‘Strange Town’ highlights haunted spots in Austin, elsewhere

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

Austin is, of course, more than a little weird, but it’s not the only “Strange Town” in Texas.

That’s what local paranormal investigators Billy Driver and Mark Morrow have learned as they’ve crisscrossed the state in search of ghosts in recent years. In fact, they uncovered so much unusual activity that they created their own TV show.

The first season of “Strange Town” debuted last fall, just in time for Halloween. This year, they’re back with a second season that kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday on KLRU-Q, a digital subchannel of local PBS affiliate KLRU.

“I grew up literally in a haunted house,” Driver said. “A lot of the stuff you see in movies happened to me as a small child. We had exorcists, priests, you name it … but most of the spirits were friendly and just wanted to tell their story. I just wanted to create a way to help the dead talk to the living, and to help all of the paranormal enthusiasts out there who need a credible, historical way to lend merit to this exploding hobby while hopefully opening the minds of skeptics.”

In the new episodes, Driver and Morrow — who have been featured recently on the Travel Channel and the Destination America network — check out a law office and the Clay Pit restaurant in downtown Austin, Galveston’s Tremont House hotel and a home in Gatesville.

“Even if you think it’s more likely Bigfoot exists than a ghost, the show is still interesting because it uncovers historical facts you never knew about at famed locations,” Morrow said. “The majority of our work is in factual research to give you a new perspective while learning about locations right around you.”

‘Strange Town’

8 p.m. Thursday


Now you can track your Time Warner Cable technician

techtracker imageTime Warner Cable, the Austin area’s dominant cable provider, has been busy lately rolling out new technology.

One of the newest items is the company’s Tech Tracker. Among other features, customers can get pre-appointment reminders. There’s also an option to get the name, identification number and even a photo of the technician en route to your home.

Notifications are sent via text or email.

Time Warner Cable also recently promised customers one-hour appointment windows, eliminating the need to block out all or part of the day to wait for a repairman.

From temp to perm: Jenni Lee staying at KVUE

Jenni Lee

Jenni Lee’s fill-in assignment anchoring KVUE’s weekend morning newscasts has turned into a permanent gig.

Lee had been subbing for Jade Mingus, who was on maternity leave. Mingus, however, has opted not to return.

“After a lot of prayers and tears, I decided to leave KVUE and stay home with my two sons,” she wrote in a Facebook message. “They are growing up so fast, and it was so hard to juggle my crazy schedule with a growing family. I’m sure a lot of moms can relate to the demands of work and home.”

Before joining KVUE on a temporary basis, Lee spent more than a decade at Fox-owned KTBC.

“Jenni is a talented anchor who connects well with our viewers because she is both trustworthy and personable,” KVUE executive news director Frank Volpicella said. “As a reporter she is a seasoned journalist who knows the Austin market and has a long list of contacts and reliable sources. I am pleased that she is now a member of my team.”

See Lee on the anchor desk from 7-9 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday on KVUE, plus catch her reporting from the field during the week.

“I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented and great group of people,” she said. “KVUE feels like home.”

More local TV staffing changes

  • Mark Monstrola has left KXAN. Monstrola, who started out as the station’s weekday morning meteorologist before shifting to weekend evenings, is now at the Fox station in Denver.
  • Lynae Miyer, who handled weekend evening weather duties on KVUE, has delivered her final forecast. In a Facebook message to viewers, Miyer said she plans to pursue a career outside TV news.

‘So You Think You Can Dance’ tour hits Austin Friday night

Jaja and Edson Juarez perform a hip-hop routine choreographed by Misha Gabriel. (Fox photo)
Jaja and Edson Juarez perform a hip-hop routine choreographed by Misha Gabriel. (Fox photo)

The “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 12 tour rolls into Austin this week – and the stars of the show are promising fans a production that’s bigger and better than ever.

It all happens Friday night at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre. Tickets are still on sale.

“We have a very, very strong show,” said dancer Hailee Payne, who calls Utah home. “It’s going to be super fun. The show is so different than the other tours. We’re all about the dance.”

The tour kicked off Tuesday in North Texas and will, over the next four months, hit about 70 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

“This is what dancers feed off of,” Payne said. “To have a huge audience, that’s amazing.”

Dancer Edson Juarez, a resident of Mission in South Texas, said he’s especially excited to be stopping in Austin.

“It’s my favorite city in Texas,” he said. “Austin’s my fave. Any time of the year, it’s gorgeous.”

Even after 12 years on the Fox network, “So You Think You Can Dance” still manages to draw a crowd wherever it goes. Payne said she thinks she knows why.

“The show keeps inspiring people,” she said. “It’s a small stepping stone for people to start their careers.”

‘So You Think You Can Dance’

8 p.m. Friday

Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theatre

Tickets: acl-live.com

ATX Television Festival announces first wave of programming

A 20-year 'Everybody Loves Raymond' reunion panel is planned.
A 20-year ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ reunion panel is planned.

The ATX Television Festival will be back next summer for a fifth year.

The event will run June 9 through 12 at several venues in the downtown Austin area.

Norman Lear, the man behind countless hit shows such as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” will receive the ATX Award at the 2016 festival, organizers said.

“We’re humbled and honored to have the legendary Norman Lear accept our Achievement in Television eXcellence Award, which was created with the intention of acknowledging those who have dedicated their lives to television – participating in its history as well as its future – and there is no one better suited to receive that honor than Mr. Lear,” co-founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson said in a joint statement. “We’re also thrilled to begin announcing our programming, as we strive to continue balancing our reunions, niche series, current shows and new series premieres, as well as some of the biggest hits from network, cable and streaming platforms.”

