September 24, 2017

CUNY TV Station Turns Over an Old Leaf, Transmitting by Air to Widen Its Reach

That is the way most viewers got their television signals before cable and the Internet came along, starting in the days when television was still something of a novelty and programs like “The Honeymooners” and “Your Show of Shows” were hits.

But now, in the wired and wireless world of the 21st century, broadcasting over the air has expanded the reach of CUNY TV beyond the five boroughs, where CUNY TV has had a steady, modest presence on cable systems since the 1980s.

Its fans say it is public television without the pledge drives.

CUNY TV sill reaches the 1.7 million households in the city that have cable. But the over-the-air transmission has, for the first time, put the station on sets in the city that are not connected to cable and in suburban communities where the channel is not carried on local cable systems.

The signal, transmitted from atop an office building in Times Square, covers about 35 miles, far enough to reach White Plains in Westchester County; Levittown on Long Island; Greenwich, Conn.; and Edison, N.J.

The executive director of CUNY TV, Robert S. Isaacson, said the change quadrupled the number of households that could receive its programs.

“This is a miraculous lift in our coverage, in our audience base and in our ability to reach people who want to see our kind of content,” Mr. Isaacson said.

Adding an over-the-air signal makes sense, said Mark J. Colombo, owner and editor of the Web site RabbitEars.info.

“Over-the-air TV is still viable,” Mr. Colombo said.

“In fact, the latest statistics continue to show that over-the-air television is gaining in acceptance. People are thinking about cutting cable and satellite subscriptions to save money, and they’re moving to a combination of free over-the-air TV, which gives them the major networks, plus online video to supplement that.”

CUNY TV is broadcasting on Channel 25.3, alongside WNYE-TV, the city-owned station that broadcasts on Channel 25.1 and is operated by NYC Media, part of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. NYC Media also broadcasts hearings from the City Council, news conferences from City Hall and other municipal events on Channel 25.2, known as NYC gov.

(Those channel numbers may confuse cable customers accustomed to a one-number, one-channel lineup. Televisions made in the past few years have built-in tuners that can receive such channels, and converters are available for older sets. CUNY TV remains on Channel 75 on most cable systems in the five boroughs; WNYE-TV is on Channel 74.)

For Mr. Isaacson, whose résumé includes consulting on television for The New York Times, the over-the-air signal was the result of two developments, one a fact of life in the digital age, the other a marriage of sorts with WNYE-TV.

The fact of life was the federally mandated change from analog to digital signal transmission in 2009, a switch that many cable customers were oblivious to. Digital transmission let stations like WNYE-TV broadcast more than one signal over the air at once (though the second and third signals — like CUNY TV’s, on Channel 25.3 — can be seen only on sets new enough to receive digital signals, or on older sets with converters).

That increased the number of channels and gave cable-only stations like CUNY TV a chance to find a place on the broadcast dial, something CUNY TV badly wanted.

As Mr. Isaacson put it, “We had to figure a way to get this university off the wire and into the air.”

A merger of technical operations with WNYE-TV made it possible. WNYE-TV left its longtime base in Brooklyn — next door to a City University branch, the New York City College of Technology — and moved its broadcast control center into CUNY TV’s space at 365 Fifth Avenue, at 34th Street, where WNYE could take advantage of CUNY TV’s more advanced technology.

Marybeth Ihle, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, said the move “was done to make use of a modern, single, centralized location that was close to public transportation.”

The programming on WNYE-TV is separate from that on CUNY TV, though both are locally oriented. Mr. Isaacson said CUNY TV aimed to be “quintessential noncommercial TV, not quintessential public TV.”

CUNY TV’s week is arranged by subject, with people-oriented programs on Monday, science shows on Tuesday, public affairs programs on Wednesday, foreign-produced programs in their original languages on Thursday and arts programs on Friday.

“More power to PBS,” Mr. Isaacson said, “but public stations don’t really serve local communities.”

To do that, CUNY TV has recruited a number of journalists who had worked in commercial television in New York, among them Gail Yancosek, who was the executive producer of “Good Day New York” in the 1990s.

Working with her are a number of television reporters whose names and faces may be familiar to New York viewers, including Ernabel Demillo, who was a reporter on “Good Day New York” when Ms. Yancosek was in charge and is now the host of a new monthly series called “Asian American Life,” and Carol Anne Riddell, who was an education reporter and a weekend anchor at WNBC-TV and is now a reporter and host of a CUNY TV monthly magazine, “Science U!”

“The most significant difference for me is time: time to tell a story, time to work on a story,” Ms. Riddell said. “It’s also the time to think.

