In new series, Austin hosts check out haunted sites

'Strange Town' hosts Mark Morrow, left, and Billy Driver
‘Strange Town’ hosts Mark Morrow, left, and Billy Driver

Rather than checking out the same ol’ spooky movies for the umpteenth time this Halloween, head on over to one of KLRU’s digital subchannels to check out something new.

KLRU Q, Channel 18.3, will air three episodes of “Strange Town,” a locally produced show exploring haunted sites throughout Texas, this Friday starting at 8:55 p.m.

Austinites Billy Driver and Mark Morrow serve as hosts and producers of “Strange Town,” which got its start as a Web-based series. They’re hopeful the deal with KLRU could lead to the show airing on other PBS affiliates across Texas and possibly even nationwide.

“They’d been looking for a paranormal show for a long time but hadn’t had anyone bring one to the table,” Driver said. “We did and they’ve been so incredibly supportive.”

Driver said he grew up in what he believes was a haunted house, helping make him a self-proclaimed “paranormal enthusiast” at an early age.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal,” he said. “I saw, heard and experienced a lot of things as a young child. Nothing malicious, nothing bad, just things we couldn’t explain, like the lights flicking on and off. It was obvious someone was there with us.”

The three episodes of “Strange Town” that will air Friday focus on haunted spots in Galveston, Seguin and right here in Austin.

At the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Driver and Morrow work to verify claims that orphans killed in a hurricane are wandering the halls. There are also reports a woman in search of her lost lover roams the property.

In Seguin, the duo checks out the Magnolia Hotel, allegedly home to as many as 13 “unsettled spirits.”

And back here in Central Texas, they visit the Austin Pizza Garden, 6266 W. U.S. 290, and Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street, 809 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Both buildings have experienced plenty of unexplained, possibly paranormal activity.

“We’ve captured evidence in every location we’ve visited so far,” Driver said. “We’ve even been physically affected ourselves. Some of the presences are positive. Some are negative.”

Morrow, for example, walked away from one shoot with an unexplained scratch on his neck.

While we’ll get to see only three episodes for now, Driver and Morrow are still working on the series. They already have a few more installments in the can and are in the process of filming more that they hope we’ll get to watch soon. In December alone they aim to knock out three shoots.

“We’re getting buzz before we even hit the air,” Driver said. “We’ve got all sorts of offers coming in to check things out — not just from Texas, but from all over.”

But the Austin area might keep the two busy for quite a while. Driver said there are still plenty of spots here in town they’d like to examine. Downtown, in particular, is reportedly a hotbed of paranormal activity, he said.

Driver acknowledges, though, that some viewers might scoff at “Strange Town” and shows like it — and he’s all right with that. Really, he is.

“People are either really into it or they think it’s total bull,” Driver said. “But the truth is, science can’t explain any of this. Religion can’t explain it. No one can. We want them to watch and decide for themselves.”

‘Strange Town’

8:55 p.m. Friday

KLRU Q, Channel 18.3 (Time Warner Cable Channel 20)

The Daily Show in Austin, Day 3: ‘Don’t Ingress With Texas’

Jon Stewart’s guest tonight was Austinite Ellar Coltrane, the star of the Richard Linklater film, ‘Boyhood.’

But in the opening segment, “The Daily Show” cast had a lot of fun with Austin’s fear and loathing of the influx of new residents changing the city.

Al Madrigal skewers the Hispanic panic in Texas, and Stewart welcomes the Koch brothers to “The Daily Show’s” family of advertisers.

Watch the episode here:

Day 2 of Daily Show’s ‘South by South Mess: All-You-Can-Vote Midterm Buffet’

Jon Stewart opened Tuesday night’s “Daily Show” episode by sarcastically kvetching:”I am full — I may actually sleep tonight in a flour tortilla . . . I think that’s what they ask you at night, “Would you like to sleep in a flour tortilla or a corn tortilla.”

Stewart’s guest was San Antonio congressman and Democratic rising star Joaquin Castro, but the highlight of the episode came during the second block of the show with Jason Jones’ report on the biggest issue facing Texans, which resulted in “the world’s best country song” sung by Brad Paisley.

Just watch:

This blog post was updated to correct that Joaquin Castro is a member of Congress and not the former San Antonio mayor, which would be his twin brother, Julian.

‘Daily Show’ arrives in Austin with plenty of ebola jokes

"The Daily Show" in Austin
“Daily Show” host Jon Stewart interviews gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis on Monday at Zach Theatre as part of a week of shows taped in Austin. Photo by Ralph Barrera / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” landed in Austin on Monday and it was a raucous, high-energy affair. You can read our story about the first episode taping, featuring guest Wendy Davis, in this MyStatesman story. (No subscription required.)

Here’s an excerpt:

The show began with a well-received takeoff of the “Dallas” opening credits, with correspondents from the show and Stewart mixed in with locals including actor Elijah Wood, the Old 97’s, Robert Rodriguez, Shooter Jennings and Aaron Franklin. It ended with Stewart downing a large can of chili in a state where “a guitar can marry cowboy boots.”

