Friday, February 1, 2008

Sweeps idea: Watching football comes full circle

It's funny how many young people think technology is the best thing since sliced bread. But I'm sure you probably haven't noticed how high-definition has actually turned back the clock as far as TV is concerned.

Long long ago in a galaxy far, far away (around 1963) I was a rabid New York Giants fan. (Still am.) Problem was, in those days the NFL had a total blackout rule for home games, even when there was a sellout. And my team had been sold out since the beginning of time. Since the New York City station could not carry the Giants, we turned our attention, and antennas, to the nearest CBS affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut.

The scene was something like this on Sunday mornings. My dad on the roof, swinging the antenna toward Hartford. I was the "relay man" on the ground. Mom kept an eye on the set. A typical exchange went like this:

Dad: "Anything?"

Me: "Mom, anything?"

Mom: "Snow."

This went on until my mother could see what was a passable picture. Of course if it really was snowing in New York, it made the game nearly impossible to watch. Eventually we got a remote-controlled rotating antenna. There was no cable, no satellite, and no monthly bill. TV was free.

Flash forward. We've been paying an exhorbitant rate to get a decent picture on the tube.

Until high-def.

Now I can get a spectacular picture from my rooftop antenna which is better than the one you can get with cable or satellite. Free. Just like 1963. Without getting on the roof.

Few people know that high def TVs will actually work with old fashioned rabbit ears or an antenna. You don't need special converters if you have a high definition TV, which has been incorrectly reported in many media outlets. And the picture is better since you are getting it directly from the transmitter. (And there's your story idea for sweeps.)

Just funny that we think we've come so far, when in reality we've just gone back in time.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday's story ideas

The great jury duty scam. Apparantly some ne'er-do-wells are calling people, telling them they have jury duty, and asking for a social security number. Info from the FBI is here...

Considering more and more politicians are getting in trouble for sending personl stuff over the Internet, what's the policy in your market for your elected officials regarding computer use?

Saving water. Droughts may not be a problem in your market, but water conservation for everyone is just around the corner. What are the best ways to save?

Mitt Romney won't tell people how much of his personal fortune he's spent on his campaign in Florida. What are the political disclosure rules in your market?

Zyrtec goes over the counter. Is it better for the consumer when a drug goes OTC considering it is no longer covered by insurance?

Today's Super Bowl story idea. The game may be hazardous to your health. If you're a rabid fan who gets too emotionally involved while eating and drinking too much, you could actually boost the risk of heart problems. (I've heard this before. Years ago my late father had heart surgery, and the doctor, knowing he was a fanatical Mets fan, told him to turn off the set when Doug Sisk came in to pitch. Sisk had a habit of loading the bases and turning every inning into an emotional roller coaster.)

Thursday's story ideas

Bang for a buck. More and more restaurants are offering items for an even dollar... and now Starbucks, home of the four dollar latte, will offer joe for a buck. Is it working?

Another rate cut by the fed. What will this do to the real estate business? And will it pay to refinance your mortgage?

Crossover voting. Many primaries allow this, and many voters do so to vote for the weaker candidate in the other party.

Are beauty pageants dying? With Miss America relegated to The Learning Channel (huh?) are these events a thing of the past?

Organic food for pets. We may buy Twinkies for ourselves, but Fluffy and Fido are getting the best.

Super Bowl story for Sunday (You'll have to set this up in advance). A few years ago I went into a supermarket the day after the game, and the deli department had proudly displayed the weight of cold cuts it had sliced. Might make a nice feature the morning of the game.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wednesday's story ideas

Political emails. My mailbox has been flooded lately... is anyone paying attention, and are campaigns getting donations this way?

"Unlocked" cell phones. Turns out a lot of people who bought the iphone (which is supposed to be exclusive with AT&T) are using them with other carriers.

Use of soldiers names for commercial gain. Some antiwar protesters are making tee-shirts with the names of fallen soldiers, and some legislators don't like the idea. (For those of you too young to remember, during the Vietnam war people wore bracelets with the names of soldiers.)

Kids who exhibit ADHD at at early age are more likely to become bullies.

Since we had a request for some Super Bowl related ideas, here goes. How can you still get tickets, and how much will you pay to see the Giants beat the Patriots? More super stories later this week.

New British study reveals that people get more depressed as they enter middle age. (I'd give you more story ideas, but my mid-life crisis is calling.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sweeps idea: The great gas mileage experiment

A while back I had to drive a long distance by myself. I'd heard over the years that lightening the load in a car could help gas mileage, and I'd taken the golf clubs out of the trunk, which were collecting dust anyway.

I decided to try an experiment with my wife's minivan. I took out all the seats before the trip, leaving the front passenger's seat which wasn't removeable. The only thing in the car besides me was my suitcase. Then I hit the road in the van, which usually gets 26 miles to the gallon on trips.

The van has one of those electronic mileage calculators, so I reset it at the beginning of the trip. When I returned home I was amazed to find I'd gotten 31 miles to the gallon... just by removing the seats (which were, I might add, pretty heavy). Talk about a money and environment saver!

Anyway, I'm sharing this with you because it might make a good story in this era of high gas prices. You might find someone in your market who is on the road all day without any passengers.

There, you've got a sweeps idea.

Tuesday's story ideas

Sorry I've been AWOL from the blog the last few days, but I was on the road. OK, back to the news...

Political polls that aren't even close. While people will tell pollsters just about anything on the phone, it's a different story in the voting booth. This seems to be particularly true regarding Hillary and Obama.

State of the Union follow up. What could some of the proposed changes mean to your market?

Political commercials. Someone who doesn't work in the industry once asked me, "How do the politicians buy up all the commercials?" Might make a good package to explain the political advertising regulations... and how campaign spots can bump regular advertisers.

Political endorsements... do people care? And will it change someone's vote?

Sick on vacation. With all the news of people coming down with illnesses on cruise ships, what's the best way to protect yourself before you head out on a trip?

Interest rates are falling, but are you still paying a whopping rate on your credit cards?