Channel 10 First to Flip to HD with a new set

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


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It doesn’t seem possible but it is.

18-years ago is when the NBC affiliate here in Providence, Channel 10, last unveiled a new look with a new set. It was April 17th 1993, when the then Downtown Providence based Channel 10 – moved “all the way” to Cranston to a new building with a new studio.

Although Katie Couric was not on hand this Monday morning at 6:30am when the station flipped to High Def and also showed viewers the new set (Couric actually anchored part of her Today Show broadcast from the new studio back in 1993), it was a big moment for the #1 rated news station here in town.

Management gave long-time Sunrise anchor Frank Coletta the honors of showcasing the station’s new look which has been under construction for some time. While the new anchor desk, monitor wall and overall feel was being re-vamped, a temporary set was being used to help keep everything a secret.

Another First for Channel 10

Being the first station in market to go HD is significant given the history of Channel 10. WJAR was the first TV station here on the air, it was the first station to broadcast in color and the first one in stereo. The timing of the new look was set back a bit because of a delay in some electronic equipment that had to come from overseas. But just the same the station will still get some good bang for its buck by debuting the overall during the crucial May sweeps period. By the way, Channel 12 says it will be next for HD followed by Channel 6.

Not too Slick

When asked if there was concern that the new set and anchor desk would be too slick for viewers, News Director Chris Lanni points out that 18-years is a long time and an entirely new set was needed. “It was time to modernize the look while creating a space that filled a 16x9 screen in our new HD world. Our in-house set designer, Wally Franco, worked tirelessly on the design and construction”. said Lanni who added that the goal was to showcase video which is key when you talk about television. Franco, who did do a very good job, also included a 6-screen plasma bank with color coded light panels that will change colors based on the time of day. Lanni also said the L-shaped news desk also had some inspiration from the look of NBC Nightly News.

Weather make over

In addition, Channel 10 also unveiled a new weather graphics look. It is engaging to the new viewer and gives an almost 3-d look to forecasts now. The station was smart to focus and invest in its weather product. Weather is such a huge deal in this town and always scores very high among people and nearly always means a ratings spike when bad weather hits.

Talent had to get tips

When you go HD, it is a whole new world related to how your anchor looks.

The cameras and process show a lot more detail and for those aging anchors, well, let’s just say looking good on camera becomes an obsession. Gone are the days where some studio lights would do the job.

As Lanni points out the station went outside for professional help to make sure the talent looked good and could put on the right type of make-up. That was smart. In other markets where station’s went HD with no training or help, anchors look horrible like pancake faced robots. “We brought in a consultant from Talent Dynamics and three make-up artists to work with anchors and reporters prior to the switchover the HD. HD requires using a different kind of makeup and learning new application techniques. Additionally, we’ve upgraded the lights on the set to create a more even and softer lighting scheme.”

Why 6:30am Launch?

One question was why make the switch to HD and show off your new set mid stream during the middle of the am Sunrise show? “We opted to launch the set during a Monday Sunrise newscast because the show does for our newsroom exactly what it does for our viewers. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and week. What better way to start the work week than with a little excitement. As for waiting until 6:30am to debut the set, let’s just call it our “Dorothy opening the door” moment.”

The new set is a real nice change and does help bring the station light years forward in terms of look. 18-years is a long time to go with the same coat of paint.

Even if you are the number one station in town.

Jeff Derderian is a former television news reporter and anchor both in Providence and Boston. He is one of the founders of the Station Education Fund. He can be reached at [email protected]



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