published Monday, June 18th, 2012

Moment: Broadcast brainiac

Tim Barber
Mark Colombo adjusts his outdoor television antenna on his back deck on a recent Saturday morning. Colombo is all in when it comes to receiving broadcast TV.
Mark Colombo adjusts his outdoor television antenna on his back deck on a recent Saturday morning. Colombo is all in when it comes to receiving broadcast TV.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Matt Colombo likes to say he has a “mental backup” of his website.

His recall ability is legendary among those who know him.

“This guy is like a brainiac,” says Matt Winn, vice president of Luken Communications, Colombo’s employer. “You name a city about anywhere across the country and he can tell you what networks are available, and on what channels.”

Colombo is a broadcast television devotee and, in his spare time, the electrical engineering grad shares what he knows, answering inquiries and doling out advice about reception via his website, RabbitEars.info. The product of his hobby is a problem-solver for over-the-air television watchers throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

Colombo knows what he’s talking about. He receives 34 over-the-air channels at his home atop Missionary Ridge between an outdoor UHF and VHF antenna, a free-to-air satellite dish and an indoor antenna.

One recent morning, Colombo demonstrated his recall abilities.

“I can pull that from memory,” he says as he tweaks his UHF and VHF antenna.

For instance, in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colo., “they have NBC and a weather channel on 5. PBS, which has the Spanish PBS and Create on Channel 8. Channel 11 is CBS and My Network TV,” he said. “[Channel] 13 is ABC and Telemundo. 21 is Fox and CW. They have 57 that is CW, they have a religious channel on 38 and on 51. Spanish Univision on 48 and 27.

“I might have forgotten one or two in there,” he says. “Those are the big networks, at least.”

He even has an answer to reception problems.

As he uses a crescent wrench to tweak the antenna on his back deck to correct for atmospheric disturbance, he offers up his solution:

“In a perfect world, the world would be completely flat.”

MOMENT is a weekly column by the Times Free Press photo staff that explores the seldom-told stories of our region. To hear this story in their own words, go to www.timesfreepress.com/moment.

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