Originally created 07/31/98

Station features local focus

Sandwiched between a thrift store and an apartment complex on Central Avenue, television station WBEK (Channel 67) transmits programs with 740 watts of effective radiating power -- the lowest in Augusta.

It's run by a staff of fewer than a dozen people -- about half of whom work part time. Jeremy Coghlan, a white-haired man who often answers the station's phone, is the general manager and owner.

The office isn't a fancy place but it's functional, and the station, like many other low-power stations, tries to appeal to the local community by airing locally produced programs, such as Eye on Augusta, Fifty Plus and Star Born.

"If there is a hallmark here," Mr. Coghlan said, "it is Augustans showing Augustans doing things on TV in Augusta."

The other low-power station is three-year-old WBM (Channel 36) in North Augusta. It broadcasts Christian programs at 1,000 watts of effective radiating power, more power than WBEK.

These stations are much smaller than full-power stations. ABC affiliate WJBF broadcasts at 100,000 watts of effective radiating power, CBS affiliate WRDW at 295,000 watts, NBC affiliate WAGT at 1.75 million watts and Fox affiliate WFXG at 2.5 million watts.

WBEK's studio is the size of a bedroom. It has a camera on a tripod, lights and a wall covered with jerseys. And when the production staff shoots other shows, the sports motif gets covered.

The shows produced at the studio aren't glitzy, Mr. Coghlan said. But they fill a niche, allowing local people to get on TV at a reasonable price.

"You get what you pay for," he said.


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