Call letter clean-up for KUNT and KWTF
THE call letters for a station heard 'round the nation have been changed.
KUNT is no longer the call sign for an unbuilt, low-power digital TV station in Wailuku -- and a sister-station in Flagstaff, Arizona is no longer KWTF -- the last three letters of which are shorthand for a coarse version of the phrase, "what the heck."
The Illinois company that owns the stations has followed through on its stated intention to change the call letters, chosen while Vice President Kevin Bae was, "asleep on the job," he said last month.
The new Wailuku call letters are KHIW, while KBFG replaced KWTF.
The "K-WHAT?" column of July 16 citing the initial call letters spawned more e-mail to TheBuzz than any other reporting by your columnist, as it got picked up by broadcast industry publications, the Drudge Report, blogs, online forums and Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" TV show.
Bae was already embarrassed and said he wishes Drudge had not picked up on it, "because it only caused me more embarrassment. I received many calls and my name was even bandied about on local radio here in Chicago." He prefers a more low-key existence. "Just goes to show what happens when you goof big time," he said yesterday.
Broadcasters are on their honor to choose appropriate call letters, as the Federal Communications Commission provides no human oversight. Its Broadcast Call Sign Reservation and Authorization System is online, totally automated.
It didn't used to be that way. A broadcaster could request specific call letters from the call sign desk, where FCC staff would verify availability. A broadcaster could also choose to have the FCC assign them, which is how Honolulu's KBFD-TV received its call letters in 1984, said General Manager Jeff Chung.
Chung said the station is so well-branded, he plans no change.
For more sheltered readers unfamiliar with BFD's meaning, it expresses the state of being underwhelmed, using a version of the F-word sandwiched sharply between "big" and "deal."
Bae, of Illinois, observed yesterday that, "after your article made its way around the Internet perhaps the FCC will take some of those (questionable call letters) off the blocks now."
Nope. TheBuzz checked. KUNT and KWTF are available again. What the ... ?
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com