Thinking Inside the Box

MPTV Signs Off Analog Channels 10 and 36

by Ellis Bromberg, General Manager of MPTV

Hi, Ellis Bromberg with another video "Thinking Inside the Box." Some of us thought the day would never come, really: the day when we would finally sign off analog channels 10 and 36, and make that full transition to digital television.

But on Friday, June 12th, shortly after 9 a.m., that's exactly what we did. You know, this transition was in the works for almost two decades at MPTV, the total cost over the years was some 16 million dollars, so it should come as no surprise that we think of it as a milestone in the history of television here in southeastern Wisconsin.

During the actual powering down of the stations, we were monitoring that countdown clock in master control, and up at our transmitter the engineers were getting ready to throw the off switch.

Back here at the studio we toasted the sign-off with champagne -- and donuts because it was morning!

And we ran a phone bank to handle viewer calls. You know, lots of people have wondered whether there was still an issue at the end of this process, and couldn't believe there were still some people who hadn't made the transition to digital, or were finding it difficult. Well, MPTV staff and volunteers helped over 11-hundred viewers who still had questions over those two days.

My guess is that most of you were not glued to your TV sets at the moment we signed off, and you probably didn't set the DVR. But you might be interested in how we handled this YouTube-worthy moment. So, I'm going to share it with you. One note -- do not call the phone number referred to in the tape; it was only open for questions during June 11th and 12th.

But, now here, without further ado, is how we signed off, forever, analog WMVS/Channel 10 and WMVT/Channel 36 on Friday, June 12th, 2009, at 9 a.m. ...


PAUL TAFF (October 28, 1957 Station Dedication):
"Good afternoon. Welcome to our opening program on your community television station, WMVS Television. Educational television around the country is certainly on the upgrade. There is a meeting going on right now in St. Louis with representatives of 28 educational stations from around the country, planning programs to bring to the people of the country. And certainly Milwaukee, today, begins its service of educational television to the Milwaukee area."

That was a key moment in Milwaukee television history, Channel 10 General Manager Paul Taff welcoming the viewing audience during the station's very first program, October 28th, 1957. It was southeastern Wisconsin's first noncommercial, educational television station.

And then, on January 28th, 1963, a similar event occurred when WMVT, Channel 36, began broadcasting.

In a few moments we will mark another milestone in Milwaukee television history, when the analog stations of both WMVS/Channel 10 and WMVT/Channel 36 end broadcasting, a little after 9 o'clock this morning, June 12th, 2009.

Over the years, thousands of professionals, volunteers, and students, supported by generous members, underwriters, federal and state funding, and our licensee, Milwaukee Area Technical College, have provided a unique television service to our area. Unparalleled educational children's programming and life-long learning, balanced and in-depth news and public affairs, history and science, a passion for arts and culture, coverage of environmental concerns, and a voice for diverse communities.

OUTDOOR WISCONSIN, ETHICALLY MILWAUKEE. BLACK NOUVEAU and ADELANTE! THE CIRCUS PARADE, THE GREAT TV AUCTION, and THE MILWAUKEE SYMPHONY. I REMEMBER, CHILDREN'S FAIR, THE MAKING OF MILWAUKEE -- all award-winning locally-produced series and specials that have aired alongside the best-quality national public television offerings -- from NOVA to GREAT PERFOMANCES, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE to MASTERPIECE THEATER, THIS OLD HOUSE, JULIA CHILD, MacNEIL/LEHRER, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. MISTER ROGERS and, of course, SESAME STREET. All TV icons, brought into your home for more than 50 years on analog TV.

Milwaukee Public Television isn't going away, of course. But once we sign-off the analog transmitters, you'll need to have a digital TV, a digital converter box, or a cable or satellite service to continue to watch the new, digital Channels 10 and 36. On digital Channels 10.1 and 36.1 through 36.8 you'll be able to see all your old favorites, and groundbreaking new programs and services for years to come.

So -- now it's time to do this!

Right after we sign-off analog, and we air the national anthem, please join us on Milwaukee Public Television's new digital stations, WMVS-DT and WMVT-DT. And if you have any questions about the switch to digital, we're running a phone bank until 9 o'clock tonight to answer them. Call us at 1-800-221-1036.

Thank you for your support all these years, and stay with us now for the new era at MPTV -- digital television.

And now, for the very last time, I have the honor of saying... you've been watching WMVS/Channel 10 and WMVT/Channel 36, Milwaukee.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, our national anthem.


"The Star Spangled Banner" plays, followed by a test pattern, and then the screen fades to black...