That programming will include a 20-year reunion panel for “Everybody Loves Raymond,” a writers’ room reunion for “The Shield,” a spotlight screening of former FX show “Terriers” and a script reading of the pilot for “Big,” a show that never made air.

Get more details at ATXFestival.com.

KGSR hires new midday host

Emily McIntosh
Emily McIntosh

Executives at 93.3 KGSR-FM didn’t have to look far to find a new midday host.

In fact, they didn’t even have to leave the building.

Emily McIntosh, who had been handling weekend duties at sister station 101X, can now be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on KGSR. She’ll also serve as music director.

McIntosh fills the spot vacated by Kristen Kurtis, who left Austin after four years to host the morning show at WXPN-FM in her hometown of Philadelphia.

“Emily was the very first resume and tape I received,” KGSR program director Haley Jones said. “She gets Austin, she gets the brand and, most important, I know she’ll be a tremendous asset in helping to take KGSR to the next level.”

Before arriving in Austin, McIntosh kicked off her radio career while still a student at Kansas State University.

“KGSR already has a team of amazing veteran talent, and to be the newest addition to that team is an absolute honor,” she said.

Blackout ends, KVUE returns to Dish Network lineup

Austin ABC affiliate KVUE is back on the Dish Network lineup after a brief blackout that lasted almost two days. 

Tegna, the company that owns KVUE, had been unable to reach a new agreement with Dish, even after a pair of extensions. 

The sticking point, according to both sides, was retransmission fees cable and satellite TV providers are required by law to pay broadcasters in exchange for carrying their signals. 

In a news release last week, Dish alleged Tegna was asking for almost double what it had been receiving. Tegna, meanwhile, said it was only seeking the same amount many other cable and satellite companies were already paying. 

In addition to Austin, Tegna stations in almost 40 cities nationwide went dark, including ones in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. 

Earlier this year, a similar dispute between Dish and Sinclair Broadcast Group knocked about 100 stations off the air across the United States, including local CBS affiliate KEYE. 

Austin ranks 5th in nation for ‘Sunday Night Football’ viewership

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (David Grunfeld photo / Associated Press)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (David Grunfeld photo / Associated Press)

Nearly half of all Central Texans watching TV Sunday night were tuned to the Cowboys-Saints game on KXAN, according to figures released by NBC.

The primetime matchup drew approximately 171,488 Austin-area households, accounting for 41 percent of all TVs in use at that time.

Those numbers were good enough for Austin to rank fifth in the nation in terms of viewership, NBC said.

Predictably, New Orleans and Dallas were the top two TV markets, followed by San Antonio and Albuquerque, N.M.

This week, “Sunday Night Football” features the 49ers and the Giants. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Latest radio ratings: Bob-FM, KASE, KVET lead the pack

574768_10151760842165317_567374334_nAustin’s top-rated radio station is … 103.5 Bob-FM.

Yes, again.

The station that prides itself in playing just about anything continues to lead the competition, according to the latest ratings data from Nielsen.

Country cousins KASE 101 and 98.1 KVET-FM were second and third, respectively, with 102.3 The Beat and local NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT rounding out the top 5.

Average quarter-hour ratings as of Sept. 9, courtesy of All Access (numbers in parentheses indicate rank as of Aug. 12):

1.) 103.5 KBPA-FM (1)

2.) 100.7 KASE-FM (3)

3.) 98.1 KVET-FM (2)

4.) 102.3 KPEZ-FM (4)

5.) 90.5 KUT-FM (5, tie)

6.) 96.7 KHFI-FM (3)

7.) 93.7 KLBJ-FM (6)

8, tie.) 95.5 KKMJ-FM (5, tie)

8, tie.) 101.5 KROX-FM (8)

9, tie.) 94.7 KAMX-FM (9)

9, tie.) 105.9 KFMK-FM (11)

10.) 104.3 KLQB-FM (7)

11.) 590 KLBJ-AM (13, tie)

12.) 93.3 KGSR-FM (10)

13.) 107.1 KLZT-FM (12)

14.) 96.3 KKMJ-FM HD3 (13, tie)

15.) 107.7 KLJA-FM (13, tie)

New job title for 102.3 The Beat morning host Ryan Kramer

Ryan Kramer (Twitter photo)
Ryan Kramer (Twitter photo)
Ryan Kramer, morning host at 102.3 The Beat, is assuming more responsibilities – and, hopefully, getting a bigger paycheck.

Kramer, who made his Austin debut two years ago, is taking over program director duties for The Beat and sister iHeartMedia radio station AM 1300 The Zone.

“I couldn’t be happier to promote Ryan Kramer to program director for 102.3 The Beat and AM 1300 The Zone in Austin,” said Patrick Davis, senior vice president of programming for iHeartMedia stations in Austin and Dallas. “He has been programming both of the stations for a while now and he has made both of them better under his watch. This is a well-deserved promotion.”

Before arriving in Austin, Kramer spent eight years at a station in Fort Collins, Colo.

“I’m so thankful and humbled by the opportunity that Patrick Davis has given me,” he said. “Special thanks to Patrick and (iHeartMedia executives) Jay Shannon, Brad Hardin and Pam McKay for the faith they have in me and the chance to lead 102.3 The Beat and AM 1300 The Zone to the next level.”