There is a new outlet for local news, weather and other information as The Herald-MailCo. expands into a new format with HMTV6 on Antietam Cable.
In addition to reading the newspaper or logging on to The Herald-Mail’s website at www.herald-mail.com, area residents can turn to HMTV6 on Antietam Cable Channel 6 to watch regularly updated news, weather, sports and features of local interest, said Andy Bruns, president of The Herald-Mail Co.
The channel launched at 1 a.m. Monday.
“The answer to the question is why hadn’t we done this a long time ago,” Bruns said. “We’ve got the biggest newsroom in the area by far and technology gives us the ability to turn traditional print reporters into television sources.”
“We have the unique situation of having sister companies — a newspaper and a cable system — located in the same area,” said Liz Thompson, The Herald-Mail’s digital director. HMTV6 personnel will take “the news and information we are already gathering and distribute it on a new platform,” she said.
Schurz Communications Inc., based in South Bend, Ind., owns The Herald-Mail Co. and Antietam Cable.
“We will rely heavily on the existing reporters, the newsroom, to get much of the content we will repurpose for HMTV6,” said Thompson, who noted reporters have been shooting video and editors have been posting their video on The Herald-Mail’s website for years.
“The news cycle will be updated several times a day,” Bruns said.
“We’re really excited to be participating in this venture in conjunction with The Herald-Mail,” Antietam Cable Director of Marketing Cindy Garland said. “We feel the combination of highly localized news and weather will be an advantage to our customers.”
News Director and anchor Raychel Harvey-Jones said regular segments will include “Court Reports,” a review of cases each week; “Paws for Thought,” a pet adoption program with the Humane Society of Washington County; “In Focus,” featuring the work of Herald-Mail photographers; “Through a Veteran’s Eyes,” a program on veterans issues with Art Callaham; and “Weather Wise,” an informational feature with Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.
Also launching Monday is the station’s website, HMTV6.com, where people outside Washington County can access segments from the channel, Thompson said.
Harvey-Jones is new to the area, having moved here from Los Angeles, where she was working as a freelance reporter, mostly for ABC World News, but viewers likely will notice hers is not a West Coast accent.
A native of Wales, Harvey-Jones began her career with the BBC in the United Kingdom. She later worked with BBC Asia and covered the 2007 assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Harvey-Jones eventually moved to Bloomberg Television in London, working as a general-assignment reporter. That transitioned into a job reporting on commodities, which often are affected by extreme weather such as floods, drought and hurricanes.
“I’m a little bit of a weather geek at heart and I married a meteorologist,” Harvey-Jones said.
Bloomberg sent her to State College, Pa., where she trained with AccuWeather and received a forecasting certificate from Penn State.
“I wanted to come back east. This position came up and I walked into the building — call it gut instinct, call it women’s intuition ... I was excited to start something from scratch,” she said.
“When Liz (Thompson) said to me, ‘I want you to build a television station,’ she literally meant build a television station,” Harvey-Jones said.
The idea for a television station began more than a year ago, taking the top headlines of the day and turning them into a five-minute broadcast, Thompson said.
“The ideas for what we could do just kept coming,” Thompson said.
That included not one, but two, television studios, one in the former reception area of The Herald-Mail and a second news and weather studio with a master control room in the space on the floor below, Thompson said.
Harvey-Jones will share anchor duties with Hans Fogle, who has been doing radio, including news and talk, in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle for nine years.
“He has great local knowledge” of the region from his work in radio, Harvey-Jones said.
Beggs, who has a master’s degree in earth and atmospheric science, was brought in from St. Louis as one of HMTV’s two meteorologists, Thompson said.
“The Midwest can have some really severe weather,” Beggs said. “I got interested in the weather at a really young age” and never stopped learning about it.
Karen Williams of Laurel, Md., who has worked as a television weather forecaster at WJLA in Washington, D.C., is bringing her experience and screen presence to HMTV6, Harvey-Jones said.
“It’s a nice chemistry,” Harvey-Jones said.
Behind the cameras is a crew that includes Joan Erdesky, Andrew Gehman, Chris Stone and Bethany Davidson, she said. Dustin Lawyer is the video coordinator between the newspaper and the station.
“The Herald-Mail expanded into digital and has now expanded into broadcasting, which is an extremely forward-thinking approach,” giving readers, Web surfers and viewers choices for how they get their news, Harvey-Jones said.
“If someone comes up with any new ways to bring news to people, we’ll do that, too,” Bruns said.