Disputes with Dish, DirecTV could knock 4 Austin stations off the air

kxanDisputes between broadcasters and satellite TV providers could knock as many as four Austin TV stations off some channel lineups this week.

DirecTV has yet to reach a new agreement to carry dozens of stations nationwide operated by Media General, including Austin NBC affiliate KXAN, CW affiliate KNVA and MyNetworkTV affiliate KBVO.

The current deal expires at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Dish Network is in a similar standoff with Tegna, owner of Austin ABC affiliate KVUE.

The deadline for them to work things out is 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The sticking point in both the DirecTV and Dish Network negotiations is money, based upon public statements made by those involved. Cable and satellite TV providers are required by federal law to compensate broadcasters for carrying their signals.

Just last month, a similar dustup knocked Austin CBS affiliate KEYE and its Telemundo subchannel off the Dish Network lineup for about 24 hours.

‘ATX Uncensored(ish)’ debuts Monday night on KNVA

Brian Gaar (Annie Ray photo)
Brian Gaar (Annie Ray photo)

It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen on Austin TV – and that’s the point.

“ATX Uncensored(ish)” debuts Monday at 9:45 p.m. on CW affiliate KNVA, giving Central Texans a satirical look at the news of the day.

The 15-minute show, which follows the station’s long-standing 9 p.m. newscast, is hosted by comedian Brian Gaar and features contributions from correspondents Joe Barlow and Kath Barbadoro.

“Working on a comedy show has always been a dream of mine,” said Gaar, a former American-Statesman reporter. “It’s been really fun, but a ton of work. Scary and exciting all at once.”

Think of “ATX Uncensored(ish)” as a local version of “The Daily Show” with elements of “Tosh.0” mixed in, KNVA says.

“This is a passion project for all of us,” said Larissa Cartwright, the show’s producer. “We are working our butts off to give the city of Austin a television show that actually reflects our town and the crazy, weird and wonderful people who live in it. We hope viewers support it and love it as much as we do.”

A typical episode will include Gaar — Barbadoro describes him as a “super-funny, ego-less manchild” — delivering a monologue, a roundtable featuring pop-ins from a variety of guests and taped pieces from Barlow and Barbadoro.

“It’s going to be really fast-paced,” Gaar said. “The local news is a great lead-in. Hopefully people will tune in and laugh. It’s a nice end to the day.”

Like Gaar, Barbadoro is well known in Austin’s growing comedy scene. With all the comics out there, she says “ATX Uncensored(ish)” has a never-ending supply of guests to keep things fresh.

“There’s a really deep pool here,” she said. “This city is ripe for something like this. We’re making a show we would want to watch.”

Barlow arrives in Austin after a stint in local news in Illinois – somewhere he admits he didn’t quite fit. Austin – and “ATX Uncensored(ish)” – are more his speed.

“We’re reimagining a comedy show,” Barlow said. “It’s such a unique thing for a local TV market to be doing something like this. With such active comedy and music scenes, Austin is the perfect market to be trying something like this.”

‘ATX Uncensored(ish)’

9:45 p.m. weeknights, KNVA Channel 54

Midnight Saturday, KXAN Channel 36

On the Web: atxuncensoredish.com

TV newscaster Tom Abrahams pens another political thriller

Tom Abrahams
Tom Abrahams

TV-newscaster-turned-author Tom Abrahams has a new novel available online and on store shelves.

“Allegiance Burned” is the latest release from Abrahams, who works for ABC-owned KTRK-TV in Houston. A follow-up to his last book, Austin-set “Allegiance,” it’s being distributed by publishing giant Simon and Schuster.

