Houston Rockets games now available in 40 Central Texas ZIP codes

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (Rich Pedroncelli photo / Associated Press)
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (Rich Pedroncelli photo / Associated Press)

Houston Rockets fans in about 40 Central Texas ZIP codes will finally be able to watch their favorite team this season.

Root Sports Southwest, which carries most Rockets games, said it has reached a deal with the NBA that will allow the games to be beamed into about 200,000 more homes in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Previously, the games had been blacked out in those households because the NBA considered them to be part of a different team’s “protected territory.”

In Central Texas, for example, the 40 ZIP codes were linked to the San Antonio Spurs previously, giving that team exclusive local broadcast rights.

The 40 ZIP codes are primarily north and east of Austin. Most Austin residents, unfortunately, will still lack access.

The ZIP codes include all or part of the cities of Bastrop, Florence, Georgetown, Granger, Jarrell, Manor, Round Rock, Schwertner, Taylor and Thrall, as well as some homes near Lakeline Mall and in the Wells Branch area.

The ZIP codes are: 76527, 76530, 76537, 76573, 76574, 76578, 76820, 76831, 76842, 76856, 76869, 76885, 78602, 78605, 78607, 78608, 78609, 78611, 78615, 78621, 78626, 78627, 78628, 78633, 78634, 78641, 78642, 78643, 78646, 78650, 78653, 78659, 78660, 78664, 78665, 78672, 78673, 78674, 78680, 78681, 78682, 78683, 78691, 78717 and 78728.

KVUE hires new meteorologist

Nathan Gogo (Twitter photo)
Nathan Gogo (Twitter photo)

KVUE’s weather team is back at full staff with the addition of a new meteorologist.

Nathan Gogo – yes, that’s his real name – has joined the station and will handle weekend morning weather duties, executive news director Frank Volpicella said.

Jared Plushnick, who had been working that shift, moves to weekend evenings, replacing meteorologist Lynae Miyer, who signed off earlier this year, telling viewers she was getting out of the TV news business.

An Iowa State University graduate, Gogo arrives in Austin after spending the past year and a half at KWTX, the CBS affiliate in Waco. Prior to that, he worked for a station in Hastings, Neb.

“Nathan has experience forecasting the weather in Central Texas,” Volpicella said. “We are pleased that he has joined our team of highly trained meteorologists who are trusted in providing timely weather information for our viewers and readers on air, online and on our digital platforms.”

KUTX radio host in the hospital, temporarily off air

Paul Ray (Marsha Miller photo/University of Texas)
Paul Ray (Marsha Miller photo/University of Texas)

Longtime Austin radio host Paul Ray is temporarily off the air, but hopes to be back soon.

“Paul is in the hospital,” Diana, the host’s wife, said, “but he’s smiling, his sense of humor is intact, and his radio voice is back.”

Ray, host of “Twine Time” on 98.9 KUTX-FM, has been on and off the air in recent months as he deals with various health issues.

Rick McNulty has been filling in.

“Twine Time,” which airs from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, has been on Austin’s airwaves since the 1970s, the station said.

Familiar face is new KXAN noon anchor

Kate Weidaw (KXAN photo)
Kate Weidaw (KXAN photo)

Kate Weidaw has been promoted to noon news anchor at KXAN.

In her new role, Weidaw continues to serve as senior reporter for “KXAN News Today,” as well. The city’s top-ranked morning newscast runs from 4:30 to 7 a.m. on KXAN, then continues from 7 to 9 a.m. on sister station KNVA.

Weidaw, who first joined the station in 2004, spent the past six months filling in as co-anchor of “KXAN News Today” alongside Sally Hernandez after the departure of Brian Sanders.

Sanders’ permanent replacement, John Dabkovich, started this week.

Fox 7 anchor back on air after donating kidney to her mom

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

Fox 7 anchor Rebecca Thomas returns to the air Wednesday night, just a couple weeks after she donated a kidney to her mother.

Initially, Thomas will only work part-time, anchoring the station’s 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

She’ll return to full-time status on Dec. 21, a Fox 7 spokesperson said, reappearing on the station’s 5 p.m. broadcast.

Thomas flew to California last month so doctors could remove one of her kidneys to give to her mother, who was on dialysis.

The surgery went well for both mom and daughter, according to Thomas’ posts on social media.

Austin native among this season’s ‘Bachelor’ contestants

Olivia Caridi
Olivia Caridi (ABC photo)

This season’s “Bachelor” hopefuls have been revealed — and the list includes an Austin native.

Olivia Caridi, 23, is one of the 28 women hoping to win the heart of bachelor Ben Higgins on the hit ABC show.

She most recently worked as a newscaster at WCYB-TV in Bristol, Va., and is a 2014 graduate of Texas Christian University, according to her station bio.

Caridi is one of the favorites to go the distance this season, according to many “Bachelor” fan sites.

Here’s some of what host Chris Harrison told Yahoo about Caridi: “Obviously pretty. Pleasant smile. One of the things Ben worries about is if she is sincere, because she has a career in television. And he wonders, like everyone does, if she is there for the right reasons — or is she here for publicity?”

Other Texans on the show this season include a Dallas real estate developer, a math teacher from Houston and a Weatherford cowgirl.

