After 2 years away, former KVUE news boss returning to Austin

Frank Volpicella

Frank Volpicella, KVUE’s news director for 16 years before departing in 2016, is returning home.

Volpicella, who served as managing editor at WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., and news director at WGCL in Atlanta since leaving Austin, is set to become the next general manager of Community Impact’s Cedar Park-Leander edition.

“After two and a half years of being away from the best city in the country, I’m returning in mid-October,” Volpicella said. “I am thrilled to be able to return home and be close to family and friends. Our son and daughter-in-law live in Dallas, and my wife and I couldn’t stand being so far away from them. I am also excited to be able to serve the community I love once again.”

Volpicella was one of several high-profile KVUE staffers who left the station when its owner, Tegna, offered voluntary buyouts two years ago. Others included chief meteorologist Mark Murray.

Volpicella says he’s excited about what’s ahead. He partnered with Community Impact on several occasions while at KVUE, and is well acquainted with the publication’s founder, John Garrett.

“I am leaving TV news after a long career in broadcast journalism to now work for a company and a publication that I admire and respect,” he said. “The company leaders share the same vision I have, of serving our communities with quality journalism in order to make our communities a better place to live. I spent 16 years in the Cedar Park-Leander area, making friends and developing business partners. I hope to renew those friendships when I return this fall.

“On a personal note, I look forward to seeing a Texas sunset again over Lake Travis and to eating the best barbecue and Tex-Mex anywhere. But most of all I look forward to being close to family and to renew the friendships that I made during my 16 years here.”

Spectrum News Austin scaling back sports coverage

Austin’s Spectrum News is scaling back its sports coverage.

The 24-hour cable news network available exclusively to Spectrum subscribers will stop airing “Sports Night,” a nightly 30-minute sports show, this week.

The last broadcast for the show, which airs at 10:30 p.m. with a repeat at midnight, is Friday.

Some Spectrum News sports staffers will be reassigned as a part of the change.

The station does still plan to have some sports coverage, according to a spokesperson for Charter, which formed Spectrum after acquiring Time Warner Cable.

“As with any network, from time to time our programming and staffing will change as we strive to better engage our viewers,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll still have sports coverage, including our ‘High School Blitz’ show, but we have decided to change some programming to offer viewers more information that is relevant to them.”

After family health scare, Mix 94.7 host takes step to ensure heart wellness

Alex_Dr. Goswami
Alex Franco discusses the HeartSaver CT with Dr. Vivek Goswami. (Heart Hospital of Austin photo)

It’s the kind of call no one wants to receive.

Mix 94.7 morning co-host Alex Franco was on the road back to Austin after a visit to Dallas when he learned from a hospital chaplain that his brother, David, had just had a massive heart attack.

“I was at an exit right outside of Waco,” Franco said. “My heart just dropped when I heard the news. It just kind of came out of nowhere. It didn’t sound good.”

The situation was so severe, Franco learned, that David had to be flown from a Houston hospital to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston by helicopter for treatment.

Franco says his brother didn’t really meet any of the common risk factors. He wasn’t overweight. He wasn’t overly stressed. And he was only 47 years old at the time.

None of that mattered though.

“He had a pacemaker put in,” Franco said. “He had to change his whole lifestyle – and he didn’t have a bad lifestyle before.”

It was that scare that ultimately prompted the radio host to get his own heart checked out at Heart Hospital of Austin, where he underwent the HeartSaver CT test.

“As a male, we tend to procrastinate,” Franco said. “I realized I was taking my heart for granted. I was taking my body, my health for granted. It’s not just me. I have a wife, a 3-year-old boy and a 1-year-old daughter.”

The test only took about five minutes and when he got the results, there was no cause for alarm.

“I’m good,” he said. “I’m clear.”

Dr. Vivek Goswami was Franco’s doctor at Heart Hospital of Austin, where the HeartSaver CT has been performed for about a decade. He says the test is a noncontrasted CT scan that looks for calcium in arteries. It provides patient and doctor both with a numeric score – the higher the score, the higher the risk.

Dr. Goswami suggests the procedure become common practice, much like mammograms and prostate exams.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing more people than cancer, car accidents, infections and suicide,” Dr. Goswami said. “We aren’t routinely doing anything to screen heart disease, even though it’s more likely to kill Americans.”

Everyone eventually develops plaque, Dr. Goswami said, but the amount can vary greatly. Ways to combat the risks it poses include better eating, aerobic exercise and, in some cases, taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

First, though, before determining a course of action, doctors need facts – facts Franco says the HeartSaver CT provides.

“I know, in Austin, we’re all busy, but I really hope others will do this,” Franco said. “If something bad turns up, it can be handled. I don’t want anyone to ever have to deal with the alternative. Nobody should have to go through that.”










The CW Austin to air 5 Texas State football games this season

Ralph Barrera photo / American-Statesman

Austin CW affiliate KNVA will air five Texas State University football games this year.

The matchups set to be broadcast include:

  • Sept. 8: Texas Southern (6 p.m.)
  • Oct. 6: Louisiana (6 p.m.)
  • Oct. 27: New Mexico State (6 p.m.)
  • Nov. 10: Appalachian State (3 p.m.)
  • Nov. 24: Arkansas State (3 p.m.)

David Saltzman and Keith Moreland will anchor the broadcasts, joined by sideline reporter Megan Birdsong.

“KXAN and The CW Austin are committed to bringing more exciting local programming and sports content to the local communities that we proudly serve across Central Texas,” Eric Lassberg, vice president and general manager of sister stations KXAN, KNVA and KBVO, said in a written statement. “College athletics are unique in that strong bonds are formed between students and alumni across multiple generations based on shared traditions and a continued passion for their athletic teams. As a result, we are thrilled to partner with Texas State University to deliver unprecedented viewing experiences and coverage of these five exciting games to local viewers and Bobcats fans throughout Central Texas.”