Fox 7 anchor donating kidney to her mother

Rebecca Thomas (Fox 7 photo)
Rebecca Thomas (Fox 7 photo)

This holiday season, Rebecca Thomas is giving the gift of life.

Thomas, who co-anchors the 5 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts on Fox-owned KTBC-TV alongside Mike Warren, will donate one of her kidneys to her mother later this month.

“It was a huge decision but, really, it was a no-brainer for me,” Thomas said. “My mom is so deserving of this. I’m so happy I can give her a good quality of life.”

Thomas’ mother suffered from Lupus, an autoimmune disease, earlier in life that left her kidneys badly scarred, among other medical issues. Over time, her kidney function has steadily decreased, hovering today at around 15 percent.

Earlier this year, Thomas said her mom was forced to begin dialysis treatments three hours a day, three times a week as her kidneys continued to degrade.

It was then that Thomas said she started seriously looking into getting her mom a kidney transplant. She was shocked to find the wait is typically somewhere between five and seven years.

That’s when Thomas, the oldest of three children, decided to get tested.

“I just knew I’d be a match,” she said. “And, after they put me through a battery of tests, we found out I was.”

The surgery will take place next week in California. Thomas said she’ll be off the air for about two and a half weeks, followed by two weeks of working part time, only anchoring the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts. By the first of the year, she should be back to her regular schedule.

Thomas said her remaining kidney will grow to make up for the one set to go to her mother, meaning she’ll be able to live a normal life after healing from the surgery.

“I’m scared. There are nerves, for sure,” she said. “But I’ll be just fine.”

With barely two months on the job at Fox 7, Thomas, who arrived here after spending a decade in Phoenix, admits the timing isn’t ideal. But her family comes first, and she said her bosses are A-OK with that.

“Everyone at Fox has been awesome,” Thomas said. “They’ve been so supportive.”

That support extends on air, where Thomas is getting time during the station’s newscasts to report on her procedure in hopes of convincing more potential donors to get tested.

“We need to get more people registered,” she said. “Many people have died waiting. If you’re healthy, you only need one kidney. We all have a spare.”

For more details on organ donation, visit donatelifetexas.org.

Austin viewers get 2 new over-the-air TV networks

Programming on Laff includes 'The Drew Carey Show.'
Programming on Laff includes ‘The Drew Carey Show.’

Two more over-the-air TV channels are on their way to Central Texas.

Media General, owner of CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO, has signed deals to carry the Grit and Laff networks.

Grit, which targets a primarily male audience with shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger” and Western flicks, will pop up soon on KNVA’s 54.2 digital subchannel.

The network is about a year old and has a companion female-focused network, Escape, that can be found on Univision-owned KAKW’s 62.4 digital subchannel.

Laff will air on KBVO’s 14.2 digital subchannel. The network, which launched seven months ago, primarily runs reruns of sitcoms such as “Empty Nest,” “Ellen,” “Spin City,” “Grace Under Fire,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “The Drew Carey Show.”

A Media General representative said Monday that Grit and Laff should make their debut here sometime in late December.

“The addition of these powerful stations … widens our already robust and expansive market coverage for our young networks,” said Jeffrey Wolf, chief distribution officer for Katz Broadcasting, the company behind Escape, Grit and Laff.

Monday’s announcement comes just about a week after Austin NBC affiliate KXAN, another Media General station, added the ION network to one of its digital subchannels.

Host Kevin Connor takes on bigger role at Sun Radio

Kevin Connor (Sun Radio photo)
Kevin Connor (Sun Radio photo)

Well-known Austin broadcaster Kevin Connor is the new program director at Sun Radio.

In his new role, he’ll help shape the station behind the scenes, in addition to being heard on air weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. alongside morning host Bo Chase and solo from 9 to 11 a.m.

Connor is also on the air Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I am both thrilled and humbled by this opportunity,” Connor said. “I came over to Sun Radio as a weekend DJ last year because I enjoyed listening to the station so much. To become a fulltime member of the team is a dream come true.”

Earlier in his career, Connor spent time at several Austin radio stations, including 93.3 KGSR-FM. He’s also worked for ME Television, as well as South by Southwest, where he helped develop SXSWfm, an online radio station.

“As Sun Radio continues to grow, thanks in part to our listeners, members and underwriters, so did our need for a full time program director,” said Denver O’Neal, Sun Radio’s director of operations. “Kevin Connor is a staple of the Austin airwaves and has helped promote the sound of our town for over 34 years. He lives and breathes this music, the artists respect him a great deal, and so do we. I couldn’t think of anyone better to help Sun Radio continue to grow and sustain Austin and Americana music on our solar-powered airwaves than Kevin Connor.”

Sun Radio broadcasts on several frequencies in the Austin area, including 100.1 FM. The station also streams at sunradio.com.

New broadcast TV network hits Austin’s airwaves

Find ION on channel 36.3. (Twitter image)
Find ION on channel 36.3. (Twitter image)

ION, a national TV network, now has a home in Austin.

Local NBC affiliate KXAN has picked up ION, placing it on digital subchannel 36.3.

The network primarily airs reruns of popular primetime shows, such as “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Blue Bloods,” “Numb3rs” and “Criminal Minds.”

It also has original programming, including the hospital drama “Saving Hope.”

KXAN is one of several stations across the country owned by Media General that have picked up ION in recent days.

“We are excited to be able to provide over-the-air viewers in Austin with high quality entertainment programming offered by ION,” said Eric Lassberg, president and general manager of KXAN and sister stations KNVA and KBVO.

ION is the second digital network KXAN has added this year. Previously, it put Cozi, which runs retro TV shows, on its 36.2 subchannel.

 

ABC Family announces its ‘25 Days of Christmas’ lineup

"The Polar Express," quite possibly the creepiest Christmas movie ever made, features prominently in ABC Family's holiday lineup.
“The Polar Express,” quite possibly the creepiest Christmas movie ever made, features prominently in ABC Family’s holiday lineup.

Are you ready to get Grinchy wid it?

Hot on the heels of its “13 Nights of Halloween,” ABC Family has revealed its line-up for its annual “25 Days of Christmas” programming to Entertainment Weekly.

As always, my proposed “Day and a Half of Thanksgiving” gets ignored.

Highlights of this year’s televised presents include a dozen airings of the modern Will Ferrell classic, “Elf“; four showings of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the animated one, not the Jim Carrey clunker); and a “Toy Story” marathon on Dec. 13 featuring all three of the series’ motion pictures and the televised “Toy Story That Time Forgot” (yes, we know they’re not Christmas movies. Shh …).

Check out the full lineup here.