Tag Archives: Airchecks by Others

How To Use Kicka– Automation, Example 98, WABC-TV (from 2012!)

The WABC-TV people are really intune to their audience. the Eyewitness News theme package – with this update going as far back as 22 years ago, still sounds great. it was one of Frank Gari’s last major fingerprint in a theme package. Very Northeast. Very New York. Anything that has pop, rock or teeny bopper sounds would never fly. Leave it to the California Disney cluster to play out.

Around 2012, WABC-TV was next station in the Disney/ABC group to go to automation, at the time using Grass Valley’s Ignite as WPVI in Philly had began a workflow in 2008/09 when they built their new facility at the time. This means the “control room” is really controlled by a Windows PC, and its mostly dependent on scripting out the litteral aspects of news production and the timing. I landed across a video earlier today indicating that this workflow was completely scrapped just going to another vendor, Ross.

How Jimmy Kimmel Live  would appear on TVs across the NY Tristate area, was the last block to Eyewitness News at exactly 11:34:20*, the Vizrt CG, would display the NYS Lottery numbers, for roughly 20 seconds, call up Camera 2 (we’ll call it that for the center camera) for a few seconds, open up Bill and Sade’s mic, then automatically switch to the city cam zooming out of WABC-TV’s streetside studio, fade to black, then have the off site Master Control handoff to the network.

*because the closing cut to the theme runs at minute-four, and if you subtract the end to where it starts… you can see how you can script this very well.

I suspect this was a Timed Macro Event or TME that is cued into the then Ignite system they had. The Technical Director would ensure they would press the butt at 11:34:20 so it could play out properly so it could transition to Jimmy Kimmel seamlessly.

This close despite having a sample cut on my iOS devices, and sure the anchors talk near the end… the idea of running 40 seconds of theme music every night and the close has a static sequence that doesn’t fail, and this YouTube was from 2012, and seeing the very same sequence of TMEs in 2017 when I stayed in Manhattan that fall, is pretty damn good.

If stations could allow some number of braintrust, maybe automation wouldn’t look so bad… yes I am talking to you WCVB-TV off 128! 😀

R.I.P. WGBH-TV’s TOCN: Where’s Marcus Jones?

I’ve been busy like a spring bee, buzzing around in my workspace to produce some content. (Another post)

But I have access to my MacBook and YouTube, and one overnight where I didn’t get sleep, I did a literal search for some of the on camera people of WGBH’s Ten O’ Clock News. In fact some of the earlier embeds was from a YouTube channel I ran into, and it turns out that same YouTube channel is Marcus Jones…

This guy circa 1987

After a quick verification and a gratitude of your humble news gathering hobbyist, he left a lengthy reply last Wednesday after your’s truly asked about his professional whereabouts… so below is his reply (some is edited for formatting and for ease of reading).

Dear Steven…For about a year after the cancellation of the TOCN, I worked part-time editing show open videos for “The Group” on WGBH-TV. “The Group” filled in for the TOCN for awhile before “Greater Boston” came along. In August of 1992, I began a 2-year run as anchor and news director of Lowell Cable Television’s nightly “NewsCenter 6” cablecast. I also did freelance reporting for FOX 25, New England Cable News, and WBZ-TV’s “Eyewitness News” from 1993 to 1995. For a brief period in late 1994, I even did fill-in lecturing in broadcast journalism classes at Northeastern University. In May of 1995, I moved to the Washington, DC area to become the main weekday reporter covering the District for Newschannel 8.

Through the years, since relocating to the National Capital Area, I’ve done various freelance reporting, videography, and video editing for smaller county cable operations and for my own projects.

As my young son progressed through the public school system in Prince William County, Virginia, I transitioned into the field of administrative support, as well. For more than a decade, I served vice presidents, executive directors, even the town treasurer, in roles such as executive assistant, special assistant and deputy. With what little spare time I had during this period, I also mentored and instructed aspiring high school journalists from 1996 to 2008 through the Urban Journalism Workshop program sponsored by the Washington Association of Black Journalists. I’m pleased and proud to say several of those young people are now working journalists in markets throughout the country. In 2004, I contributed to the “The Tom Joyner Morning (Radio) Show” as a DC correspondent for BlackAmericaWeb.com. In 2010, I added webmaster to my quiver when I launched an affinity site featuring classmates from my generation at Boston University. The site has been the catalyst for numerous reunions and other alumni events and activities.

In 2012, I became, and remain, an active YouTube Content Creator. My most popular channel is VideoCollectables. The channel has more than 230 news, event and human interest videos available (many more to come), collectively more than 103 million content views, currently 150,000 channel subscribers, and growing, and an audience which includes every continent and notable island nation on the planet. VideoCollectables is highly rated by SocialBlade.com and tracked as an influencer channel by Noxinfluencer.com.

