of Rochester.

I believe today is the final one for both of them.

Congratulations on a job well done to both of you.

February 14, 2011

IBM's Smarter game show goes live today

Remember today at 4:30 p.m., Big Blue will take the national stage as it introduces its sci-fi smart Watson computer to the world as a contestant on the Jeopardy! quiz show.

In case you missed it Friday, here's some from my piece about this latest IBM computing milestone:

Whether IBM's new computer dubbed Watson wins or loses next week as it competes on the Jeopardy! quiz show, expect to see this "science fiction smart" milestone machine move beyond playing games.

Watson2 "In the future, Watson could easily become Dr. Watson and become an adviser to a doctor,"  says Ian Jarman, Power Systems software manager. "Because it is based on Rochester's Power 750, we can adapt and commercial that technology for other workloads. One first area like that is health care."

It won't replace human brains, but "it is much closer to emulating the human brain. This is really the first time we've come close to that," said Tim Alpers, Rochester's Power Product Manager.

Watson will take the stage with Alex Trebeck  to compete head-to-head for $1 million with the best contestants in show's 28 years on the air — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. They will compete live Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jeopardy Jennings and Rutter will face 10 refrigerator-sized racks filled with 90 Power 750 servers built in Rochester. Running on a Linux operating system, it can complete about 80 trillion computer operations per second.

Watson will not be connected to the Internet and it will need to decipher puns and plays on words that are often used in Jeopardy's questions and categories.

Unlike IBM's one-of-a-kind Deep Blue computer, which played chess against chess master Gary Karpov, this human-like system is based on standard and commercially available Power 750 servers, which are manufactured as well as partially designed here.

"Watson's secret sauce is DeepQA," said Jarman.

The IBM research team has spent four years developing DeepQA to understand the complexity of how people talk. That means figuring out sarcasm, jokes and other fluid turns of phrase that children can understand, but have traditionally bewildered computer's rigid programming.

"With DeepQA, we are creating a framework where the computer can essentially make up its own rules. It is an entirely different paradigm for a system to work in," said Henry Hocraffer, IBM's Power Software program director in Rochester. "We are on the cusp of entering an area that has always been science fiction."

November 10, 2010

New tenant on way for Roch's ex-Charter building

After providing in-home care therapy in the area for years, the Minnesota Autism Center is gearing up to open a large treatment facility in Rochester.

Construction started last week to transform the 16,000-square-foot former Charter Communications building at 3380 Northern Valley Place N.E. into an autism treatment center.

It is already accepting enrollment of students ranging in age from 2 to 21. The plan is to open the center on Jan. 31.

Ron Carey, chairman of the statewide nonprofit group, says this new facility is one way the autism center is trying to help children and their families deal with the "explosion" of autism cases.

"This is a good launching place for us outside of the Twin Cities," he says. "The goal is to have centers around the state."

The group already has centers in Minnetonka and Woodbury.

The Rochester center will feature classrooms, a cafeteria, a 3,000-foot gymnasium and a fenced-in, outdoor play area.

It is designed to accommodate more than 30 students

Instruction is offered one-on-one with an instructor for each child in their own individual classroom, explains Kathryn Marshall, Minnesota Autism Center executive director.

She expects the nonprofit's employee numbers to grow to more than 50 from the about 20 staff members who already provide in-home services throughout southeastern Minnesota.

In addition to providing clinical therapy and school preparation services, Carey, who has a child with autism, says the nonprofit also offers support for families trying to cope with autism.

"We're a full-featured service provider, ready to treat the whole family," he says. "Unfortunately, the demand just keeps growing for our services."

The building being changed into the Minnesota Autism Center has been empty since Charter Communications moved into its new complex on Superior Drive Northwest.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate and Ned Rukavina of Northmarq brokered the deal to bring the Minnesota Autism Center into the Rochester building.