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Low-Power WKRP Back On Air

Courtesy Block Broadcasting
Low-power WKRP-TV has been off the air since Thursday, Oct. 17.

5:40 p.m. Friday Oct. 25 update:  Low-power WKRP-TV (Channels 20 and 25) returned to the airwaves at 5:30 p.m. Friday for the first time in more than a week.

The 10 WKRP multiplex channels went dark Thursday, Oct. 17,  for the digital channel "repack" (TV frequency changes) on Oct. 18.

"We are back on, up to full power," says owner Elliott Block.  The station is using a three-inch transmission line to the antenna on WCPO-TV's Walnut Hills tower. A crew will return Monday to finish installing a four-inch transmission line, hopefully by Wednesday, he says.

"No work will be done on the tower this weekend due to incoming weather," he says.

Viewers who watch over-the-air television must rescan their tuners to get WKRP's programming.

Original post 4:15 p.m. Friday, October 25: Low-power WKRP (Channels 20 and 25) - off the air for more than a week due to the digital channel "repack" - should resume broadcasting Friday night, says owner Elliott Block.

The 10 WKRP multiplex channels – including Get TV, This TV, Cozi, Decades and Quest – have been off the air since Thursday, Oct. 17, a day before Cincinnati TV stations switched to new digital frequencies.

Credit WVXU photo
WKRP's Channels 20 and 25 broadcast from WCPO-TV's Walnut Hills tower, along with WVXU-FM and WUBE-FM.

Before that, WKRP's stations were dark in the afternoon Oct. 15-17, as WLWT-TV tested its new digital signal on WKRP's old frequency (digital Channel 20).

Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky viewers who watch TV by antenna were instructed to rescan their tuners at 10 a.m. last Friday, to capture the new digital frequencies. WKRP missed that deadline. Then it got worse. When WKRP's new antenna was not installed by Sunday, Block fired the crew.

"Basically, they did nothing," he said.

A new tower crew arrived Wednesday and began mounting the antenna on WCPO-TV's Walnut Hills tower. A three-inch temporary line was installed by Thursday afternoon; a four-inch line will be in place by Wednesday, before dark today, Block said.

All of WKRP's networks – except the two home shopping channels – should be on the air by 7 p.m. Friday, he said.

Viewers who watch over-the-air television must rescan their tuners tonight to get WKRP's programming.

The Federal Communications Commission in 2017 ordered TV stations to be squeezed into digital Channels 2-36 from the current digital Channels 2-55. The freed-up "broadcast spectrum" space was then auctioned to cell phone and other wireless companies, so they have more capacity.

All Cincinnati area stations except WKRC-TV (Channel 12) changed to new digital channels Oct. 18, as part of the FCC's "repack."

Viewers don't notice a difference after rescanning their tuners, since they still see their old analog channels (5, 9, 12, 14, 19, 48), just like after stations switched from analog to digital broadcasting in 2009.

TV viewers with cable or satellite service don't need to rescan. Their TV providers made the necessary changes on their end.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.