“I spent most of my career in local news. For me now, a piece could be anything from five or six to seven minutes. That is an eternity in local news. I came from the school of ‘Give me your best 90 seconds.’ ”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/nyregion/hitting-the-airwaves-cuny-tv-turns-over-an-old-leaf.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Yahoo to Move Into Old New York Times Headquarters

Yahoo, the giant Web company that agreed on Sunday to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion, is moving its New York headquarters to the former home of The New York Times, on 43rd Street, east of Eighth Avenue, where it plans to expand.

Yahoo is talking to city officials about erecting a large illuminated sign with its name on the cupola at the top of the building, where The Times once had its own sign.

The move, announced on Monday, illustrates the rapid growth and importance of the technology industry in the city’s economy.

Yahoo, which has signed a long-term lease for the 9th through 12th floors in the 15-story building, is joining two other tech tenants there: 10gen, which makes database software, and Citysearch, the local search engine.

Yahoo is based in Silicon Valley. The company, which now has about 500 employees in three buildings in New York City, said it expected to expand its work force in the city to 700 within the next couple of years, particularly in the engineering area. Microsoft is moving to 11 Times Square and Facebook is nearby.

“For a while now,” Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive, said, “Yahoo has been looking for a home here in New York. We have several hundred employees spread across several offices. And I’m proud to say that we’ve found it.”

The company’s New York employees currently work at 1065 Avenue of the Americas (at 40th Street), 1540 Broadway (at 45th Street) and 11 West 19th Street.

Lately, Ms. Mayer has focused on reinvigorating the company, armed with billions of dollars in cash from the sale of half its interest in the Chinese Internet company Alibaba. On Sunday, Yahoo agreed to pay cash for Tumblr, a blogging service.

Tumblr’s 175 employees work from offices at 35 East 21st Street, and they will not move to Times Square. In order to attract employees, Yahoo plans to install the kind of amenities at the former Times building that are common at tech companies, including outdoor terraces and a cafeteria with an extensive menu of free food.

It would be similar to the setup at Google, which paid $1.8 billion for a building in Chelsea, at 111 Eighth Avenue. Google now has about 3,000 employees in the city.

“Since the Lehman Brothers collapse, tech has been carrying the New York City economy,” said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, a research organization. “It’s been an engine of growth and has helped diversify New York’s economy beyond Wall Street. They’re creating jobs and eating up more real estate.”

The fortunes of the former Times building have closely followed the rise and fall of the real estate market. Tishman Speyer Properties bought the property from The New York Times Company in 2004 for $175 million, after The Times announced plans to build a new headquarters several blocks away, on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets.

Less than three years later, Tishman Speyer sold the building to Africa Israel USA for $525 million. The buyer spent $100 million on gutting and renovating the property in an effort to transform it into a first-class office building.

But the real estate market went into a tailspin, and Africa Israel was crushed under the weight of $711 million in loans. The company scrapped plans for wooing office tenants, and instead signed deals with Bowlmor Lanes, an upscale bowling alley, and Discovery Times Square, an exhibition hall, for the lower floors.

In 2011, the Blackstone Group, an investment firm, bought the bulk of the building, the top 11 floors, for $160 million. Blackstone abandoned plans for luring financial institutions and other corporations to the building, focusing instead on the growing tech sector.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/nyregion/yahoo-to-consolidate-new-york-headquarters-in-times-square.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Procrastinating Holiday Shoppers Abound

A holiday shopper in New York's Times Square.ReutersA holiday shopper in New York’s Times Square.

I spent a lot of the weekend shopping online for Christmas gifts I should have bought, and shipped, weeks ago. Try as I may, I can’t overcome my procrastinator tendencies.

But at least I have lots of company.

A survey released by Visa Inc. on Monday found that nearly three-fourths of consumers still haven’t finished shopping for Christmas gifts, with just over a week to go before the big day.

The survey is based on a telephone survey of 1,007 people conducted between Dec. 14 and Dec. 16 by GfK Roper OmniTel. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

One finding made me feel a bit better, though: Sixteen percent of consumers haven’t bought any gifts at all and plan to do all of their shopping at the last minute. I have at least made a (reasonable) dent on my list. I’ve learned from hard experience that toys, in particular, must be bought early on, lest you receive the dreaded “out of stock” message when clicking on that must-have item.

In part, my dillydallying is enabled by technology: With online retailers promising later and later deadlines for holiday delivery, I don’t have a sense of urgency to buy items early.

There’s a possible financial downside to waiting. Last-minute shoppers say they will spend an average of $304 in the final days leading up to Christmas, the survey found. But they may end up spending more than they had planned.