Here’s some of what to expect if you pick up a copy of the political thriller: “Guns. An heiress. Nuclear fission. Jackson Quick just couldn’t stay away. A scientist is murdered a mile beneath the earth, his secret laboratory exposed. A formula capable of shifting power among the world’s largest nations is missing and its rightful owner wants it back. After staying hidden for months, Quick is pulled back into the darkness he despises. Forced to face his demons and align himself with the very people who betrayed him, he agrees to hunt for the formula. Racing against time and an evil black-market czar, Quick crosses the globe in search of a mathematical equation so valuable that nations and terrorists will pay whatever the cost to control it. From the scientist’s lab in South Dakota, to London, Chernobyl, Ukraine, and Heidelberg, Germany, Quick uses his guile and good luck to outwit the competition at every turn. Or so he thinks. In the end, is his freedom worth the price he’ll pay to earn it? Or is he better off letting the formula fall where it may.”

Abrahams’ latest deal with Post Hill Press is for three books, and he says he’s already made significant progress on his next two novels, which are both due out next year — despite spending recent weeks crisscrossing the country covering the 2016 presidential race.

“If I’d written a novel about the 2016 race so far, nobody would think it believable,” Abrahams said.

Austin radio host Kristen Kurtis lands Philly gig

Kristen Kurtis
Kristen Kurtis

Austin radio host Kristen Kurtis is heading home.

Kurtis, who spent about four years as KGSR’s midday host, has been tapped to host mornings on legendary Philadelphia radio station 88.5 WXPN-FM. In addition to her on-air duties at KGSR, Kurtis also served as assistant program director and music director.

She’s previously worked for stations in Boston and Spokane, Wash.

“As one who was raised on Philadelphia radio, returning to the area via 88.5 brings my life and career full circle,” Kurtis said. “I am ecstatic, proud and honored to be joining the prestigious staff at WXPN.”

Kurtis’ new gig is set to start next month.

“We’re really excited to have Kristen join our team,” said Bruce Warren, WXPN’s assistant general manager for programming. “She’s a huge lover of music, radio, people and the Philly area, where she grew up.”

Even though we’ll no longer see her around town, we can still listen to Kurtis on air via the WXPN website. Check it out at xpn.org.


CW Austin sets debut date for new show featuring Austin comedian Brian Gaar

Brian Gaar (Annie Ray photo)
Brian Gaar (Annie Ray photo)

Local CW affiliate KNVA has set a debut date for “ATX Uncensored(ish)” hosted by Austin comedian Brian Gaar.

The news satire show will air weekdays at 9:45 p.m., following the station’s 9 p.m. newscast. It’ll also run at midnight each Saturday on sister station KXAN, following NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Gaar, a former American-Statesman reporter who is well-known on the local and national comedy scenes, will be joined on “ATX Uncensored(ish)” by a pair of correspondents, fellow comedians Kath Barbadoro and Joe Barlow.

Here’s how KNVA describes the show in promotional materials: “‘ATX Uncensored(ish)’ is the only show of its kind in Austin (and maybe even in the nation … we’re too lazy to look it up). It’s entirely produced in Austin and will give an edgy, satirical take on local news, incorporating a variety of platforms and styles. … It’s kind of a mix between ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Tosh.0,’ if they were set in Austin and sandwiched in between shows by Steve Harvey and judges yelling at people.”

If you’re itching for a preview, the station has already started posting clips at atxuncensoredish.com.

“We want the show to be funny, engaging and true to the CW Austin brand,” Gaar said. “So I’ll also be refereeing paternity disputes and starring in a terrible show about vampires.”

Look for an interview with Gaar, Barbadoro and Barlow online and in print next week.

Time Warner Cable News reporter gets on-air wedding proposal

Chris Cybulski proposes to Jess Mitchell. (Time Warner Cable News screengrab)
Chris Cybulski proposes to Jess Mitchell. (Time Warner Cable News screengrab)

Time Warner Cable News reporter Jess Mitchell got quite a surprise Tuesday when a co-worker proposed to her on the air.

That co-worker, fellow reporter Chris Cybulski, got the answer he was hoping for when a shocked Mitchell said “yes.”

The wedding proposal happened at Zilker Park, where Mitchell was reporting on plans to close much of the park to prepare for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Midway through the report, Cybulski appeared.

“Jess, I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said.

The two first met four years ago, according to a story on the Time Warner Cable News website.

