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Evansville

Anchor Brad Byrd Says WEHT-WTVW Merger Has Been ‘Painful For Some’

Beginning today, WEHT and WTVW officially operate as a duopoly under a shared services agreement in Evansville, as Nexstar Broadcasting completes its acquisition of WEHT from Gilmore Broadcasting.

Longtime WEHT anchor Brad Byrd, who will remain with the station under the new management, took a moment on last night’s evening newscast to address the changes that will take place starting today.

“This process has been painful for some,” Byrd said, referring to the layoffs resulting from the merger. “But I can say to those leaving this building on Merrywood Drive, you’re going to be alright, because you’re dedicated and you’re good people.”

Watch video of Byrd’s sign-off commentary — which includes dramatic use of studio lighting — inside. Read more

Changes Afoot in Evansville, As WEHT and WTVW Merge Operations

In the aftermath of Nexstar’s acquisition of WEHT, big changes are coming to the Evansville ABC-affiliate.

Earlier this month came the announcement that a significant number of staffers — from production staff to on-air talent to station management — would be let go. As the station merges operations with independent WTVW, the newscasts will get a new look, and new talent, when the revamped programming debuts next Thursday.

The Evansville Courier-Press reports that WTVW evening anchors Randy Moore and Julie Dolan (pictured) will move to mornings on WEHT, and the pair will be joined by meteorologist Ron Rhodes. Read more

Nexstar Cuts Several Jobs At Evansville’s WEHT

Nexstar Broadcasting has fired several people from WEHT, the ABC-affiliate in Evansville, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

Nexstar agreed to acquire WEHT in August. The employees have been notified that their positions will be terminated when Nexstar officially takes the reins from Gilmore Broadcasting, which is expected at the end of the month.

The Courier & Press reports general manager Doug Padgett, general sales manager Mike Riley and news director Mark Glover are among those who will no longer be employed at WEHT. Reporter and weekend sports anchor Sean Clark-Weiss, morning co-anchor Whitney Ray, reporter Nick LaGrange and sports director Mark McVicar have also been informed they will be let go, as well as “several” producers, directors and editors.

Video: Man Nearly Saws His Face Off During WTVW Reporter’s Stand-Up

“A man standing behind me has a dangerously close call with a chainsaw during my storm coverage story in Southern Illinois,” WTVW reporter Drew Gardner explains on YouTube, describing the above video.

Gardner was covering a storm that left many trees uprooted when a stump removal worker tripped and nearly fell into his chainsaw. [h/t Gawker]

WEHT and WTVW Reportedly Merging Operations

Nexstar Broadcasting is reportedly set to merge the news operations of two stations in the Evansville market.

According to the Evansville Courier & Press, the company plans to combine the news departments of WEHT–the ABC-affiliate that it just purchased–and WTVW–the former Fox-affiliate that Nexstar is unloading on Mission Broadcasting, a station group that serves as a sort of holding company for Nexstar-operated stations.

Sources tell the Courier & Press that WTVW’s operations, currently located in downtown Evansville, will move to the studios of WEHT, located in Henderson, KY. Perry Sook, Nexstar’s president and CEO, and Timothy Busch, the company’s co-COO, were reportedly in Henderson on Wednesday speaking with WEHT staff. Read more

Nexstar Agrees to Acquire WEHT, Swapping Fox for ABC in Evansville

Nexstar Broadcasting has announced  an agreement to buy WEHT, the Evansville, IN ABC affiliate, from Gilmore Broadcasting for $18.5 million.

Nexstar will finance the purchase by divesting assets of WTVW — the Nexstar-owned independent station in Evansville — to Mission Broadcasting, which is a company set up by Nexstar to operate duopolies in 13 other markets. This transaction will provide a local services agreement between Mission and Nexstar, allowing WTVW and WEHT to share services in Evansville.

The two agreements are a result of WTVW losing its Fox affiliation last month after a long battle with Nexstar over retransmission fees. Evansville is one of four markets — including Terre Haute and Fort Wayne, IN, and Springfield, MO — where Nexstar and Fox have parted ways.

The purchase of WEHT is pending FCC approval and is expected to close by the end of 2011.

WFIE: Police Arrest President Obama in Meth Bust

NBC-affiliate WFIE reported on a major meth bust in Owensboro, KY this week in which police arrested three suspects, including President Obama… (video above).

WTVW Goes Independent After Losing Fox Affiliation

Evansville’s WTVW will become independent when its affiliation with Fox expires next month, station owner Nexstar announced today.

Fox announced in May that it would give its Evansville affiliation to WEVV when the WTVW agreement expires July 1. WTVW will dramatically increase its news coverage in the effort to re-brand itself as Local 7, expanding both weekend and morning newscasts.

“Local 7 will build upon its highly successful news product as we are immediately increasing the amount of local news content and are developing other exclusive, locally originated programming,” station vice president and general manager Michael Smith said in a statement.

KTRV, another Fox affiliate, will also opt for independence when its Fox affiliation expires this fall.

KNIN, WEVV Becoming Fox Affiliates

Fox is welcoming two new affiliates: Journal Broadcast Group’s KNIN in Boise and Communications Corporation of America’s WEVV in Evansville, IN.

Currently a CW-affiliate, KNIN will transfer to Fox once its CW agreement expires this summer, replacing KTRV as the market’s Fox-affiliate.

WEVV, which was a Fox-affiliate in the late 80s and 90s, is currently a CBS-affiliate and has been airing MyNetworkTV programming on a digital subchannel. Beginning in July, WEVV’s .2 channel will be a Fox-MyNetworkTV hybrid.

The new affiliation agreements come at a time when the relationship between Fox and its affiliates is especially tense. In an effort to capitalize on the carriage deals that stations have struck with cable and satellite operators, Fox has recently drawn a hard line on what it expects its affiliates to pay per subscriber. Read more

WFIE Set to Become First Evansville Station to Broadcast News in HD

NBC-affiliate WFIE is reportedly set to become the first station in the Evansville market to broadcast its newscasts in HD.

“The debut date is not yet official, but we will immediately begin the process of transitioning, which will include a new HD news set and a new control room,” WFIE’s news director, C.J. Hoyt, told the Evansville Courier & Press. “We had previously begun the process when we upgraded to our new HD-ready weather graphics and HD-ready news graphics last October.”

WFIE’s transition represents a second wave of HD adoption by local stations¬† in smaller markets. Evansville is market #102, serving the area of Southwestern Indiana, Southeastern Illinois, and Northwestern Kentucky.

In the last month, Amarillo’s KFDA (#131) announced that it would become the first station in West Texas to broadcast local news in HD and WNEP in Scranton-Wilkes Barre (#54) unveiled a new studio in preparation for its HD launch.

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