Daily Archives: October 7, 2008

Silent newscast

Are you trying to tell me something?  "Underworld," 1927

Are you trying to tell me something?

We didn’t see it, but the story is circulating about WXIA’s audio-free newscast Saturday night.  It played on WATL at 10pm.  Apparently only viewers noticed at first.  The talent and producers figured it out as the minutes dragged on.  It went on for fifteen of the scheduled thirty minutes, then the silent newscast abruptly ended.

The audio played just fine in the control room and the studio.  But somebody noticed that the audio wasn’t leaving the TV station, which recently re-located to “the hill” at One Monroe Place.  Apparently there are still a few bugs, and maybe a ghost or two in the “new” building.  We’re told a computer chip got blamed for this particular glitch.  By the time the news team re-convened for its 11pm show on WXIA, engineers had solved the problem.

It sounds extraordinarily awkward.  The commercials, of course, played loud and clear out of master control.  For at least a few minutes, the studio and control room staff apparently knew nobody could hear their program.  Yet, they pressed on in the hope that somebody would throw the right switch and fix the problem.

It’s likely the station’s viewership was down to near zero by the time the station bailed out of the newscast.  We failed to record it.  Too bad.  We’d like to know:

Did the on-air talent carry on as usual, mouthing the words, knowing nobody could hear them?  Did the station display crawls acknowledging the glitch?  Use flash cards?

At the very least we’d hope the anchors were able to silently wave bye-bye to their viewers as the station dumped out of the newscast and into an episode of “Newsradio.”  Perhaps a hand-slash across the throat would have been even more appropriate.