“Chris’ laid-back Southern attitude, and Jess’ New York hustle, provided the ying and yang that brought the two together,” the story says.

Mitchell and Cybulski plan to marry next year.

Austin TV stations adding new talk shows, sitcoms

‘Mike & Molly’ enters syndication this fall. Look for it at 5:30 p.m. weekdays on KNVA.
‘Mike & Molly’ enters syndication this fall. Look for it at 5:30 p.m. weekdays on KNVA.

Fall’s here, which means it’s time for a bevvy of new syndicated shows on Austin TV stations.

Here’s a look at some of the newcomers you’ll see during daytime hours — and late at night — starting as soon as next week.


Tyra Banks returns to daytime TV on “The Fab Life” starting Monday at 3 p.m. The show displaces “Celebrity Name Game” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which land at 12:35 a.m. and 1:05 a.m., respectively.


“Hollywood Today Live” debuts Monday at 1 p.m. The entertainment newsmagazine bumps back-to-back episodes of “Divorce Court” to 3 a.m.


“Crazy Talk,” spotlighting the craziest moments from daytime TV, can be seen at 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. starting Monday.

Hit sitcom “Mike & Molly” joins the CW affiliate’s lineup at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 21. That’s the same day Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” settles into the 1 a.m. time slot.


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Austin’s ABC affiliate is sticking with its existing syndicated shows — including “Live with Kelly and Michael,” “Extra,” “Inside Edition” and “Ellen” — this season.


“Crime Watch Daily,” featuring crime news and features from across the country, bows Monday at 2 p.m.

The American-Statesman will take a look at new primetime shows a little later this month, so stay tuned.

Same old Stephen Colbert debuts his CBS ‘Late Show’

Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush chats with Stephen on the premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. JEFFREY R. STAAB/CBS
Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush chats with Stephen Colbert on the premiere of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” JEFFREY R. STAAB/CBS

So, it turns out that out-of-character Stephen Colbert is a lot like in-character Stephen Colbert. And I’m okay with that.

The comedian/actor debuted his version of the CBS “Late Show” Tuesday with a new house band from a revamped Ed Sullivan Theater, but there was no shortage of hints for fans of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” that they might want to stick around.

For starters, there was the set, familiar in its red, white and blue color scheme. The Captain America shield from his old show’s digs hung on the wall. And the host (oddly acting as his own announcer thought the night) was decked out in the colors himself. He addressed the audience as “nation,” a “Colbert Report” staple, and even referenced “Jimmy,” the control room presence from his old show when asking for an on-screen graphic to be removed.

While Colbert made every effort to retain his left-leaning “Report” viewers, the theme of “let’s all just get along” welcomed those of differing political persuasions who might have been tuning in out of curiosity.

The host began the show with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” taped in locales across the country. At the end of the opening, a little league umpire ripped off his mask to reveal he was none other than former Colbert boss (and the new show’s executive producer) Jon Stewart.

He treated his second guest, Jeb Bush (following George Clooney, whose film career was gently mocked in a series of “scenes” from the fictional movie,”Decision Strike”) fairly, generously allowing him to tick off talking points from his Republican Presidential campaign. Admitting that he and his own brother (in the audience) had differing political opinions but could still get along, Colbert asked Bush where he disagreed politically from his sibling, George W. Bush (not conservative enough, Jeb said).

The host ended the show with an all-star, conciliatory rendition of Sly and the Family Stone’s soul staple “Everyday People” featuring vocals by Mavis Staples:

I am no better and neither are you/We are the same, whatever we do.

Oh, sha sha … so subtle.

