What do Joyce Meyer and Mary Tyler Moore have in common?
Their shows, one religious and the other a 1970s sitcom, are featured on the revamped WLFT, Channel 30 (cable Channel 17). The local station, owned by Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, has retained some of its religious programming, such as Meyer’s “Enjoying Everyday Life,” while becoming a MeTV (Memorable Entertainment) affiliate with classics including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
The station’s new target audience is the 35-and-older demographic.
“It’s family-friendly,” general manager Lucas Fry said Tuesday of the MeTV lineup.
Other vintage shows on MeTV include “M*A*S*H,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “The Honeymooners,” “Perry Mason” and “The Untouchables,” to name just a few.
Fry came on board at WLFT in February. Bethany actually had the station up for sale, but has since taken it off the market, Fry said. He explained that although the large religious networks make big profits, the smaller stations tend to struggle.
“That’s what I do. I try to find a niche. I did this in Charleston (S.C.) and it did very, very well,” he said.
Fry worked in Charleston just prior to moving to Baton Rouge. In Charleston, he changed over a church-owned station with Spanish programming into a Retro Television Network (RetroTV) affiliate. Prior to that, Fry’s resume includes work with Disney, Dolly Parton and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
“So I really wanted to go back into religion once I got out of the secular world, and TBN wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Fry said. “I wanted to help these local church stations be successful. What I do is I come in and rebrand the television station, I relaunch it.”
Part of this is signing on with a secular network that people want to watch. He said Christians will traditionally watch the big networks and they may watch the local station.
“We’re not going completely away from religion. From 6 a.m. to noon every day there will be religious programming. From noon to 6 a.m., it’s not religious.”
This schedule begins Jan. 1, 2012, but for now, the station airs religious programs from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., MeTV from 4 p.m. to midnight, and infomercials from midnight to 5:30 a.m. The weekend lineup is slightly different.
“My goal is to get people to watch the television station and then invite them to church,” Fry, who has a Pentecostal upbringing, said.
The station’s plans don’t stop there, however.
WLFT will go digital on Wednesday, the final local station to make the switchover. Within the next several months, it will launch three more over-the-air stations. MeTV will air 24 hours a day on Channel 30.2 beginning Sept. 1, Country Music Network will be on Channel 30.3 starting in December, and Me2 should go on the air on Channel 30.4 in December or January. Me2 features African-American comedies including “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons.”
All this will be done using the station’s new, state-of-the-art automation system.
There are also plans for local sports, community and public affairs programming, but no plans for a daily newscast.
“Treme Actor” will speak in BR
New Orleans native and “Treme” star Wendell Pierce will be the keynote speaker for the 2011 Performing Arts Exchange in Baton Rouge Sept. 22.
Pierce will offer his insights on the importance of art and culture in the country and the role residents all can play in creating a better world.
Pierce portrays trombone player Antoine Batiste on the critically acclaimed and New Orleans-set HBO series “Treme.”
The Performing Arts Exchange is a major conference held annually for arts professionals. It will take place Sept. 21-24 at the River Center, the Manship Theatre and Shaw Center, and other locations downtown. PAE is presented by South Arts, a regional arts organization based in Atlanta.
Think “American Pickers” with a fashion twist.
Pairs of fashion-forward women are being sought for a new television series which will follow the duos in their quest for rare clothing and jewelry finds … at bargain prices.
If you’re the queen of the flea market or the master of garage sales, send name, contact information, blog, etc., along with a photo of yourself and your partner in the hunt to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Worth a look
CURIOSITY: 7 p.m. Sunday, Discovery Channel (cable Channel 46). Big names tackle the big questions in this series aimed at those “Do you ever wonder?” queries. First up is Professor Stephen Hawking, who asks, “Did God Create the Universe?”
SHARKS OF STEEL WEEK: Monday-Friday, Military Channel (cable Channel 104). The nightly lineup will offer submarine-themed programming, including the premiere of “Perisher: Do or Die” at 9 p.m. Thursday and the U-Boat classic film “McKenzie Break” at 7 p.m. Friday.
SHOCK WEEK: Monday, Aug. 14, Investigation Discovery (cable Channel 103). The nights will be filled with the most shocking cases and surprising discoveries. The second season of “I Escaped: Real Prison Breaks” debuts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, while season two of “Unusual Suspects” premieres at 9 p.m. Aug. 14.
Television stations with news about programming, on-air reporters or personalities should send the information to: Judy Bergeron, television editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810; fax to (225) 388-0351 or email to email@example.com.