Democratic National Convention
TV Techie Goodies
Inside the production setup

These pictures were provided by Rick Zach, Chief Engineer at WCVB-TV Channel 5. Click on any picture for full-size version. Click here to return to the main page for this article.

WCVB and Hearst rented space from ABC. The 28 Hearst-Argyle stations shared the left and middle trailers. WCVB had exclusive use of the right trailer.
Univision and Al-Jazeera were also housed within the ABC complex. The Boston Fire Dept biohazard decontamination unit was conveniently located directly in back of these trailers.

Home sweet home for the week...

WCVB-TV Fleet Center crew chief, Ted Phillips ( K1CVB). The Fleet Center preparation has been "Ted's baby" for the previous weeks.

The company dog was on the Hearst-Argyle payroll. His charge was to keep things calm. The staff's job was to become the people that he thought we were.

One of the hidden heroes.

Shared playback and transmission area for the 28 Hearst-Argyle-owned TV stations. Each Hearst station could send a reporter and photographer to Boston and this area was dedicated to servicing those out-of-town stations.

ABC News Operation

ABSAT is the ABC division that delivers news feeds to the affiliates for insertion into their local newscasts. WCVB rented many services from ABSAT including trailer space. The person reaching in the center was informing the news staffs in other trailers as to what video clip was coming next.

ABC News network news area. Peter Jennings' office was behind the blue & white curtain.

IT support to the rear, Sony Beta-SP videotape area in front.

More and more, the IT folks are welcomed to the team as heavy hitters.

SONY DV-Cam playback area

ABC-TV Transmission area

ABC-TV communications support using Motorola HT-1000's and multiple UHF repeaters.

WCVB crew security and communications

This production had the added elements of a highly mobile, unpredictable street news environment as well as the required due diligence relating to a terrorist threat. On July 24th, the FBI publicly disclosed what they originally defined as a "credible domestic terrorist threat" aimed at media news vehicles. With the exception of hiring additional security personnel, most contingencies were already in place including the pre-positioning of personal safety equipment for relevant staff.

In a genuine emergency, shared, public communications systems would be of questionable value. Suffice to say, WCVB deployed a considerable amount of communications gear with most of it being their own equipment.

Most equipment was already on hand. Some communications gear came out of retirement, some was rented. A special repeater channel was exclusively dedicated to crew safety, transportation and if needed, evacuation. All radios were reprogrammed with a new frequency plan. A fortunate byproduct was that many systemic improvements will be retained long after the DNC. The communications gear included:

  • Four UHF repeaters
  • Two wireline remote-controlled base stations
  • Two on-location base stations
  • Four in-studio base stations
  • 28 mobile radios in SUVs, rental vans and ENG vehicles
  • 41 walkie talkies
  • And a partridge in a pear tree...

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Posted: January 12 2005
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor