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.”
Time 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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”