Visa says last-minute shoppers are vulnerable to “panic shopping,” in which they overspend because they are shopping in a hurry to get things in time for Christmas.

I know that feeling. When you wait too long and find items are out of stock, a comparable gift may cost a bit more — and still miss the mark.

A friend whose family owns a jewelry store told me that the busiest sales day is Christmas Eve, but it’s not necessarily the most profitable for the family’s business. Those who shop on the night before Christmas are usually desperate, and they often haven’t thought through their selections. As a result, the recipient is often unhappy — and ends up returning the item. As many as half of Christmas Eve purchases end up coming back, he said.

Have you finished your gift shopping? Did you stay within a budget?

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/procrastinating-holiday-shoppers-abound/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Conversation: Franchisee Challenges a Restaurant Chain, to the Benefit of Both

He had been a serial entrepreneur since the 1980s, starting and selling a small commercial printing company and then a share of a drug-testing business. After buying and selling real estate for a few years, he decided to try franchising. Although he feared the role might be constraining, Mr. Tankel had heard that Applebee’s was an entrepreneurial restaurant chain, and he went to its headquarters in suburban Kansas City, Kan., to meet with its chief executive.

Sixteen years later, Mr. Tankel owns 34 Applebee’s. He has repeatedly challenged the corporation to accept changes to its formula — from its uniforms to its menus. His first restaurant on Staten Island took in $3.5 million the year it opened, 1995 — a time when the average Applebee’s was taking in $2.2 million.

Today, his Times Square location has the highest annual revenue, about $13.5 million, of any Applebee’s in the world. His 34 locations average $4.25 million in revenue, double Applebee’s nationwide average. (The numbers were confirmed by Applebee’s.) The following is a condensed version of a recent conversation.

Q. You have said you loved building companies. Why did you buy a franchise?

A. I saw an opportunity. I went to visit the company’s headquarters in Kansas and felt there was the opportunity to bring entrepreneurship to franchising, marrying the best of both worlds.

Q. You bought the right to start a store whose concept was created by someone else, with a set of protocols already in place. Is that entrepreneurship?

A. Maybe this kind of thing isn’t for the average franchisee but we pushed the envelope right from the start, took those protocols to the next level, and I think that’s entrepreneurship. We changed the uniforms for instance, got rid of the baggy shirts and ties. If you’re sitting at a bar, you want the woman behind it to look good, not buttoned up.

I remember when we started karaoke nights in Staten Island. We had a huge line outside, but the franchisor didn’t permit karaoke and they said we had to stop. I told them, ‘I’m paying you a fee to do business, so unless you want to pay us for the customers we are going to lose, it’s not appropriate for you to ask us to stop.’ They cited us for going against franchise policy. I was known as a troublemaker.

Q. Why did you decide to keep buying locations?

A. Nothing succeeds like success — it’s intoxicating. And it’s still gratifying for me. It’s gratifying now to see us go into underserved neighborhoods in and around New York City and see people on the periphery get a job, get skills and grow. We’ve opened restaurants in low-income neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Jamaica and the South Bronx, and we are usually the only sit-down restaurant in the neighborhood, one of the few places where customers are all treated with respect.

Q. What have you learned about doing business in those neighborhoods?

A. When we open a restaurant and are interviewing, we will have guys show up with their pants hanging below their crotch, their hat on sideways, answering our questions antagonistically. Our recruiters will say to them, ‘If you’re here for a job, go home and get dressed like you’re applying for a job and then come back.’ Many will go home, change and come back.

Q. Do you hire differently than other Applebee’s?

A. In the New York market it’s hard to find people with good attitudes, so we try and hire by personality. We can teach you to cook, to make a drink, to be a server, but we can’t teach you how to be nice.

Q. How do you screen for nice people?

A. You see it in a person’s demeanor and mannerisms; it’s in their smile. Is it sincere? It’s the way you shake my hand, look me in the eye, the way you say hello.

Q. You opened your first Applebee’s in Staten Island, a location Applebee’s insisted did not fit its model. What didn’t they like?

A. It was in a mall that had just completed a big addition, and the restaurant was to be at the rear entrance to the mall. Applebee’s wanted it to be at the front of the mall, so people would see it as they entered.

Q. Why did you open there anyway?

A. We felt comfortable being in the rear because there was a big parking lot and an entrance to the mall there too. Today both entrances are used equally. I felt and I still feel that we know the New York marketplace better than they know it from Kansas.

Q. What else did you do that went against the model?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=56d4fce88e3a5b13b6e6aea26a04edf6