At noon tomorrow, the TV station where I had my first real job after college will go off the air.
Although technically, since the Ohio News Network is a cable news channel, the signal will cease to be carried over the cable wires.
A few weeks ago, the Dispatch Broadcast Group, the company that owns ONN, announced it would be shutting down the channel because of “changing viewer attitudes.”
Despite the fact that rumors of ONN’s shutdown were circulating the day I started in January 2000, the station grew. Still, the decision to close came as a complete surprise. Whatever the reasons behind the shutdown, they were beyond the control of those who worked hard every day to report the news of Ohio.
For almost four years, that was me. It took me a while after graduating to find a job. When I finally landed the job at ONN, I packed up my 1986 Buick Century Limited and drove it out to Ohio (with some help from King Classic). Like pretty much everyone who worked there, I had every non-9-to-5 schedule possible, including weekends and holidays. I worked with a lot of people who were at a similar place in life and who also devoted their lives beyond normal working hours to the place. But by the end of my time there, I realized I didn’t want my life to revolve around TV. Besides, I had worked on enough big stories (September 11, the conflict in Iraq, the 2000 presidential election, some guy who built his own ass kicking machine and many more) in my time there that I felt like I wanted to tell different stories.
I grew a lot at ONN, learning, working and building friendships that I have to this day. I’ll never forget my time there. And I can say that if it weren’t for ONN, I wouldn’t be where I am today (possibly including meeting The Civee and all that other stuff). But for me, I needed a change from TV. And I hope all my former co-workers can recover from the station’s shut down.
When I was there, I worked in the news department. But the most fun I had working there was as an honorary part of the sports department. At the time, ONN was very involved in high school sports. From August through March, the network aired a half-hour show Friday nights at 11:30 carrying scores and highlights from football (in the fall) and basketball (in the winter) games from around the state. If you’ve paid any attention to the Kingdom, you’ll know that I don’t have any use for basketball and I could care less about football. However, my first fall there, I was asked to help work on the show, collecting scores to run in the ticker.
I worked at least four extra hours every Friday, eventually moving on from scores to coordinating satellite feeds and helping with the lower third graphics in the control room. Each Friday from about 11:00 to 11:57 was extremely stressful. But working on the show was fun. As seriously as people take high school sports, the show got very light-hearted, especially in the intro video that opened each show. For the last show of the 2001-2002 season, we decided to do something a little different. The result was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had working: