Why take a Road Trip?

So I bet you are wondering, why do we at WCNC-TV broadcast a Road Trip only certain times of the year? Why is it not a part of our regular newscasts year round? And what is up with this Road Trip Extra starting a 4:30pm…thirty minutes before our regularly scheduled newscasts? All good questions, and hopefully I can shed some light on these posing questions. All questions that even we as employees ask ourselves in an attempt to re-affirm our commitment – or goals – when it comes to this major production.

So let us start with the first question…why broadcast the Road Trip on certain times of the year? Get ready for the million dollar answer to the multimillion dollar question, so buckle up! November is one of our four ratings period during the year – February, May, July, and November to be exact. We are in the business to bring content to our viewers in the hopes to gain a big enough audience to convince advertisers to pay us for ad time. But that is just the small picture, or the short term investment perspective.

I am a journalist not an MBA. The long term, bigger picture answer is simply this…we know that every television station in the market is promoting their television product in the hopes to also gain viewers. Even the biggest primetime shows are promoting to gain viewers during these monthly time periods. So, we are hoping to capitalize on those viewers clicking the remote to see something new and different, to gain someone that is willing to invest in a long term relationship with a quality news product. And now the bigger picture, we are on the biggest PR campaign a station can put together. We are out on the streets trying to meet our viewers, hoping that a one-on-one relationship will be yielded by some good ole fashion grass roots, city-to-city campaign.

So this leads me to the next question…why not put on the Road Trip year round??? Well, I go back to one of my earlier blog entries. We pull resources from many parts of WCNC-TV – from Special Projects, News, Production, Engineering, and Creative Services. We spend months getting ready for a month of broadcasts by planning and getting our regular jobs ahead so when we pull ourselves from our daily commitments, our station doesn’t fall apart! Our managers spend months and months budgeting, forecasting, promoting, and planning just to get ready for these month long campaigns. Logistically we would have to hire a staff to put this on every month of the year, so if you like the Road Show…you could email Belo Corporation to increase our budget for a staff to put this show on for your viewing pleasure!

And this leads to the final question, what is up with the Road Trip Extra starting at 4:30pm. Well, about a month ago…our regular 4:30pm show – A Current Affair – folded and went off the air. So we wanted to find a replacement that would be a good transition into our 5pm newscasts. So, we had already planned to do bring you the Road Trip for the month of November, well our brilliant minds decided to expand the Road Trip into a thirty minute show that would give you a better taste of each stop along the way.

So the point of this little thesis discussion is this…we want to find every opportunity to get out into the public to meet you – our audience. This is done in the hopes that we can forge more relationships while meeting our faithful viewers. This little discussion also provided perspective for our faithful crew…the reason why we are here, on the road. It isn’t about departmental territory, the ever present lighting discussion, or even who is working the hardest; it is about you the viewer! If we as the crew are creating a place where you as the viewer can enjoy a few minutes of fun, thought provoking content…then we have met our goal. See you tomorrow at 4:30pm…the Road Trip rolls on to the Merchandise Mart!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/why_take_a_road.html

Round-and-Round in Shelby…

Well, it was train rides and carrousels in the lovely town of Shelby so the merry-go-round continued as the second week of Road Trip was coming to a close. Before I begin, I would like to throw a little shout-out to the peeps of Shelby, the Road Trip loves some Shelby.

Let me tell you…when we showed up, – once again – they showed us why we continue to make an appearance in Shelby. The lunch they had waiting was phenomenal!!! We had salad with chicken and tangerines with this homemade vinaigrette dressing and the desserts were enough to make you slap your grandma they were so good! My mouth is still watering, because I am still fixated on the carrot cake, cheesecake topped with apples, and the chocolate cake that just melted in your mouth. I know we are supposed to be at Providence High School Friday, but the RV might be headed back to Shelby for some more good eats! Oh yeah, I am still driving the RV, they forgot how much they missed me navigating the Queen Empress! She is a lovely ship!

