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Media Moves: Election Ads Emerging On Air, What's Up With WAOE

Screenshots from Bustos' "Gold Star" (left) and King's "Rebuild" (right).

You know it's getting close to election season crunch time when candidates start popping up on your local airwaves.

17th Congressional District candidates launch first TV ads

The race for the 17th Congressional District is hitting the TV airwaves this week. Both incumbent Rep. Cheri Bustos,D-Moline, and Republican Esther Joy King are debuting their first 2020 general election ads. 

Bustos' first ad highlights Kylie Riney, the wife of the late Sgt. Doug Riney of Fairview, in Fulton County, who was killed in action in Oct. 2016. Kylie Riney's woes in terminating her lease in Fort Hood, Texas to move back to Illinois after her husband's death inspired the Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act.

Bustos is spending $1,845 for 17 spots on HOI ABC this month, and $12,510 for 20 spots on WEEK-TV. She hasn't purchased any ad spots on WMBD, so far.

King's first ad highlights the candidate's military service, and seeks to portray Bustos, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairperson, as a Washington, D.C. insider not focused enough on her district.

King purchased 44 spots worth $20,800 on WEEK, 53 spots worth $7,820 on HOI ABC, and 76 spots worth $14,380 on WMBD.

The sprawling 17th Congressional District also stretches into the Rockford and Quad Cities television markets. It covers most of Pekin, Canton, and the southern portion of Peoria County.

Koehler, Burress start pouring money into TV ads

Both incumbent state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria,  and his Republican opponent, Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress,  also are making their first rounds of TV ad buys this month.

Koehler has purchasd 144 ad slots worth $81,000 of ads this month on WEEK-TV, and an additional 201 slots worth $27,900 on HOI ABC. Buress purchased 71 spots worth $36,725 on WEEK and 45 worth $6,535 on HOI. Both stations are managed by Quincy Media.

On Nexstar's WMBD, Koehler purchased 165 ads spots in September for $33,650. Burress bought 66 spots worth $18,400.

The 46th State Senate District covers parts of Peoria, Tazewell, and Fulton counties, including parts or all of the cities of Peoria, Pekin, and Canton.

What's going on with WAOE?

This space has posted a couple times about MyNetworkTV affiliate WAOE-TV moving its transmitter from East Peoria to Ottawa, near Starved Rock State Park. That process still appears to be in flux for Peoria-area TV viewers.

Rabbit ear TV viewers have only been able to pick up the station's main 59.1 stream since January, when it temporarily moved to a new broadcast signal out of Creve Coeur, while WAOE got its new LaSalle County transmitter up and running. The 59.2 Antenna TV and 59.3 Light TV substreams haven't been on air since January.

Dish Network and DirecTV viewers in the Peoria region apparently haven't been able to receive the channel at all since mid-July, when the Ottawa transmitter went online. The owners of those satellite networks claimed they couldn't receive the signals coming out of Ottawa from their downtown Peoria antenna array.

Though WAOE is still licensed to Peoria, its new transmitter is in the Chicago market, and ostensibly stretches into Cook County.

Credit FCC
WAOE's new proposed coverage area map. The new proposed channel 18 transmitter site would extend additional coverage to Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. The new transmitter based out of LaSalle County touches the fringes of the core Tri-County region, though the station is still licensed out of Peoria.

WAOE's owners filed paperwork with the Federal Communication Commission on July 30 to construct a low-power transmitter in Pekin to "boost" the Peoria-area signal on channel 18 and continue carriage in central Illinois. The construction on that new low-power transmitter is expected to begin this week.

It appears WAOE also is terminating its longstanding partnership with WEEK-TV. The two stations filed a mutual agreement with the FCC to end their joint sales agreement, effective Oct. 1, 2020. Hat tip to Roger Monroe of The Community Word for reporting that nugget first in his monthly "Straight Talk" column.

Where in the world is Lauren Melendez?

An outpouring of social media well-wishes and laments poured last month when popular WEEK-TV Weekend Anchor/Investigative Reporter Lauren Melendez announced her departure from the station after 3-plus years on the air in Peoria-Bloomington.

So far, the Philadelphia native has been mum on where she's headed for her next adventure. Before coming to Peoria in 2017, Melendez covered Congress for Sioux City, Iowa's KCAU-TV in Washington, D.C.

Doc Watson sets up shop on a new station

Long-time Peoria radio personality Doc Watson was cut from Cumulus' 95.5 WGLO back in July after a COVID-19 related furlough.

The central Illinois media veteran has found a new home on 99.9 WWCT. His first shift on the eclectic, locally-owned rock station was heard over the Labor Day weekend.

Watson is a broadcasting hall-of-famer, also serving stints on WMBD-TV's "Morning Mix" in the '90s and early '00s, and hosting sports or other programming on several other stations.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.