I do appreciate the last paragraph (boldface is emphasized by your’s truly)

But, enough about me, your message reminded me of a significant upcoming anniversary. I have mentioned to some of my colleagues from the TOCN, we should cobble together a video memoir reflecting on our experiences with the TOCN. I haven’t given up on the notion – which is why I fully endorse and encourage your project to memorialize what all of us, to a man and a woman, agree was the best news job we ever had.


R.I.P. WGBH’s TOCN: Commercial Compeitors as Subjects

I won’t say the packages that aired on WGBH’s Ten O’ Clock News was inherently a hit-job to Channels 4, 5 or 7 and 56 for the time; I’d say the tone of the stories on the local commercial media was mildly jealous?

This story was on if the local media (Boston, that is) that reports negative crime stories in certain neighborhoods would reflect that said locale badly as a whole. I think it’s a no-brainer for confirming such theory.

In the 1988 First in the Nation Primary, Channel 2 sent their crew to follow CBS News’ setup up here. The audience of the PBS world is a bit different than the commercial world; meaning that most average viewers who consumed commercial broadcast media at the time; kinda knew the behind the scenes and many of the PBS type of viewers still thought news was still “filmed”. I’m just speculating, since the story was in a way “educating” those very upper crust people how the news is produced, while us lower end peeps just know or just do it.

This package around 1989 was on the subject of local weather on commercial TV. While TOCN did do a weather segment in the form of a text based Chyron of the next 36 hours; following the live on set interviews before either anchor would walk back to the anchor desk, around 18 after; this package seemed to show what it was like to prep for a weather piece for that time.

Obviously this was for apparent big-weather events, like coldsnaps, blizzards and snowstorms, and those once in a generation hurricanes like Gloria in 1985 and Bob, just a few months after the end of the program in August of 1991, and the no-name hurricane in Halloween of that same year.

30something years later, “Weather” is the very reason why I do not watch local news. The weather department for a lot of ways was fused into the news department, and the news is dependent on even trivial events like downpours. WCVB these days love to promote “we are following the timing for your weekend/morning commute.” If it impacts my life or property (like a random unpredicted thunderstorm) you better damn well put it on the a-block!

Interesting the reporters at Channel 2 had guts to interview lower average people for those man on the street interviews. I suspect given how big the Boston market is, and how say Middlesex County as a whole has more people than the residents of Boston, that most people who lived in Boston then and as they do today, are not in tune to the average media consumer. With the no-answers on the weather guys in 1988 should say a lot!

In 1990, a woman named Pamela Smart had an underage student of the school she worked for kill her husband. Described by Christopher Lydon as “quaint” Derry, N.H… I am not sure if that should be taken as a complement or an insult. I turned 4 when the trial took place and this story didn’t just impact Manchester, but the Boston media as well. TOCN had even gave the alleged-star reporter Bill Spencer at WMUR-TV in Manchester face-time, as he had plenty of face-time across national programs like Geraldo‘s daytime talk show, and Bill O’Reilly’s Inside Edition.

Other reporters did MOS (really teenagers) closer to home, and it’s interesting how school age students could have a voice before FERPA, over protective mama bears, and other privacy policies forced no cameras allowed to easily tape students, especially giving them a voice when the 90s came to a close.

I cannot confirm if this was the only time WGBH ran with this story; but for the competition this was one of their first wall-to-wall stories they carried live and uninterrupted. Channel 9 OTTH had even the audacity to do a nightly recap of the events. I also felt in the Boston area, the Pamela Smart events gave them the open license to cover any sex or standard crime without any careful editorial judgement. Don’t read me wrong, I’ve done stories on BCOP-TV, that was completely more edgier and kinkier, but it never ran at the top of the A-block at 6:00. Some of those crazy sex stories would be at the end or somewhere in the B-block. Anyways back to “reality” I have suspected that after the trial, for WMUR-TV, they would cover any sex or murder story or trials that followed in almost a very raw and special-snowflake type of coverage, for decades after.

I actually know someone who once knew Pamela Smart professionally, I can see both sides to the coverage and what happened. She’s guilty of the crime, but the specific details is where both the Manchester and Boston press went too far, and that’s where the sensationalism began, and the facts got lost. Ironically, given what Bill Spencer had acted, that I suspect after this trial, he hadn’t been seen on local TV since. I don’t ever recall seeing him. I recommend that people watch the 2013 HBO documentary on the trial, and how the subjects indicted the media; which I would concur. 