With all the fun and good food in Shelby, a true testament to our ability to function as a team was ever so present! Our faithful director, Mariano Archdeacon stormed out of Shelby just thirty minutes before the show. He received a phone call that every parent dreads…your child is sick and your spouse is on the way to the hospital with their loved one! Now, I do not normally like to talk about personal situations, but today I felt it was appropriate. Mariano’s little boy is okay, and they kept him overnight for observation. But this merry-go-round of a Road Trip is more than just a bunch of stops in different towns, it is family.

This crew has been working together ever since we started putting together these shows back in May of 2004. We laugh, cry, and fight together…but we are more than a team! We spend close to ten hours a day together, we all know how what makes the others tick. And if you take one of us out of the mix, it is like your best friend has gone on a trip without you! Our hearts were with Mariano as he raced back to Charlotte to be with his family. Mariano, this family was thinking of you and yours!

Many companies pair groups together for many reasons! They evaluate strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and experience…this Road Trip crew was crafted together because we have what it takes to put on a live broadcast for a month from close to twenty different locations. But, we mesh together and know how to jump in during crisis mode to help when one is pulled from the mix. Our audio expert jumped in to direct (punch the show), our engineering supervisor jumped in to run audio for the sixteen different microphones and the station provided broadcast support to make the show clean and fun! We missed you Mariano and our prayers were with you and your family when you left unexpectedly yesterday!

Our fun little merry-go-round continues at Providence High School Friday where we will be showcasing high school football playoffs. See you at 4:30pm “as the Road Trip Extra rolls on”…I stole that line from Chuck Howard!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/round-and-round.html

Introducing the Tray Cam…

November 9, 2005

Charlotte, NC – WCNC-TV and Belo Corporation would like to inform the public of their newest piece of technology, “Tray Cam”. “Tray Cam” was used for the first time in front of a live audience in Rock Hill, SC at the site of Ebenezer Grill.

It was used as a part of five camera, live television show entitled Road Show Extra. A wireless, lipstick size camera was attached to a serving tray (that was holding tasty fries and a chili dog), and was seen live when one of the hosts of the show delivered a plate of food to the other hosts. The most notable use of “Tray Cam” came when Mike Redding held “Tray Cam” in such a way that we could see Chris Justice remove fries from the red tray right into his mouth. This made for a picturesque view that brought the audience one step closer into the dimension of live television, almost to the point of scratch-and-sniff television.

“Tray Cam” was designed and developed by WCNC-TV’s Emmy Award winning Engineering Department. “When we were doing the sight survey at Ebenezer’s Grill, I was walking through the restaurant wondering how we could bring the audience closer to the action. Then I saw a lady delivering some fries and hot dog to a customer, and it cam to mind, let’s put a camera on a tray…’Tray Cam’”, stated Rick Grinstead – WCNC-TV Engineer. It is a tiny lipstick size camera attached to a wireless transmitter. This allows “Tray Cam” to wander anywhere – within a fifty foot range – and deliver hot tasty fries with a chili dog to a hungry customer and catch it live on television.

“Rick has been working for me for over ten years and I knew that his training and apprenticeship would pay off! I am about as proud as a boss and mentor could ever possibly imagine”, stated Steve Kiser – WCNC-TV Engineering Supervisor. Allison Andrews – Special Projects Manager – was excited with the new invention and knew it would play a tremendous role in the live production of Road Trip Extra, “When Rick came to me and said that he came up with ‘Tray Cam’, I was so excited…I couldn’t wait to add it to the show! It just made sense!”

WCNC-TV and its Emmy Award winning Engineering staff have been the authors of implementing new technology. This past May during the month long Road Trip Show, a new wireless transmitter was unveiled, COFDM. This piece of technology allowed for moving, – broadcast quality – live pictures and sound to be transmitted from distance of up to a couple of miles. It was first unveiled during a stop at Tweetsie Railroad. Chris Justice opened the show live while riding on the engine of the train as it was moving around the mountain. “WCNC-TV prides itself with coming up with new ways for our audiences to watch the news”, stated Jim Alvarez – WCNC-TV Operations Manager.

”Tray Cam” and all the many technological breakthroughs can be seen daily during the month of November on WCNC-TV’s Road Show Extra starting at 4:30pm.
See the amazing “Tray Cam” in action.

Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/introducing_the.html

Tour of the new arena – Bobcat Style

So let me tell you, man did I sleep good Wednesday night. I think I was in bed around 9:30 p.m., and for good reason. Our stop at Bobcats Arena was a doozy, that place is huge! Like any major sports arena, it took close to two hours just to get clearance to get inside the place to do the show! Our contact, Jamie ???? – I’m sorry I can’t remember your last name- had everything set-up and ready to go. But, you know how it is when each security guard needs to flex their muscles and justify their salary.

I think we moved our transmission truck at-least four times to suit the likes of Allied Security. And when we finally got access, we were having trouble getting power to our production truck. It is always that one connector you think you have, but hope you never forget… well, it was a simple power turn around connector that was creating a sense of stress. Thanks to the Bobcats’ Operations Staff, we were able to bring you full access to the arena.

The arena was absolutely awesome! The people who designed this place thought of everything when it comes to a modern venue to enjoy professional athletics. Where do I begin… well, the main entrance I suppose. When you walk in the front door, you immediately feel some sense of tradition in place that has not experienced professional athletics for an extended period of time. There is artwork covering all the walls featuring local and state athletes. Towering pieces that keep your neck bent while coming up the main escalator. And when you get to the main lobby – on the main level – you notice the floor has these interesting designs that make no sense what-so-ever.

Well, until you put your mind into a basketball mode. Yep, leave all your worries and stresses at the door, because what you are looking at is a bouncing pattern as if someone was bouncing a basketball across the floor. As you follow the bounces around the concourse and make your way to your seat, you notice…every seat in the place is great. You feel like you are actually are on top of the floor. There are seats that are set-up like a bar where you can sit, eat, and watch a LCD monitor of the game or any other sporting event.

If you venture up to the top, there is a place for parents and kids to hang-out. Dads, imagine a place where you can take your kids to watch a basketball game while they hang in a “kids area”. You can get a drink at the bar, let the kids play, and watch the game…”Honey, can I take the kids out again tonight???” And here is my favorite part, let’s just hope I can describe this technological luxury appropriately, there is an antennae that was built around the circumference of the arena that can provide data to watch video on your PDA or cell phone. You can even rent bandwidth on this antenna to provide data and information to people. Pretty cool… I wish I understood all the details.

And let us not forget that there are actual sit-down restaurants in the arena. This section of the arena is called the 333. It is not just your burgers, hotdogs, and pretzel type of place; it’s a full scale restaurant to enjoy some great delicacies before the big game. Man, I could talk about food all day! Not enough time because we are off to Rock Hill today, Ebenezer’s Grill. From restaurant to restaurant, the Road Trip has got you covered. It is going to be fun to get all of our equipment into this tiny restaurant. We have to be there early so that we can have everything complete before the lunch crowd arrives. See you there!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/tour_of_the_new.html

How about an Apprentice or two for the Road Trip?

I was wondering what would happen if the next project for the Apprentice would be to put on a Road Trip Show for WCNC-TV. Could you imagine replacing our crew (outside of the talent – Chris, Sonya, Terri, Chuck, and Mike) with the Apprentice cast? The task would be specific, choose a location to put on the Road Show and the crew that has the most viewers wins! Haaaaa, they would SINK! It would be like last week’s episode where the group that put together a baseball display at Dick’s Sporting Goods and actually brought sales down by thirty-four percent. But the best part about this idea is that the process that would un-fold while preparing, directing, producing and actually shooting live television would make for some GREAT TV!

I can just see the debacle that would un-fold. One group would come-up with some lame idea for a stop that would sound good in the planning room but would be plain out boring television. I can see it now; they would choose a nature preserve with beautiful wildlife. A place where families and elementary schools come for an education experience…and no one shows up, and all they are left with is a room full of boring experts! In between the uhmmms and uhhs you could here the clicking of the remote control. CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.

