WTOK engineers officially switched the station's TV signal to digital only Friday morning. It was just the start of the process to bring viewers into the digital age.
Staff engineer Joe Blanks had the honor. At the count of one, he flipped off the analog transmitter and chief engineer Brad Lebrun switched over command to the digital transmitter.
For Blanks, the day held personal significance. Back in 1974, when this analog transmitter was installed, he was there. With the push of a button, Blanks completed an era for WTOK.
While on television the process took under a minute, WTOK and others around the country have been preparing for years.
And when it comes to the television industry, the big switch was historic. WTOK's three engineers barely had time to appreciate the moment as they quickly went through the steps of dismantling the unnecessary equipment now jammed in the transmitter building.
However, back at the station, it was all just beginning. General manager Tim Walker knew there would be a heavy demand for assistance, and as predicted, once the signal switched, calls began pouring into our call center.
"Most of the problems our viewers experienced today had to do with the necessary channel scan those people not on cable or satellite need to conduct," said Walker. "Plus, some viewers living outside of Meridian will need to upgrade their television antenna before they pick up our programming."
But despite the hectic day, station management said it's satisfied with the switch and has been impressed with how far the signal is reaching.
If you still have questions about the digital switch, WTOK will have a call center line open at 601-693-1441 beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. The FCC has a 24-hour call center at 1-888-225-5322.