Other highlights:

  • A short, standing monologue in which the host introduced his house band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, led him to his desk (carved, he said, “out of a single piece of desk”) where he mocked Donald Trump, devoured a bag of Oreo cookies and  — at the command of a demonic, Assyrian firedog amulet — hawked Sabra brand hummus.
  • Colbert gave Clooney a wedding gift — a paperweight engraved with the phrase, “I don’t know you.”
  • The host envisioned Donald Trump’s proposed border wall as series of Trump skyscrapers knocked over onto their sides.
  • Colbert gave a short but sincere thank you to former “Late Show” host David Letterman by way of Letterman’s beloved stage manager, Biff Henderson.
  • CBS honcho Les Moonves sat in the audience in front of a console that would, ostensibly, allow him to flip the broadcast feed over to a rerun of “The Mentalist” in case of trouble.
  • It was awfully sweet of Colbert’s first audience to greet him with a standing ovation and the familiar, “Stephen! Stephen!” chant.
  • The host thanked the audience for joining him in making “television history. And, like most history,” he said, “it’s not on the History Channel.”
  • The Alamo Drafthouse tweeted this about Clooney’s fictional thriller:


NewsRadio KLBJ adjusts lineup, makes changes in mornings, afternoons

'The Todd & Don Show' moves to mornings on Monday.
‘The Todd & Don Show’ moves to mornings on Monday. (Facebook photo)

NewsRadio KLBJ is shaking up its lineup.

The new schedule, which features 10 hours of live, local programming each weekday, is set to debut Monday on 590 AM and 99.7 FM.

The biggest change: Hosts Todd Jeffries and Don Pryor are taking over the morning drive shift.

The station’s morning show has been in a fluid state in recent weeks, since co-host Sgt. Sam Cox retired. Cox’s former co-hosts, Mark Caesar and Ed Clements, are sticking with the station, but will be heard later in the day.

Caesar will helm a show from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. alongside Charlie Hodge. Hodge was previously on sister station 93.7 KLBJ-FM.

Clements, meanwhile, will team up with longtime NewsRadio KLBJ afternoon host Jeff Ward from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Austin’s diverse and rapidly growing population deserves an outlet for meaningful, insightful conversation, and we believe this lineup serves that interest with the most compelling and entertaining hosts in Austin and beyond,” said Chase Rupe, vice president of programming and operations for Emmis Austin Radio, NewsRadio KLBJ’s owner.

A new show from 93.7 KLBJ-FM’s Dale Dudley is being added weekdays at 2 p.m., while another newcomer, the nationally syndicated “Dana Show” featuring conservative talker Dana Loesch, will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dudley will continue to co-host the 93.7 KLBJ-FM morning show, as well.

“NewsRadio KLBJ is available on 590 AM, the region’s biggest radio signal, and also in Austin on 99.7 FM,” said Emmis Austin Radio vice president and market manager Scott Gillmore. “We are welcoming another generation of information-hungry listeners to Austin’s most venerable and provocative radio brand.”

The full NewsRadio KLBJ lineup, effective Monday:

  • 6 a.m.: “The Todd & Don Show”
  • 9 a.m.: Mark Caesar and Charlie Hodge
  • 11 a.m.: Rush Limbaugh
  • 2 p.m.: Dale Dudley
  • 3 p.m.: Jeff Ward and Ed Clements
  • 7 p.m.: “The Dana Show”
  • 9 p.m.: “Ground Zero” with Clyde Lewis

New location for LHN’s ‘Texas GameDay’ broadcasts this season

The new 'Texas GameDay' set debuts Sept. 12.
The new ‘Texas GameDay’ set debuts Sept. 12.

“Texas GameDay,” the Longhorn Network’s football pre-game show, will originate from a new location this season.

Find the LHN gang at East 23rd Street and Robert Dedman Drive, near Gate 25 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, starting Sept. 12.

The updated “Texas GameDay” set features a vintage Airstream trailer. Broadcasts begin two and a half hours before each home game.

“The new location allows us to even further illuminate the experience of Texas football and directly engage with fans on game day,” said Tom McCollum, LHN’s coordinating producer. “We are still able to bring viewers into the stadium and provide a unique vantage point with the sideline flex-set, while also having more interaction with fans outside the gates prior to the game.”

The show features LHN host Lowell Galindo, as well as analysts David Thomas, Vince Young and Ricky Williams, contributor Kasey Studdard and reporter Jane Slater.