Tag Archives: WBZ-TV

The AutoCam Invasion in Boston, early 1990s

The recession of the 1980s into the early 90s pushed media companies to economize. The Massachusetts economy had it worse than some other places. AutoCam was made by TSM at the time. The  pedestal had this sculpture look. There was Radamec, and Vinten. All three are supported by Vinten as they bought TSM and merged with Radamec a few years later.

 WBZ-TV 1991

WBZ channel 4 was one of the first of the market to get AutoCam. They used standard ENG cameras to shoot.

WCVB-TV 1993/94

When the new set for the 90s came along in 1993, they were the next station. They had the black colored pedestals. Chronicle taught New Englanders this new technology in the behind the scenes of NewsCenter 5 in 1994

on the 25th anniversary special of the station, they had shot taped interviews, notably one from a competing station. That scene showed the AutoCam but not the boxy looking Ikgami, they switched to ENG cameras too. Ironically these bots are controlled via  hard wired connections to a computer. The camera is fed as a pass through for a touch panel monitor to trigger automated shots. The computer is the brain, and the “brain” controls the motors. The bots are dumb. Why I say this? When WCVB switched to HD, they kept ol peds, but put full HD cameras and new computer, but all the intelligence was fully backwards compatible. some stations like CBS’ Sacramento station still had these ol devices as late as 2018… but modern controllers and HD cams.

WHDH-TV 1991

it was likely that WHDH Channel 7 was the first to go to one person robotics. The station was loosing a lot of money because of the said recession and to pay off the once principal owner Bob Kraft… ironically the following year after the sale of WHDH properties, did Kraft buy the New England Patriots… you wonder if there’s a correlation.

but whoever was managing the station kept the station low fi. Sets were modified off the shelf furniture… maybe the newsroom for Live at Five was the best. But the cameras that tied into the  TSM AutoCam was the RCA-TK46. They were high tech for the time…in the early 1980s. These used tubes to capture pictures in studio. When a tube would go on the fritz, the picture would look blurry. These weren’t  as efficient like the TK-47 even those were used up till the mid 1990s. Supposedly these cameras had been purported in comments on other socials to not last for long.

But the stations blue on white branding was perfect to throw on the TK46 camera’s blue on white color scheme.

The average height of a robotic pedestal at full stow is 60″ most studios often have the cameras low for that “10 pound” factor. But the Tk46 against the AutoCam made the setup even monstrous  as the station allowed the press to come in April 1993 to announce the sale to Sunbeam Broadcasting

Both Channels 5 and 7 had one or two in their newsroom as a secondary set. WCVB and WHDH today have moved onto the Vinten’s Fusion which combines the brains of Vinten and Radamec’s approaches to automatic movement. WBZ did go to the next generation AutoCam under Vinten; the SP-2000 X-Y but CBS standardized with the 5th grade science project known as CamBot aprox in 2016.

WLVI didn’t go robotic and their manual pedestals were really outdated. WFXT went with Fox’s preferred Radamec pedestals when they did news again in 1996. However in March of 1992, the  launch of New England Cable News, they were on AutoCam from the start. The 1989 vintage continued to be in use at NECN until 2010, when they went to SP 2000 and then went to Fusion just as NBCU took managerial control. In 2020, the Fusion pedestals didn’t move to Needham, but maybe got repurposed at 30 Rock…


SUV Crashes in Mass’ South Coast Apple Store, WBZ-TV’s I-Team Kicks in…

Excuse me while I cringe…

First off, Apple Stores are mostly in malls or in exterior buildings in big cities. Sometimes Apple Stores are spotted to have outside entry in suburbs in places like in the Bay Area, but I was surprised that in Hingham, Massachusetts,  is one of those Apple Stores that you can enter from a parking lot, and not have to through the mall.

As of this writing, an employee of the store is one of those where were killed, and 16 other individuals are injured. It’s safe to make some assumption that Apple employee was likely the front person like you see at all the other Apple Stores…

But WBZ-TV decided to use their branded enterprise journalism units to dig deeper, because the curiosity of an SUV driver driving into the signature glass of the store needed more info.

The I-Team dates back to the days when Channel 4 was once owned by Westinghouse’s broadcast division, and when Joe Bergantino was the lead of the unit, and had a decorative career at Boston’s Channel 4. But like many of the CBS O&Os, it’s known to be the Cheaply Run division of the ol Tiffany Network. For one thing the founder of CBS Bill Paley would a) not want to own so many and b) he would invest in the stations… oh wait boldfaced lie… Paley was cheapening the flagships, WCBS-TV was already lousy in news quality by the time he retired and sold the network to Larry Tisch by 1985, what am I to kid?

The stations that became part of CBS’s O&Os are really hard to identify. KPIX is a mess, KYW was already a WCBS-TV South by 2002; WJZ has always been like “there’s only one ‘JZ” and KDKA is been stable, trying to cover up the sags of the metaphoric Round Eye

Worse the I-Team just went on “sources” closer to the situation. Anyways the I-Team outside of these stories, more consumer investigative, and quasi investigative criminal journalism.

At least Boston still has Mike Beaudet; who can still do great enterprise reporting, and you still need more time past the 8 minutes he can do. There’s hope right?

COMMENTARY: RIP Mish Michaels – The Imperfect Meterologist

I do not say “rest in peace” with much sympathy. Mishelle (later her chyron-name was her nickname “Mish”) Michaels, the former meteorologist at WHDH-TV and later with WBZ-TV passed away unexpectedly aprox March 16th in her early 50s. WBZ-TV, the CBS O&O who was her last broadcast employer owned the narrative, as WHDH did not mention anything of her passing. She had brief stint at WMUR-TV before landing it big in Boston, in less than a year. She joined WHDH-TV in 1992, then left the station to join The Weather Channel, to then go to WBZ-TV in 2001 and left in 2009.

Before I continue, I must warn, the post is not remembering her in a positive light, since April is supposed to be Autism Awareness Month and I feel there is a need to remind the people in my market, that is Boston –  her (lack of involvement) to said community is the subject instead.

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