Illness has overwhelmed the staff at a television station in Northern Michigan, so much so that the station has had to cancel all its local newscasts indefinitely.

The Smallest TV Market in Michigan

WBKB-TV (Channel 11) is the smallest television station in the smallest TV market in Michigan. The population of Alpena is a little more than 10,000 people, but the station serves the entire Northeast quadrant of Michigan. Alpena is the third-smallest TV market in the entire US.

Illness Sidelines Staff Members

WBKB-TV issued a statement saying that all local newscasts would be canceled until further notice. The statement, however, did not specify what type of illness had plagued staff members.

"Due to multiple employees being out of the office because of illness, we will not be broadcasting any newscasts until further notice. We will be sure to update you when we once again have the necessary staff. Thank you for your patience as our crew looks to return to full health.”

Kevin Hodge is the station's news director and says no return date for employees has been set.

"We have multiple people out with illness, including reporters,” Hodge said. “Right now, upper management is in talks and will be talking about when it’s safe for everyone to return to work. Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve sent everyone home to keep them healthy.”



Small-Market TV Charm

Growing up in Northern Michigan, I learned to appreciate that small-market TV has a certain charm. It's often a half step above high school TV class, offering new broadcasters a place to begin their careers. (ABC-12's Larry Elliot and Terry Camp got their starts in Alpena.) This lack of experience often shows, sometimes in delightful ways.

Years ago, we put the spotlight on a kooky meteorologist who weaved endless pop culture references into his wacky weather forecasts. He playfully referred to Flint as 'The Dirty South.' Ouch.

We also outlined the 'Small Market TV News Drinking Game.' Be forewarned, it's not for lightweights.

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Check out these 27 TV shows that have been based right here in good ol' Michigan.

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