Answer Man

This channel is for people looking for some Grit in their TV viewing

Q: What has happened to Channel 199 — Grit? It had great action flicks and Westerns like “Laramie,” “The Virginian,” etc. Channel 199 is now Charge! and, in my opinion, offers nothing worth watching.

A.C., of O’Fallon

A: I swear sometimes the old ways are best.

Yes, thanks to you, I now can watch Grit — and seven other channels I didn’t know I could pull in. And so can you. All you have to do is ditch your cable and watch your TV the Stone Age way like I do — through your rooftop aerial.

You see, Charter’s Channel 199 is actually a subchannel of KDNL-TV Channel 30 in St. Louis — 30.3, to be exact. Those as old as I am will remember years ago when we could watch anything we wanted as long as it came on channels 2, 4, 5, 9, 11 and 30. Digital TV has changed all that. Those who still have rooftop aerials (like me) know that every station now broadcasts not only its primary channel but also multiple subchannels as well.

So KSDK, for example, not only offers 5.1 as the area’s NBC affiliate, but also Bounce TV (5.2), which is targeted at black viewers, and John Walsh’s Justice Network (5.3), which specializes in true crime aimed at adults 24/7. As a result, even without cable or dish, I now can choose among three dozen channels free of charge, including my favorite oldies on MeTV (4.2) and Antenna TV (2.2).

KDNL, which is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, also has taken advantage of this ability to broadcast multiple channels at once. On Oct. 14, 2014, it announced that it was teaming with Katz Broadcasting to distribute the Grit network. Called the first male-centric, over-the-air TV network, the action-oriented Grit targeted men 25-54 with a heavy emphasis on Westerns, war and action movies.

But in the ever-changing TV world that is constantly launching new niche channels, Sinclair decided to develop its own network. So, two months ago, Sinclair in affiliation with MGM announced that it would launch Charge! on Feb. 28. As a result, Sinclair has replaced Grit with its own Charge!

The Sinclair-MGM linkup allows Sinclair to draw on more than 2,300 hours of MGM-TV content and more than 2,000 MGM movie titles, including “Dances with Wolves,” “Platoon,” “Rocky” and the entire James Bond franchise.

But just because Channel 30 axed Grit doesn’t mean you have to. Thanks to your question, I did something I hadn’t done in too long a time — rescan my TV to find new digital channels. Well, guess what? One of the channels it found was KBGU, Channel 33, a low-powered digital TV station owned by DTV America out of Sunrise, Fla., and serving St. Louis.

As it turns out, KBGU has seven subchannels, and one of those is none other than Grit. So if you can make your TV pick up over-the-air signals from some sort of an old-fashioned antenna, you, too, can watch Grit again by rescanning your TV and tuning to Channel 33.7. If you’re interested, KGBU also offers BUZZR, a classic game-show channel (33.1); The Country Network, country music videos (33.3); LAFF, which mixes old sitcoms and comedy movies (33.4); and three shopping channels. My rescan also added K38HD (Channel 38) and WODR (Channel 45), which also has seven subchannels, but was too weak to generate a picture.

By the way, two weeks before Charge! launched, Sinclair debuted another new network, TBD, a station geared at Millennials with internet-based series and other digital content. It’s now Channel 30.2 for those with rooftop antenna. Sinclair and MGM have also teamed up for the Comet science-fiction network, which debuted in October 2015.

So if you have a rooftop aerial, dust off your instruction manual and rescan your set periodically for perhaps a surprise or two. Otherwise, to find Grit you’ll have to switch to DISH and punch up Channel 217, according to It is not available on cable at this time.

Q: My daughter recently inherited her Grandma’s 1970 Elna sewing machine. In the sewing basket was a receipt from 2005 for work done at the Belleville Sewing Center, 1801 North Belt East, but their phone number is no longer in service. Have they relocated or just gone out of business? Would you be able to suggest another sewing center that could work on an Elna?

A.H., of Belleville

A: You can bet that Belleville Sewing Center customers in the early summer of 2010 were saying “Darn it!” when they saw this sign posted on the door: After 33 years of keeping Belleville area residents in stitches, Bob and Judy Nelson would be locking up their store for the final time on July 30 and retiring.

So I offer you a couple of alternatives, although I can’t personally vouch for either because I can’t sew a stitch, much less have had a need for sewing machine repairs. That said, I’d certainly give Coffey’s Alterations, Sew & Vac Repair at 633 S. Lincoln in O’Fallon (618-624-8628) a call or visit. Open from 9-6 weekdays, they say they’ve been serving the metro-east for more than 40 years and tell me they can certainly take care of a 1970 Elna. Better yet, ask them about their in-home service.

You might also try Jackman’s Fabrics, 1000 Lincoln Highway, Fairview Heights (618-632-2700), which says it also repairs all makes and models of sewing machines. You can check them out at They also offer routine preventive maintenance to prevent future problems.

Today’s trivia

Who is generally credited as the inventor of the sewing machine? What year?

Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: So far, stopping or even lessening the fury of a hurricane has proven impossible, but it’s not because we haven’t tried. In the 1960s, the U.S. government started to fund research that looked into ways of modifying the terrifying storms. Called Project Stormfury, scientists tried to weaken hurricanes by dropping silver iodide into the rainbands of four monsters — Esther (1961), Beulah (1963), Debbie (1969) and Gigner (1971). They were hoping that the silver iodide would increase the size of the rainband while weakening the inner-core winds by releasing some of the latent heat that helps power the hurricane. By the 1980s, they realized it was an unworkable theory, and it was scrapped. Now, meteorologists have gone back to studying hurricanes to improve forecasting.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer