witf Blog

  • Three WITF board members share the best advice they ever received

    Written by Katie Cibort

    Three WITF board members share the best advice they ever received


    Most board meetings include a social time and the opportunity for an “insider’s look” at some aspect of what we do. For example, reporter Scott Detrow gave an informal talk about his time covering the Pennsylvania National Guard in Iraq. Craig Cohen, host of Radio Smart Talk, has shared his experiences at the mike of this important new program. This week, TV Smart Talk host Nell McCormack Abom and the Smart Talk production team staged a small-scale Smart Talk featuring three board members as guests and the rest of the board as studio audience.


    The topic for the special Smart Talk was The best advice I’ve ever received…and the best advice I’ve ever given. Board members Dr. David Bronstein, Ms. Romana Li and Ms. Deidre Simmons participated, and the interview with Nell is here.



    Published in witf Blog

    Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010 21:36

  • Carl Kasell

    Written by Katie Cibort

    Carl Kasell

    Published in witf Blog

    Wednesday, 17 Mar 2010 21:32

  • What channel is WITF on in your area?

    Written by Katie Cibort

    What channel is WITF on in your area?




    Provider - FiOS TV

    City/Region - Harrisburg

    Channels -

    WITF HD on channel 503

    WITF-TV 33 on channel 3



    Published in witf Blog

    Thursday, 11 Mar 2010 21:09

  • WITF TV and Radio Off Air

    Written by Author 74

    WITF TV and Radio Off Air

    Published in witf Blog

    Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010 16:02

  • WYPM and WITF HD2 Radio Outage Last Night

    Written by Chris Anderson

    WYPM and WITF HD2 Radio Outage Last Night

    Published in witf Blog

    Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010 14:14

  • “Why is WITF’s image cropped on my screen?”

    Written by Ron Kain

    “Why is WITF’s image cropped on my screen?”

    This is one of the frequently asked questions fielded by our customer service and technology staff at WITF.  But there isn’t a simple answer.

    Until the advent of high definition technology, television programs were produced with a 4x3 aspect ratio (meaning that the screen was 4 units wide to 3 units tall).  Since the advent of high definition programming, television sets and shows have been produced with a 16x9 aspect ratio, which is also the ratio used for films in movie theatres and for digital high definition programs.

    Therefore, stations such as WITF have a wide mixture of programs—some older programs produced in a 4x3 format and new national content produced in 16x9.  This mixture of content, combined with the television broadcast “supply chain," are the fundamental reasons that shows often appear awkwardly shaped or cropped on your screen at home. It can often times create an awkward viewing experience on analog tiers of cable/satellite and fiber systems.

    What’s a “television broadcast supply chain"?  It’s all of the equipment that a program passes through on its journey from the broadcast station to the home user’s television set.  In between a program might pass through a satellite transmission, a computer storage server, microwave transmission and other distribution gear, depending on how you receive the signal in your home.

    In an ideal world, every piece of equipment in this chain would be able to detect the program’s aspect ratio—and adapt the display of the image to each aspect ratio. There’s a “marker” called the Active Format Descriptor (AFD) flag which does just that.

    WITF is fortunate that, through the generous support of a WITF donor and technology enthusiast, we have been able to purchase the equipment to correctly capture and re-transmit this aspect ratio information for new programming.  This has corrected the aspect ratio on about 90% of the programming WITF transmits, especially during prime-time.  Unfortunately, there is still older programming in the archives as well as some national shows that do not have this information embedded which can wreak havoc on consumer television sets!

    The issue is further complicated by the cable, satellite, and fiber delivery systems.  For display on the basic tiers of these subscription services, providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and Dish Network will “center cut” WITF’s 16x9 digital feed so that a 4x3 image will be displayed on their system. “Center cut” means removing the edges of the image all around so that the 16x9 image will “fit” into a 4x3 shape.

    Center cutting often cuts off  graphics or material that are formatted outside of the 4x3 area that is being transmitted to you. Most national PBS producers are aware of this practice “center cutting” and try to produce their programs so that graphics are kept to the center of the screen. But we still have weekly examples of programs getting center-cut.

    We are hopeful that these technology-transition issues will resolve themselves in time. Generally speaking, if you have a 16x9 television and receive programming over the air via an HD subscription service, WITF’s programming should look okay except for the few cases where older content is being broadcast.

    If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me directly or by commenting below.

    Later this month, I hope to share a behind the scenes look of the digital translator installation taking place at the same site we transmit 93.3 from in Chambersburg!

    Ron Kain
    Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer

    Published in witf Blog

    Tuesday, 9 Mar 2010 14:11

  • Welcome to The WITF Blog

    Written by Katie Cibort

    Welcome to The WITF Blog


    In the b-t-s vein, this weekend was the WITF Spelling Bee weekend. This regional installment of the national Scripps National Spelling Bee had been sponsored by The Patriot-News for many decades; we were honored by the Patriot’s trust in WITF when they asked us to take it over last year. The Bee is a milestone in the school year for dozens of schools in a 9-county area—each year, schools run local bees to select winners who then compete in a two-part regional bee (a written test for about 130 students, fifth through 8th graders). Thirty finalists then compete in a verbal test—a “spelldown” in bee-ese.


    WITF’s special contribution to this long-running effort is our ability to produce the spelldown for television—just as the national Scripps Bee will be televised in June on ESPN. The 2010 WITF Spelling Bee airs Sunday, 28 February at 5:30 pm, Wednesday, March 3rd at 7 pm, and (for in-school viewing) Friday, March 5th at 1 pm.


    The WITF Spelling is also available on demand at at witf.org, and if you want to compete at home, here’s a sample test.


    Let’s just say that this whole Bee-thing has brought out the not-so-inner geek in every WITF-er. We had staff members jostling to join the long-established Advisory Board, or to do just about anything (appeals meister? Comfort room staffer?) that needed to be done. I can’t explain how mesmerizing the Bee can be—staffers who usually talk about their weekends spent with TV sports were glimpsed visiting the control room, watching intently as words such as “bellicose” and “schadenfreude” were pronounced, defined and spelt. You can see photos from the production here.


    Welcome to the world of WITF, and we look forward to your questions, views and comments.


    Published in witf Blog

    Tuesday, 2 Mar 2010 21:45