It moved on to two segments about Ebola panic in Texas and New York City, with “Daily Show” correspondents Samantha Bee, Jessica Williams, Aasif Mandvi and Jordan Klepper green-screened into locations such as Dallas, Times Square and the front of an Austin Java location before all four joined together to eat meat off a “traditional barbecue lei.”

You can also find a photo gallery right here.


KVUE hires new weekend morning meteorologist

Jared Plushnick (photo courtesy of KAGS)
Jared Plushnick (photo courtesy of KAGS)

The KVUE weather team is once again fully staffed.

The station has hired Jared Plushnick to handle weekend morning weathercasts, according to executive news director Frank Volpicella.

He replaces Ilona McCauley, who signed off in late August.

Plushnick didn’t have to travel very far for his new gig. He arrives in Austin after three years as chief meteorologist at KAGS, the NBC affiliate in College Station.

Both KAGS and KVUE are owned by Gannett.

This summer, KVUE hired Lynae Miyer as its weekend evening meteorologist. She took the place of Andrew Chung, who has been helping fill in the gaps while the station worked to get fully staffed again.

Also worth noting: Mark Murray, KVUE’s chief meteorologist, marked 24 years at the station this week. Congrats, Mark!

NewsRadio KLBJ plans 2 light rail debates

The folks at NewsRadio KLBJ want to help you get ready for Election Day.

The station will host a pair of debates on Austin’s $1 billion light rail proposal – one at 9 a.m. Monday, the other at 2 p.m. Nov. 3.

Want to take part? Register at

The news/talk station airs on 590 AM and 99.7 FM.

Early voting is under way now and continues through Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 4.

Newcomer joins KVUE’s morning newscasts

Cori Coffin (photo courtesy of KVUE)

Early risers have likely noticed a new face on KVUE’s top-rated “Daybreak” and “Midday” newscasts.

Recent arrival Cori Coffin has been anchoring the ABC affiliate’s 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. news broadcasts on a temporary basis alongside Bryan Mays and meteorologist Albert Ramon.

Coffin comes to Austin after spending the past three years at KREX in Grand Junction, Colo., where she also handled morning and midday anchor duties.

At KVUE, Coffin is currently filling in for anchor Yvonne Nava, who is on maternity leave after giving birth to her second son, Bodhi, late last month.

When Nava returns after the holidays, executive news director Frank Volpicella said Coffin will take over as anchor of KVUE’s 4:30 a.m. newscast, a spot vacated by Jessica Vess, who left recently to take a public relations job at Austin Community College.

Weekend morning anchor Jade Mingus has been handling 4:30 a.m. duties on an interim basis, Volpicella said, with former KVUE anchor/reporter Amy Johnston-Harper filling in for Mingus on Saturday and Sunday mornings on a freelance basis.

Wendy Davis among guests booked for Austin ‘Daily Show’ broadcasts

Wendy Davis (Ralph Barrera photo)
Wendy Davis (Ralph Barrera photo)

We’re getting our first look at who’s booked on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” during its stop in Austin next week – and it’s exactly who you’d expect.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis is set to promote her new book, “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” on Monday’s show.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents portions of the San Antonio area, will stop by Tuesday.

No word yet who’ll join host Jon Stewart Wednesday, but Austin band Spoon is confirmed for Thursday, the show’s final day on the road.

Tapings will take place at the Zach Scott Theatre, with Stewart and his team of correspondents “delving into the rich mine that is Texas politics” throughout the week for the special “Democalypse 2014: South by South Mess” broadcasts.

“The Daily Show” airs at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central.

Betty White is still alive

Contrary to what you might’ve seen one Austin TV station Tweet earlier today, I’m happy to announce that “Golden Girls” star Betty White is, in fact, still alive.

No word yet on what prompted the station to send out the errant Tweet, which has since been deleted.

A Tweet from KEYE erroneously claimed that Betty White had died.
A Tweet from KEYE erroneously claimed that Betty White had died.


X-rated photos tweeted from Time Warner Cable News account

The Time Warner Cable News Twitter account appears to have been hacked this afternoon.

A Tweet sent at 5:19 p.m. said, “TRAFFIC: Your 5:12 p.m. update. Too many!” It also included four racy photos featuring four different men who were completely nude.

The post stayed up about 10 minutes before it was deleted.

A subsequent Tweet, sent at 5:21 p.m., said, “My Twitter account has been hacked.”

Reactions from @TWCNewsAustin followers were mixed. Several found the apparent hack humorous, while others expressed concern that the X-rated photos were allowed to remain up for an extended period of time.

We’ve asked a Time Warner Cable spokesperson for an explanation of what exactly happened. When we get that information, we’ll update this post.

The incident comes just a day after a Memphis TV station included a link to a porn site in a weather update posted to Twitter. A spokeswoman for WREG-TV told the incident was under investigation and that the CBS affiliate planned to tighten security.