* You asked for it, you got it. Let’s take a tour of NBC5, shall we? (Click each picture to enlarge)
Welcome to the NBC5 garage. This is what I see when I enter the bowels of the NBC tower. We have a fairly huge fleet of news trucks. My path carries me past those stop signs. At this point in my day, I usually power down my iPod and wonder why I spent four years in college to work janitor’s hours.
When the elevator doors open, you’re greeted by a wall filled with NBC5 luminaries. I give the station props, because whenever someone leaves the team, their picture vanishes immediately. I wonder if there’s a trap door behind each picture. Or maybe they self-destruct.
You’ll note there are no pictures of producers. We homely few are not worth the camera’s gaze.
My favorite picture is Charlie Wojciechowski’s high school yearbook photo. Lookin’ sharp, young Charlie!
Several hours after I arrive, the stories have been chosen, written and edited. That’s when the magic begins. (By “magic,” I mean “newscast.”) This picture shows you what the people at our assignment desk get to see. They’re the shadowy figures who roam the background of our studio shots. Look past our anchors and you’ll see three robotic cameras, each with a teleprompter attached. You did know the anchors don’t just make this stuff up, right? The cameras also have clocks and monitors below the lenses. If you look closely below and to the left of Zoraida, you’ll notice Arch-Nemesis Producer Jim’s head. See the sinister look in his eyes as he cooks up another scheme to swindle me out of donuts.
Here’s a view of the set you rarely get to see. In the foreground, notice one of the three robotic cameras. They’ve gotten pretty temperamental since HAL-9000 took over. You’ll also notice a big green wall to the left. That’s where Andy stands to deliver his forecast.
And in this final picture, you’ll see HAL-9000 in all his glory. Our ace director, Des, has to keep tabs on every little thing on all of those screens. This is the control room. The crew and I sit in there as the show rolls on. On those screens, we can see the teleprompter, the upcoming video tapes and graphics, the shots from all three cameras, any incoming feeds from our reporters in the field, the competitors’ channels, and a few million other bits of information. It’s enough to make your skull collapse.
So when I say that HAL-9000 has a mind of his own, you can get an idea of how hard it is to anticipate his moves. With so much to keep track of, anything can fall through the cracks. One false move, and the show can slam to a screeching halt.
My job during the show is to keep us on pace to finish exactly at 4:56:00 a.m. In a perfect world, we’d hit that time exactly. You have to do that with most newscasts, since there are other programs that will start after yours whether you’re ready or not.
Thankfully, we have another newscast following mine, so if the anchors ad lib about that wonderful turkey sandwich they had the previous night, I can just tell the 5 a.m. producer we’re coming to her heavy. Conversely, if last night’s turkey sandwich is sitting in the anchor’s stomach like a lead balloon, and they’re not particularly talkative, I can toss a little extra time into the 5 a.m. show. But the goal is to get out by that time exactly. A good anchor knows that, and will help you by calibrating his turkey sandwich-based anecdotes to take the precise amount of time.
So those are the key locales in the newsroom. Curious about some other part of the station? Need pictures of something else? Drop a comment and I’ll take my camera where angels fear to tread.
* Zoraida said we’d have a link to the space sasquatch on our website, so I’m obliged to follow through.
* No one brought me free food today. I wept openly for the majority of my shift.
* Dennis Kucinich will drop out of the race for president today. Dream big in 2012, Dennis!
* Yesterday sleepy time traffic, who may or may not be someone I work with, suggested De Niro will play Drew Peterson in the movie version of his life story. My pick for the lawyer? Mark Ruffalo. He looks nothing like Joel Brodsky, but Mark Ruffalo is in everything these days. He’s not any good, but I think studios are contractually obligated to include him. Maybe he’s a CEO’s nephew or something. I’ve seen better acting on “Unsolved Mysteries” re-enactments.
* Today, Executive Producer Wendy offered an interesting and unsolicited opinion: “They say donkeys can only hold so much weight. Yeah, right.” I turn to Wendy for all my load-bearing animal facts.
* Scientists say we’re close to creating artificial life. What could possibly go wrong?