A television station is coming to Ocean Springs.
Edward Saint Pe', who runs a successful company producing on-the-air weather reports for television stations around the country, bought WKFK in Pascagoula and is moving the studio to downtown Ocean Springs.
He bought the former Riley & Riley Photography building at 1018 Government St., and that’s where he will set up shop.
The station call sign is Ocean 7.
Saint Pe’ told the Sun Herald he expects his station to be on the air as Ocean 7 in the fall.
Paddles Up and Tri Hard Sports are in the building now. Tri Hard will move within a week to a new venue on Porter Street west, putting them closer to the beach and the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Saint Pe’ said the television station will actually be in the back of the building, but it needed some of the room Tri Hard was using for storage.
Workers with Shoreline Communications were laying fiber optic lines to the building on Monday. The new station will send its shows digitally via those lines to a tower in Vancleave where they will be broadcast, eliminating the need for a tower in downtown Ocean Springs.
Saint Pe’s company, WeatherVision in Jackson, produces weather forecasts for about 30 television stations that don’t have their own meteorologist.
“We supply their on-air weathermen,” Saint Pe’ explained. “We’re in Miami, Memphis, Chicago. We’re in a pretty diverse market.”
He plans to move the Jackson studio to Ocean Springs and produce reports from there. He said they compile weather reports tailored to each area they serve. He has three full-time meteorologists, including himself, and they gather the reports, produce them assembly-style with branding for each station and send them out digitally.
In addition, he said, Ocean 7 will offer local programming, including weather and interview shows on Ocean Springs and Coast issues. It will be different from WKFK and have a focus on Ocean Springs.
During the day he plans to show “Bewitched,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Green Acres” at set times. At night, it will have “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, he said.
“Nightique” is an interview show that features live performances from musicians, Saint Pe’ said. The show is airing weekly in markets across the state now and will be produced in the new studio in Ocean Springs.
“I am hoping to tie into some of the casinos and interview incoming talent for the show each week,” he said.
The station already has made it through the Planning Commission, Mayor Connie Moran said. “We’re excited.”
The signal for the station, which will actually be three HD channels, will be carried over the air with a reach from Pass Christian to Foley, Alabama, Saint Pe’ said. It also will be on AT&T’s U-verse, and he’s working on Cable One.
The staff of meteorologists are moving with him. The bookkeeper and CPA for his company will remain in Jackson, where he has a studio at Jackson State University and serves as an adjunct professor.
Viewers will be able to get Ocean 7 with an antennae.
‘A great vibe’
“Ocean Springs is such a wonderful town with so much going on,” Saint Pe’ said. “It has a great vibe.”
“I think it will be a good fit,” he said. “We can promote the town, and the leaders will have a vehicle at their disposal to serve the community.”
Improved technology has allowed Saint Pe’ to locate in downtown, and even newer technology is on the horizon for television, he said.
“TV is morphing into something new,” he said, giving a nod to online streaming services, and the melding with over-the-air television that he says is coming.
“Television is not what it used to be,” he said.
He looks to the day — which he estimates five years down the road — when mobile devices will routinely pick up television stations over the air, streaming to iPads and cellphones, the real free TV.
Saint Pe’ said he wasn’t really looking to locate in the area until he contacted the owner of WKFK on other business and found the station was for sale.
He said he’s from New Orleans and liked the idea of getting closer to that area, and Ocean Springs was a good fit.
He called his project, “the modern television station of today. It’s cleaner, no microwave tower overhead.”