“The Bachelor” debuts Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on KVUE.

Last-minute deal keeps KVUE on AT&T U-verse, DirecTV lineups

CVVX4GcUkAAen2mA last-minute deal has kept Austin ABC affiliate KVUE from going dark on the AT&T U-verse and DirecTV lineups.

Terms of the multi-year agreement, which covers 46 stations nationwide owned by McLean, Va.-based Tegna Inc., were not disclosed.

In a message to viewers last week, KVUE indicated retransmission fees were the sticking point. Federal law requires cable and satellite providers to compensate the local broadcasters whose signals they carry. Typically, that works out to a monthly per-subscriber fee.

Aside from Austin, other Texas cities where Tegna owns TV stations include Abilene, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco.

KXAN hires new morning news anchor

John Dabkovich (KXAN photo)
John Dabkovich (KXAN photo)

KXAN’s months-long search for a new morning news co-anchor has come to an end.

John Dabkovich, who most recently worked at the Fox station in Las Vegas, will sit alongside Sally Hernandez, the station announced today.

He replaces Brian Sanders, who left in May and now works at the NBC affiliate in Tulsa, Okla.

“I could not be more excited to come to KXAN because it has simply the best news team in one of the fastest-growing, most vibrant cities in the country,” Dabkovich said.

At KXAN, Dabkovich joins a morning team that ranked a strong No. 1 in the recently completed November “sweeps” period.

KVUE could disappear from AT&T U-Verse, DirecTV lineups

Update: The deadline has been extended 24 hours, until 11 p.m. Friday.

Earlier: Austin ABC affiliate KVUE could go dark tonight for AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers.

The station’s contract with the two providers, who united earlier this year, expires at 11 p.m. and, so far, a new deal hasn’t been reached.

The dustup is the latest in a long list this year involving just about every major Austin TV station.

Several other Tegna-owned stations across the country could vanish from the AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV lineups this evening, including ones in Dallas, Denver, Houston, New Orleans and Seattle.

Retransmission fees – money cable and satellite providers are required to pay local broadcasters in order to carry their signals – appear to be the sticking point, according to a post on KVUE’s website.

“So far DirecTV has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us – even though the terms being offered are fundamentally the same as those that just allowed us to reach a deal with Dish,” the site claims. “Unfortunately, in its recent merger with AT&T, DirecTV promised its Wall Street investors to cut $2 billion from its investment in programming like ours. It is our sincere hope that DirecTV puts its customers ahead of Wall Street.”

Longtime Time Warner Cable News anchor departs this week

Paul Brown (Time Warner Cable News photo)
Paul Brown (Time Warner Cable News photo)

One of the best-known anchors on Austin’s Time Warner Cable News is heading for the exit door.

After 12 years with the cable news outlet, “Capital Tonight” host Paul Brown will sign off for good this Friday.

Brown’s not going far, though. He plans to work on his doctorate degree at the University of Texas, as well as continuing to teach at Austin Community College, where he’ll now have the flexibility to lead even more classes.

“I’ve been involved in journalism for exactly 30 years,” Brown said. “I’m not getting any younger, so now’s the time to buckle down and take on the challenge of trying to obtain my Ph.D. This is a wonderful chance to do something new at this stage in life, while sticking with my love of journalism and teaching. I’ve always felt a big part of my role wherever I have been has been mentoring and teaching younger reporters. So, in reality, not much is really changing for me in terms of what I love to do.”

This spring, Brown said he’ll focus on completing his dissertation, which “considers the role the moderators of televised political debates play in the election process.”

“My research looks back at the 2012 campaign season, but is certainly timely with what’s going on today,” he said.

Leaving a job he loves is hard, Brown admits, but he said he’s certain it’s the right decision.

“Working here has been like being a kid in a candy store,” Brown said. “While I’ve been the political anchor of ‘Capital Tonight’ full-time the past three years, most of my time here was spent as the midday anchor. I’ve had the opportunity to cover breaking news, national political conventions, host debates, interview experts on a variety of topics and do it all in an environment dedicated to fair, balanced reporting. What else could a journalist want? I can’t thank my bosses enough for giving me this opportunity.

“I think I’ll miss what anyone would miss when they leave a place that’s been a big part of their life – the day-to-day moments with my friends at work. I’ll also miss my off-camera moments with the lawmakers, political experts and fellow Capitol press corps journalists I’ve interviewed over the years. I’ve sincerely enjoyed spending time and sharing stories with all of them. Maybe those moments should have been what was televised.”

He’ll also miss the viewers but, again, he’s not leaving Austin, so you’ll still probably bump into him around town.

“Perhaps the most gratifying moments for me over the years have been running into people who have watched my work, and stopped to thank me for it,” he said. “It’s been a great way to find out about another person I probably would have never met otherwise. They usually have a much more interesting story to share than I do, and as a journalist, I eat that up. Everyone has been so kind to me. Please know how much I’ve appreciated that. I’m just a messenger, but I hope the way I’ve provided those messages helped people in some way. That’s why I’m a journalist.”

After Brown departs, Karina Kling, another Time Warner Cable News veteran, will take over as host of “Capital Tonight,” a spokesperson said.