The other group would probably choose a cool idea like a sporting event. This would actually be the best one for television, not because of the idea but because it would be a logistical nightmare! They would have ten different places to showcase and not enough cable to reach…only if the cable gods were with them that day! Oh…they would drag out the cable, but bust there butts trying to get from the interview of a coach on the floor to the interview with general manager in the suite. I can see that one camera, running with cable attached, up a huge flight of stairs and bust while running through the stands. Then you would see the project manager in the production truck screaming on their headset while Carolyn is in the background shaking her head, not trying to laugh. This could be great television.

And at the end of the day, they would go to the board room and the group that covered the sporting event would obtain a bigger audience, and the Donald would look at the other group and ask, “Whose idea was it to choose the Nature Preserve?” He would then say, “Even I know great TV, and that is not definitely great TV! YOU’RE ALL FIRED!!! As for the winning group, you all get one night stay in the lovely accommodations provided by Tom Johnson’s RV. You will be eating exquisite BBQ while sitting on leather chairs covered with purple lips, and have either moon-pies or oatmeal cream pies for desert. Go Enjoy!!!”

Well, let me tell you that last night was great TV at the Pep Rally in Matthews. Two sides with dueling bands and dueling cheerleaders! There was lots of action including two cheerleader teams trying to out acrobat each other. I was just waiting for one those girls to face plant into the asphalt. Well, apparently you – our viewers – thought it was great TV because a lot more of you tuned in to check out the spectacle! Well, tune in today at 4:30pm for Road Trip Extra as we head to the Furniture Mart in Hickory, and for those of you in Hickory…come on out for the largest furniture sale in North Carolina!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/how_about_an_ap.html

What is up with these Renaissance people?

So we have only completed three Road Trip stops and my new running shoes have already taken some war wounds!

Allison Andrews (our leader and trusty producer) is getting the most for her money on this pair. I got these grey ASICS (with orange strips – of course) on sale for 40 bucks! They are just as comfortable as the $100 ones…and have orange! As you can tell I like the color orange. It stems from younger years growing up in Clemson. And to keep from stirring up the family gossip, I went to Clemson over Auburn. Well, it helps the decision when you have a scholarship and get to work in sports for your college career. My blood runneth orange!

Anyways, Wednesday night was quite the affair…from Terri pulling up her pant leg to get an ankle tattoo, to Mike starting a rope fire for some crazy dude to walk across. And don’t forget the “Tomato Justice” where everyone was throwing tomatoes at some wacky dude behind a wall. (Click here to watch the show) What is up with these Renaissance people and their pre-historic antics? We should have put Chris behind the wall for the “Tomato Justice”…renamed as “Chris’s Tomato Justice”. Then everyone could have belted him with a tomato for a little justice on Chris Justice. I didn’t tell that joke to well. I always screw up the punch line.

Click here for photos from the show.

So my question is why we didn’t we see Mike walk up the fiery rope. I mean, he put his life on the line the night before by being catapulted in the air by the crazy Russians at the big top of Cirque du Soleil. It took them two tries to throw him in the air and make him land on the platform. I think the Russians sabotaged the event by releasing him early and making him crash onto the side of the platform. They just didn’t want to get out done by a “Broadcaster.” Anyways, since Mike was eager enough to get thrown, why not try to walk up the rope of fire? I am sure he has great balance and it would make for great television…imagine the host of the Carolina Traveler walking the fiery rope. It’s like walking the plank. Come on Mike, step up to the plate…is that all you have to offer? I am sure Allison was thinking…what would it take to get Mike on the rope? Maybe Mike has a “no fiery rope walking” clause in his contract, WCNC needs to renegotiate.

Well, Thursday night I am sure we will deliver some good television. Just imagine, thousands of screaming, hormone induced high schoolers putting on a Pep Rally for television. I am going to wear my special swat gear just in case I get trampled, because all they want is TO BE ON TV! We will be in Matthews at the Town Hall for the Independence/Butler pep rally…the game is Friday night. Butler might just knock off the Mighty Independence??? Tune in for Chuck’s thoughts! I look forward to seeing everyone. I am glad we are confined to the asphalt parking lot of Town Hall, may be my new orange stripped ASICS might get a rest…nope, if Allison has anything to do with it!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/what_is_up_with.html

When things go wrong…

So it just felt like when those final seconds ticked off the clock and sense of relief calms your nerves, a victory.

