Tuned In: WQED puts daytime focus on children's programming

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WQED shakes up its daytime lineup Monday, adding more children's programming, enough to air uninterrupted from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

"Sesame Street" will air at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., with "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Departed shows "It's a Big Big World" (12:30 p.m.) and "Caillou" (1 p.m.) return to the schedule.

WQED program director Chris Fennimore said the switch to more children's programs reflects the available audience during the day.

Fans of "Sit and Be Fit" and "On Q" or "Charlie Rose" reruns need not fret. Those programs will move to a new digital subchannel called the WQED Create Channel.

When looking at additional programming streams for a new channel, made possible by the switch to digital television, WQED executives could have chosen PBS World, a public affairs/history/science channel with reruns of "Frontline" and "NOVA," or Worldview, which carries international programming, including foreign newscasts.

But because traditional WQED will carry three hours of news and public affairs programming each weeknight -- including the new program "WorldFocus" at 5 p.m., an international news show out of New York -- station executives opted for Create, a lifestyle channel.

"As far as a niche goes, to me, Create provided the broadest appeal," Fennimore said. "To have an additional channel that serves a broad audience seemed best."

Create programs are devoted to topics such as cooking, crafts, travel and home and garden. Program titles include "Ask This Old House," "Best of the Joy of Painting," "American Woodshop," "Rick Steve's Europe," "Lidia's Italy," "Katie Brown Workshop," "America's Test Kitchen From Cook's Illustrated," "Simply Ming" and "Spain ... On the Road Again," featuring chef Mario Batali and actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Listings for The Create Channel can be found at WQED.org under TV and Schedule.

In addition to the lifestyle programs, WQED's Create Channel will include two blocks of mostly public affairs shows, including a midday block ("Sit and Be Fit" at 11:30 a.m., "Charlie Rose" rerun at noon, "On Q" rerun at 1 p.m.) and an evening block (an updated, West Coast feed of "The NewsHour" at 9 p.m.; "On Q" at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and "Black Horizons" at 10 p.m. Friday; a "Nightly Business Report" rerun at 10:30 p.m. and "Tavis Smiley" at 11 p.m.).

WQED general manager Deb Acklin described the cost of adding The Create Channel as "modest." The channel also allows time for 90-second local underwriting spots between programs.

Another change at WQED will be the complete simulcast of WQED's main channel on its HD channel. For several years, programming on WQED analog did not always match what was running on WQED HD, a stream that came directly from PBS with some WQED HD programs inserted. Come Monday, both HD and analog WQED channels will air the same programming at all times.

For over-the-air viewers, traditional WQED will be found on Channel 13.1, The Create Channel on 13.2 and The Neighborhood Channel on 13.3.

On cable, Comcast will add The Create Channel on Channel 200 in traditional Comcast areas and on Channel 700 on former Adelphia systems. Armstrong will carry Create on Channel 416 and Verizon FiOS TV will place it on Channel 474. The Create Channel is not available via satellite.

'Black Horizons' reaches 40

WQED's "Black Horizons" celebrates 40 years of production with a one-hour retrospective airing Thursday at 8 p.m. Host Chris Moore and producer Minette Seate introduce clips from 40 years of programs, including documentaries made under the "Black Horizons" banner.

Hosts from the show's earliest years -- Ralph Proctor in 1968, Rose Jewel in 1972 -- are included along with clips from interviews with local luminaries including a 1969 interview with Bill Strickland and an August Wilson interview from the 1990s. The hour-long special showcases some of the musical performances and arts groups featured over the years as well as discussions on social issues and politics.

Of course, past fashions and period looks always make for moments of amusement on any retrospective and seeing Moore in a clip from "The Chris Moore Show," his previous series in St. Louis, is no exception.

WQED airs 'Speedy Delivery'

"Speedy Delivery," the documentary about David Newell, who plays Mr. McFeely in appearances on behalf of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," will air on WQED at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 with a repeat at 1 a.m. Jan. 17.

Tuned In online

Even though it's a holiday week, Tuned In has been active online, including a new podcast about the miracle of the SlingBox, "Dr. Horrible" on DVD and what's ahead in 2009. Listen or subscribe at post-gazette.com/podcast.

Tuned In Journal reviews "Game Show in My Head," the "Independent Lens" movie "Operation Filmmaker" and spills the New Year's resolutions of some animated characters. Coverage from the winter edition of the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles begins Wednesday. Read the blog at post-gazette.com/tv.

Today's TV Q&A responds to questions about the state of prime-time, digital TV and a WTAE slogan. Read it at post-gazette.com/tv.

Contact TV editor Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv .


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