Live twist

Live shot reacharound:  One last volume adjustment.

Live reacharound: A late volume adjustment.

“It’ll work,” said Bill.  Bill is a satellite truck operator at WXIA.  He was handing me the box into which I would plug my earpiece for an upcoming live shot in Talbot County, Georgia.

My earpiece was probably ten years old, a vestige from another workplace.   The earpiece is one of those morning departure accessories that’s required with wallet, keys, pen, phone and key card.  If you’re en route to a TV newsroom for a day’s work, you carry the earpiece.

WXIA had given me a new earpiece.  It came in a box.  Assembly was required.  It also had a large plug, which raised a red flag in my mind.  My earpieces always had teeny-tiny plugs.  The new earpiece was in my briefcase, unassembled.  The ten-year-old mainstay was in my pocket.  It’s the piece Bill assured me would work on WXIA’s equipment.

The earpiece is essential.  If I’m standing in Talbot County, I have to be able to hear the audio from the newscast — especially the “toss,” which lets me know when to start talking.  Producers in the control room can also talk to me through the earpiece, giving cues and last-minute info.  The earpiece plugs into a box that’s dialed into a phone line which transmits the program audio.  The box is typically worn on the back of the belt during the live shot.

“There’s audio in the box.  Try it,”  Bill said.  I grabbed the box.  I put the earpiece into my left ear.   Instinctively, I turned the volume knob all the way to the left, then inserted the plug-end of the earpiece into the smaller of the two holes on the box.

Instantly, loud and distorted ear-splitting audio bombarded my brainpan.  I grabbed the volume knob again, and twisted it to the right.  The decibel level reduced.  I could hear legible program audio.

The earpiece worked.  But at WXIA, it seems that the volume knob is what tech geeks might call “counterintuitive.”  Twist it to the right, and the volume goes down.   Now I know.unchain my heart

So began my first TV live shot since June 28, 2007.  There are additional highlights:

  • Talbot County, Georgia is so small that its county jail has only four cells.  Walk into the lobby, and you can see the cells from the front door.  The high sheriff himself was sitting behind the lobby desk — straight outta Mayberry.  We did the live shot in front of the jail.  It’s the white building over my right shoulder.  The courthouse is on the other side.
  • We wanted to do the live shot in front of the rural home where the dogfighting raid took place.   Investigators urged us not to do so.  Turns out there are friends and relatives in the area who strongly sympathize with the alleged dogfighter.  We met one at midafternoon.  He was scary, probably drunk, and acted like he was packing.
  • The chain was gross.  But it was a cool, clanky, Dickenesque prop.
  • Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous at all, despite the fact that live shots aren’t my forté and two years had passed since my last one.

The hardest part of the live shot:  Remembering the correct outcue.  I had to rehearse it, out loud, several times.  Our web guy says there has been some chatter on the WXIA message board, speculating on how long it would take for me to absentmindedly lapse into a “fox five news” outcue.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One more note:  Upon reviewing this piece, I now realize I dopily used the word “treatment” twice in the first sentence. Grade:  C.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

12 thoughts on “Live twist

  1. Daglover

    Not so easy actually working…is it? Much easier to sit at home in your underwear and write trash about other people?

    Reply
  2. Beau

    The capitol of Talbot County is a city named Box Springs?! Put that up there with awesome city names like Alabama’s Opp or Eighty Eight Kentucky

    Reply
  3. Budvz

    I thought the report was pretty good. You get an “A” for show and tell. Good use of chain. Sorry I missed “treatment” faux pas. You know how I relish calling out other people’s language errors. By the way, I got through four decades of television news without ever really understanding “mix-minus.”

    Reply
  4. tvb

    If it’s any consolation Bud, I produce live shots day in and day out for one of the networks and those pesky affiliates and still don’t understand how that fancy mix-minus stuff actually works either. I just know that in order for the reporter not to hate me at the end of the day, I better pay attention at the beginning of a hit; particularly with small markets that have the boss’ 12 year old kid running the audio board.

    Reply
  5. itpdude

    It’s good to see you back on the air. I don’t know about grades and all that but I saw a guy knocking the cobwebs off. “White glove treatment” and “treatment” in the same sentence isn’t that bad, really.

    I’m hoping to see you doing the man on the street stuff. I still remember that time you went to the hunting expo and got the pic of you and a fake buck in some hunter’s getup.

    See you at Eats. I’m the guy who says, “hey, I know you, you’re that Russ guy, amirite?”

    Reply

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