You wonder how a W in the win column happened after three interceptions, four fumbles, and negative rushing yards. I guess it falls on good ole fashion defense and gut check that allowed you to remember, your experience will take over. And it will be the overriding fundamental that keeps the administration and fans happy, the win…the one thing that makes the disgusting road to victory seem irrelevant. It’s just a win no matter how it happened.

Tuesday will be a day to remember. For our viewers, no one probably noticed the sense of panic and frustration that was the underlying irrelevance of a clean show. The fact of the matter is, well…we didn’t go to black, no one said an inappropriate line, and a camera didn’t crash to the ground. Mike was just as funny as always, Sonja’s calm demeanor was ever so present, Terri once again found a solution, and Chuck stretched his RV tour like a true sports anchor! As our leader and road mom, Allison Andrews felt the most stress as she could not communicate to her talent during the ‘pick your favorite microphone’ scenario continued until…until…well, until…ONE FINALLY WORKED! Good ole fashion wireless technology coupled with the same mind set when you forget where you set your keys, except this time the keys are actually microphones. Oh, by the way…we only have less than a second to get the right microphone so someone could talk, LIVE! Did I ever mention I love live TV!

And when the debacle was over, we still looked clean on air and the average viewer at home probably didn’t even know it happened. And if they did, they probably thought it was scripted and it made for great television. We walked away, wondering how we got the W…and still tried to figure out how the microphones got mixed up! We were quiet, no one blaming anyone but ourselves, wondering how we fueled this flame. And like a true head coach, our trusty leader took us into our own personal locker room (the RV) and proceeded to do what all great head coaches do…explain the night’s events and reassure us that we are a team, we worked well as a team, and we prevailed as a team…and when it comes down to it, the show must go on!

What was it that brought on the strange karma? Was it the purple lip sheets used to protect the leather in the RV? Was it the fact that the sun is setting differently, or was it that I haven’t even touched the Moon Pies yet and focused solely on the oatmeal cream pies? I think it was none of the above, the planets lined up perfectly Tuesday night to actually collide. And no matter how hard we worked, we couldn’t get the people Mike was trying interview – with the multiple microphones – to speak English. Cirque du Soleil is staffed with predominately French speaking people, since the show is based out of Canada.

The bottom line is this, a win is a win and the show went well! And only the staff of the Road Show will have stories to tell, but to the audience and the managers…it’s a good ole fashion victory. Wednesday’s kickoff is 4:30 pm at the Renaissance Festival, and the Road Show Extra show will begin a new day’s challenge!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/when_things_go.html

On the road again…

Can you believe it is November, it seems like yesterday we were at Lake Wylie for our last Road Trip stop this past May.

Well, I could definitely tell it had been a few months since we had gotten together to put on a show for everyone. As you know, we have added Road Trip Extra, our 30 minute show before our regularly scheduled newscast. It was a new challenge…one that I am glad we spent much thought in our meetings.
What you guys and gals don’t realize is that every photographer has to be mobile to bring you all our hosts (Chris, Sonja, Terri, Chuck, & Mike) from different spots within our location.

For instance, at the beginning of the show Monday, two photographers had to shoot the opening with Chris, introducing us to Baxter. One wide shot – set the scene shot – and one on Chris. After Chris was done with his introduction, one of those photographers had to breakdown and head 50 yards away with Terri to bring you the weather in front on the Baxter Town Hall. This “re-organization” has to happen in less than two minutes. Fun, huhh? Now imagine that scenario for a whole two hours…a lot of tangled cable and worn out legs! Well, since it has been six months since last Road Trip, it took us a little while to get back in to the swing of things! Click here for photos from Baxter.

Well, Tuesday we will be a Cirque du Soleil in Concord for their Varekai performance, all starting at 4:30. It is going to be fun and a bit challenging for the Road Trip Crew to put on a show under the big top…see you there!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/on_the_road_aga.html

Road Trip Preps

So here we go again, the Road Trip continues in November. All of the meetings are complete, supplies have been bought, and the distinguishing long sleeve Road Trip shirts have been handed out, light blue I might add.

