Since stations nowadays pretty much run 24/7, I think it would be cool if all (or at least some) stations chose to run the National Anthem one last time. Maybe run an old school sign-off message that ran pre-1990s stating your effective radiative power, address, etc. as a tribute to the heritage of these stations.
It would great at midnight that night to have a message stating that analog broadcast is ending....run National Anthem....color bars for a few seconds....snow on the TV.
Any one else have any ideas for analog to go out on a bang?
It's a romantic thought, but it's unlikely to happen.
A few reasons:1.
You don't want to run something like that on the DTV/cable feeds, because the very LAST message any station wants to send to those viewers (who are already getting bombarded with confusing messages) is that "we're about to sign off." The whole thrust of the education effort that those of us in the business have been trying to get across for months now is, "don't worry - your TV stations aren't going away." And if you don't want to run something like that on the DTV/cable feeds, you've got to have the capability to generate a separate feed to your analog transmitter. Not all stations can do that - in fact, most can't, which is why all these "simulated analog shutdown" tests have required a great deal of engineering effort to patch in alternate video and audio sources. And the last thing ANY engineer wants to be dealing with on the night of Feb. 17 is yet another complex task.2.
If we've done our jobs right, by the time we get to the night of Feb. 17, the number of viewers still watching in analog will be pretty small, ideally verging on zero. The stations in my market have already started disrupting analog programming with bars and text messages and so on urging viewers not to wait to convert to digital. I expect that sort of disruption will escalate in the next two months to the point where programming will be all but gone from the analog channel by 2/17 anyway. 3.
Depending on the market and on each individual station's circumstances, the analog signal could be gone long before 2/17. I'm counting anywhere from 3-5 stations a day
dropping analog over the last few weeks, as stations try to get tower crews in place to swap out antennas, or as they convert analog transmitters to digital, or in some cases simply as aging analog equipment just dies and isn't worth fixing. So the number of stations that will even still have analog on the air at midnight on 2/17 isn't as big as you'd imagine.4.
Midnight is a lousy time to do a sign-off like that, since it will fall in the middle of Leno or Letterman or Nightline on the coasts, or in the middle of Conan or Craig or Kimmel in CT/MT. This is an especially big concern for stations that will be relocating their digital signals to their former analog channels (like my local WHEC, which goes from 58 back to 10), since they'll have to be off their old DTV channels by midnight if they're out-of-core. I suspect that in reality, they'll quietly (emphasis on "quietly") shut off analog a couple of days ahead of the deadline so they can light up the new digital service before the big moment.
I'm sure the transition will get big coverage on the 10/11 PM newscasts that night. I doubt there will be much special anything on the air at midnight itself. This engineering chess game is complicated enough without adding that factor...