Weather on WBAL, 24/7, rain or shine

October 17, 2005|By NICK MADIGAN | NICK MADIGAN,SUN REPORTER

Starting today, Marylanders who simply must know whether it will rain or shine will be able to find out by tuning in to a 24-hour digital weather channel provided by WBAL-TV, Channel 11, Baltimore's NBC affiliate.

Available to Comcast subscribers on digital cable Channel 208, the 11 Insta-Weather Plus service will feature continuous local weather updates and five-day forecasts, plus regional and national reports provided by NBC, the station's partner in the venture.

In addition, the station's regular meteorologists - Tom Tasselmyer, John Collins, Neal Estano and Domenica Davis - will provide live and taped updates on the new service.

"It's the first time in Baltimore that anyone has used the digital spectrum other than for high-definition simulcasts," said Jordan Wertlieb, president and general manager of the station, which began testing the service on its Web site, TheWBALChannel.com, in mid-August. It remains available on the Web, and, for viewers with high-definition sets and tuners, can be seen on broadcast Channel 11-2.

The new service will improve on that provided by the Weather Channel's regional updates every eight minutes, Wertlieb said. Even during commercial breaks, he said, it will continually scroll through more than 20 towns and neighborhoods in Maryland with what he called a "daily planner," a look at what each day holds in the coming hours.

"This is a locally generated format with updates all the time," Wertlieb said. "You don't have to wait as you would on the Weather Channel."

NBC began setting up the 24-hour weather services in January, Wertlieb said, and since then they are up and running at the network's owned-and-operated stations in Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as at affiliates around the country.

WBAL, owned by Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., is one of several of the company's stations to have embraced the service, along with others in Orlando, Fla.; Sacramento, Calif.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Greenville, S.C.

"People are constantly looking for more weather reports," Wertlieb said. "This is a good business model."

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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