The goal of the Lottery Channel is to be the CNN of legal gambling. At the moment, though, the fledgling station is closer to "Wayne's World."
Consider these highlights from the channel's promotional videotape:
* An interview with the technician who installed the set's lighting. He remarked, in perfect deadpan: "Of course, people get a little upset at us if we happen to complete the installation and a week later something perchance happens to fall out of the sky, so to speak."
* An interview with the men who constructed the news set. They discussed the challenges of getting the set up five flights of stairs.
* An analysis of instant-win ticket-scratching techniques:
Interviewer: "We are here with Ray and John, and the question I have for John is, 'How do you scratch?' "
John: "I scratch until I win."
Interviewer: "And how about you, Ray? How do you scratch?"
Ray (stifling a giggle): "I scratch as fast as I can."
If Cincinnati businessman Roger Ach has his way, employees of the 2-month-old channel someday will look back on those "highlights" and laugh in the same way ESPN officials chuckle about their network's humble beginnings airing refrigerator-throwing contests.
Ach, an investment banker, is financing the Lottery Channel. He envisions a nationwide cable channel with round-the-clock programming featuring play-at-home lottery games, drawings from different states, features on jackpot winners, and other gambling news and entertainment.
In a nation that boasts channels devoted to weather and golf, and where an estimated 90 million people play lotteries every week, Ach has no doubt there is an audience for the Lottery Channel.
Ach said he already has spent more than $1 million and expects to spend "something past eight figures" to take the channel to a national satellite feed, something he hopes to accomplish in the next year.
For now, though, the channel's staff of five scrambles to put together a daily hour of advertisement-free programming that is repeated four times on a Providence UHF station, WFIT Channel 23.
"We're using it as an introduction to see what works, what doesn't work," associate producer Monique Smith said. "It's a great place for creativity."
In addition to interviews with set installers and ticket scratchers, the Lottery Channel has done stories on a Cranston truck driver who won a $34-million Powerball jackpot, a look at the video slot machine operation at Lincoln Greyhound Park, and a feature on how lottery ticket buyers choose their numbers.