WIBW-TV entered a new era Monday.
At 6:20 pm, the station ended the analog signal it used for more than 55 years and made the transition to digital broadcasting.
"This is moving into another technology and new developments," said Sue Gelgenbach, FCC analyst for the Topeka market. "People aren't realizing how historic this is."
For Gilgenbach and her FCC colleagues, it's been a year traveling the country, educating TV viewers. WIBW-TV has done the same, capping the countdown to the end of analog with another phone bank to answer questions. In addition, segments in a special 6 pm newscast Monday showed viewers how to rescan their TV sets and converter boxes and explained the technology involved.
With all the work, it boiled down to a simple, quiet push of one button, ending the analog signal, then a push of another, bringing the digital transmitter fully online.
As history was made, of course, questions were raised. One common concern had to do with a black frame around the picture. Gilgenbach said to get rid of it, viewers should look for a "zoom" or "aspect" choice in their menus, and change that to get rid of the box.
People also had questions about whether they have the right antenna. Gilgenbach said to be sure if it's rabbit ear style that it is one with the ears and the oval or bar in the middle so you get both UHF and VHF. You might want also to select one with an amplifier on it. In addition, www.antennaweb.org allows you to input your zip code and receive recommendations on the type of antenna you might need.
"I believe most people are ready to go," Gilgenbach said. "There are a few glitches, but all in all, it looks pretty good."