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Live Truck Shadow Shift: 1/26/09

I knew this shift would be interesting with snow expected in Mid-Missouri – it was only fitting that my guides for this shadow shift were assigned a winter-weather live shot at one of Columbia’s busiest roadway intersections. Kyle Seever was the driver and overall “live truck operator” while Candice Crawford reported.

Setting up a live shot doesn’t seem to be very difficult; just somewhat time consuming and very step-intensive. In other words, miss a connection or plugging in a particular cable, and an entire newscast (or at the very least, a particular live shot) can be ruined. Seever and I arrived about an hour and a half before the 5pm show to the scene of the live shot, set to be the intersection of Providence Rd. and Stadium Blvd. – all 7 or 8 lanes of its beauty.

Before leaving KOMU, Seever made sure that we had extra batteries for the camera in case the truck’s generator failed. We ensured that there was a tripod in the back of the truck and a tool kit with all mic extensions and wires. Upon arriving at Providence & Stadium, our first task was to raise the mast of the live truck – the DirecTV-sized dish capable of sending microwave signals to KOMU’s studio in an instant. Seever noted that it is important to make sure the mast is raised to its maximum height of roughly 7 sets, and directed my attention to the large “DO NOT PARK UNDER A POWER LINE – YOU CAN BE KILLED!” warnings. Trees are also a risky nearby object – avoid them. From there, we can start the generator and begin setting up the camera, tripod, and mic/IFB for the reporter. As the weather was the focus of our story, we made sure that the tripod and extra light kits we brought were safely secured to the ground with sand bags from the back of the truck.

While I’d love to continue on in-depth, it’s 11:44pm and I have an 8:00am class – I’ll keep it brief for the sake of staying awake through Broadcast 2 Lab at 1pm.

Seever pointed out that an IFB is an “interruptible feedback” device. It allows the reporter to talk to producers and the control room, and also to stay on-pace with the newscast’s upcoming cues. He advised that reporters MUST bring their scripts, weather gear, and, when necessary, a separate IFB as sometimes reporters find it icky to share an IFB among many people. Seever said that reporters can best help live truck operators by showing up on time – at least 15 minutes prior to a show starting. He also said that specific directions on where to bring the truck are important – in other words, not just “downtown Columbia” or “along Highway 63” – he said directions like “8th and Cherry” or “Northbound 63 and Broadway” are vital to proper setup. Lastly, he said the most common problem facing live reporters include: overt nervousness and looking at scripts (one should know their topic well enough to not memorize a set script) and being unfamiliar with IFB sounds (as one can hear producers, anchors, and themselves speaking on delay) and becoming confused.

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