News with a Purpose?

Recently, I went on a field trip for a class to the duopoly studios of KCAL/KCBS in Hollywood. I personally had no idea how news stations telecast information and frankly, did not really care. In retrospect, it was actually a very interesting experience to see how these programs work and manage to get ratings.

My classmates and I met in the board room where the top level management of KCBS2/KCAL9-Los Angeles have their meetings. Everyone was talking about the WB/UPN merger (UPN13-Los Angeles is going independent) and how this is a threat to KCAL9 because it will not be the only independent station not subject to broadcast network requirements. We met the General Manager, News Director, and Sales Director. The president Don Corsini was away in New York. I could probably go on forever about what each of these positions entail but the most fascinating to me was the News Director, Nancy Bauer. She was this cute blond with a quirky personality, enough to make me question her brilliance but hearing her talk about all the stuff she does rid my once dubious mind.

She comes in 8am and sits down with her staff of reporters and they talk through the previous day’s events or any pressing news. They are on 11 hours of the day so each broadcast of the news is tailored towards the previous program that came before or what will come after it. Isn’t that fascinating? The news programs have a point behind what lead-in story you hear because they want the audience from the program before. I totally had no idea. I did not realize there was a method to their madness. So if you are watching an episode of “Judge Judy,” the news telecast following it will be completely rewritten and reworked telecast from the one after “Who wants to be a millionaire?,” even though the stories may be exactly the same.

Then we got a tour of the studios, which wasn’t all that interesting, except for the fact that all the cameras are automatic and there is no need of humans. We met some of the anchors: Laura Diaz, Paul Magers, and David Jackson. Nice people with a lot of foundation on their faces. The set directors are probably the most insane people I have ever encountered. They look at about 50 TV sets and cue how long segments need to be and commercial breaks, and I don’t even know what else and this is all live by the way. It was exhausting just to write the latter sentence. I cannot even give justice to how stressful this job looked. It was like watching an octopus do something with all eight of its tentacles at once.

I could go on but there is just too much to write. Maybe some other time. Thanks for reading.

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