The only question now is, I wonder if the higher powers have decided between Oatmeal Cream Pies or Moon Pies as the snack item for the RV? I voted to for both! TV people need to properly nourished for a long days work. We are putting on a two hour show starting at 4:30 pm. Remember to tune in early!

Now to the “behind the scenes stuff”! I think we have spent more time grimacing over the fact that sun is going to be setting a lot quicker during the month of November.

Did everyone remember to set their clocks back? That extra hour of sleep was quite nice! Anyways, since the sun is setting earlier, this means more lights, more work, and more needed room in the Ryder truck for all this extra equipment.

Oh…by the way, I think I have been demoted from driving the fully decked RV to driving the Ryder truck that hauls all of the equipment. I wonder who is the lucky Road Tripper that gets to enjoy the exquisite accommodations that Tom Johnson RV has provided? I would say they are liven LARGE!

Back off my tangent, both (RV and the Ryder truck along with rest of WCNC caravan) are driven daily to all the locations. The RV has all the snacks, cozy recliners, queen size bed, and get this…granite countertops. WOW! The only accommodation left that a 6NEWS Road Tripper might want is a washer and dryer. Oh yeah…it has that too! Click here to take a look at the RV. It will give you an idea where all of the decisions are made and the plan is masterfully created for your viewing pleasure!

Well, I hope that I will see everyone in Baxter tonight. Halloween is always a big hit in that neighborhood. Bring a jacket and the Halloween spirit. I’m bringing a new pair of running shoes; since I am one of the Road Trip Photographers…we are always running all over the place to get the best shots. Come out and watch all the running!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/10/road_trip_preps.html

Reflections from Baton Rouge

Hello All from Baton Rouge,

So my time here in Louisiana is coming to a close. There is a possibility that I will be back in a week, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to take part in the effort here with Belo Corp and WWL. I am not sure if most of you know what is actually taking place here in Baton Rouge, so hopefully I can shed a little bit of light.

WCNC is here in Baton Rouge to take part in a relief effort for our sister station WWL-TV. I am sure if you are looking at our web site, you have been watching WWL-TV’s twenty-four hour newscast as it is streamed. Belo Corporation owns thirteen television stations across the country, all of which have unloaded their workforce to help maintain the staffing for WWL-TV. The staff of WWL-TV were also victims of this terrible disaster, most – is not all – are working while trying to figure out what their next step is personally. Most of have lost homes, friends but Belo Corporation has made sure that they will not loose their jobs! We have had reports that the Fox Station here in New Orleans told its employees right before Katrina hit New Orleans that they will probably not have a job and Fox will probably not continue broadcasting. They lost homes, friends, and their jobs in one swift moment, and the storm had not even hit.

It is amazing the commitment that Belo has provided for the WWL-TV staff and all the members of all the stations from all over the country that are here to help make sure WWL stays on the air. We were told that WWL-TV is being watched on all the PBS stations across Louisiana and most of Texas. WWL-TV is also being carried by CBS Network. Since WWL-TV’s newscast is streamed on the web, all Belo’s websites are providing that stream and close to 15 million people a day are accessing this information. We as Belo employees and WWL-TV employees and we fell the same since of commitment that Belo carries to make sure that the people of Louisiana have a place to access information through this horrific tragedy.

We are broadcasting out of PBL in Baton Rouge (the PBS Station for Louisiana) so we essentially have three newsrooms in one (WWL-TV staff, other Belo Stations Staff, and PBL Staff), working around the clock to keep the operation running. Belo just yesterday shipped in more food, office supplies, computers, video tape, and most importantly a portable gas station. We have also been provided apartments for our staff to have a place to lay their heads down for a short period of time before working another shift. I feel like I have a since of commonality with these people, and will miss their conversation. Everyday I meet a new person, see a new place, and hear not only the horrifying stories of this tragedy but the warm stories of triumph that emerge when seems grim.

Good Bless this place, these people, and the commitment to the audience that depends on the broadcast of WWL.

Bobby Rettew

Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/09/reflections_fro.html

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