Howie Carr and Christopher Lydon – Boston’s Oddest News Bros?

I actually frame this as one of my most obsessive subjects that I don’t have an answer to. How in the hell could one of public media’s most respective personalities be friends with one of the most trashiest people on the AM band of area radio? Also why is there no video airchecks of Howie Carr as a reporter at WNEV (pre WHDH Ch 7), WGBH or heck even WLVI? I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but I suspected the way Howie Carr has been a populist-conservative sell-out since late 2014, that his WRKO days (late 90s to late 2014) was more of a stick to be a center-right, and the present days and his days before WRKO was his true self.

Continue reading Howie Carr and Christopher Lydon – Boston’s Oddest News Bros?

R.I.P. WGBH-TV – The Ten O’Clock News – “Chyron” Package – 1987

In remembering the ol newscast for a flagship-grade PBS station, WGBH got more competitive in it’s looks department. The station chose TV by Design (TVbD) in Atlanta, and John Christopher Burns was the main artist for the package. In it’s history, this was the lone Chyron/animation package ever to be used, as the late 80s, a computer art; meeting broadcast was becoming more fused.

I am unsure for the lower thirds of the talent if it came off the Chyron Scribe or keyed on still frame on video tape. For all intensive purposes, any type of animations was like CGI meeting a green screen. Typically opens and other elements had a hard color that like a green screen, could be “keyed”. Therefore the open could wipe, blend in to video. Even in the early days of animation PC or Mac apps like After Effects, it had to be transferred to tape to be “rendered”. Stations would have a dedicated tape deck, and with some magic of automation, the tape player would cue up to a certain time code and also loop the video if necessary. This was a standard operating practice up until things could either playout natively or the ability to play out QuickTime video clips straight out of the graphics box. In short CGIs on TV news designed by computers were not played out by very same machines till very recently.

I suspected the lower thirds of talents was in the similar vein, basically a full sized image, with black or green colors canceling out the explicit pixels to show (the letters and graphics), because the “Channel 2” logo was too high of a resolution for a Chyron to handle. While a Chyron for the time could support an internal paint program, the logos or bugs were very low bit in quality – look at WNEVs crappy “Radar 7” logo used for the lower thirds till the Sunbeam buyout by 1993.

At some point between 1988 to it’s May 1991 cancelation, the lower thirds for the reporters featuring the high resolution Channel 2 logo was removed, but the multi color line and name space remained intact.

The animation package will be it’s own post because there’s an interesting connection with the style and looks to Apple Computer, Inc. documentation for the time.


Insider Clips – WGBH’s TOCN – 1988 (Producer Leaves)

Some Betacam tapes, if played on a Digital Betacam with a Firewire connection that is exposed to a computer application capable of digitization could have the potential to be posted online (like Bill O’Reilly’s tirade closing out an early 1990s Inside Edition that was one of the first viral YouTube videos way back? :))  I love when this happens!

I call these “Insider Clips” typically video that’s shot with the newsroom gear that is shown for the staff, often for people who depart and years go by and it becomes public. I’ve seen this in other stations and on YouTube. While this was shot I was just a year old , inside jokes and jabs are easy to interpret and understand, because most newsrooms have the same challenges and advantages, and workloads.

Anyways, that intro aside, a producer for WGBH’s Ten O’ Clock News was leaving to another career opportunity, so the production team did a 13 minute tape. The production is low-fi in quality – even for 1988 standards, because they didn’t have much graphics outside the Chyron – if there was a Paintbox, it might’ve been for their national shows instead. In one example you see it start with very cheesy WGBH ID (the ones you normally see on the start of a PBS show) without “Boston Presents” it has “HELP” instead.  Another soundbite chopped in was signature sounder for the funding spots for Nova at the time (in the frame where you see the tornado.)  You can tell they were slapping a lot of things quickly, because the rest of the clips are the goodbyes from 3 1/2 minutes in. The sarcasm of David Boreri at that point in was hilarious.

a screengrab from an internal video from 1988
“I gotta go. We got to cover this big mouth!” – David Boeri

Once upon a time when WGBH was based at 125 Western Avenue in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, the building was really interesting. I did get an opportunity to volunteer there in their last year at the location. I never got a chance to see the front of the building and the infamous WGBH neon logo lit up at the front door. I don’t think this moved to Brighton, and sadly the logo had changed last year.

I did go across the footbridge for the event I volunteered and again the building hadn’t changed much by 2006, but I do know a WGBH logo in blue color was placed on the front sides of the footbridge if you were passing by on Western Avenue by car. The size was similar to the one the sides of the building right before the front door.