Is it SET Yet?

I won’t have to go out very far on this particular limb to announce what the station on Union is about to do: Unveil a new set. It’s been rumored for a while and they’ve already undergone a lot of renovation over there. They already have a really nice newsroom. I got a tour of that back in February. Since then I’ve heard people complain among other things about the need for a new set and new graphics. I got an email Monday telling me that I should watch Tuesday’s Noon show on WMC. Well unless the anchors would be naked (and just where would they clip lav microphones if they were ) it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they’re rolling out something new like a set and graphics.
I learned a long time ago that you always want to roll out something like a new set on a Noon show. If something goes wrong, you have plenty of folks around to get things fixed. The morning shows are too long and too early and if a problem develops you are stuck with it for two to four hours depending on how long the morning show is. You generally don’t want to try out something new on your early evening news because that may be when your loyal audience is largest.
I was working at the now defunct WEVU-TV in Ft. Myers, Florida in the late 1980s when we not only unveiled a new set, it was unveiled in a new building. The problem was, most of the equipment from the old building and old set were brought over an installed in the new digs. On top of that engineering nightmare, the equipment wasn’t the best to begin with. It was first tested when we hit the air at 5pm. We rolled the new News open, the tally light came on and the anchors started talking. But nobody could hear us because no one had hooked the microphones up in the audio room. We couldn’t even apologize for the technical difficulty. I think we scrambled to get Cheers or some other syndicated program on the air for the rest of the half hour. The GM who used to be the GM at the NBC affiliate in St. Louis came in and said something like “Hey, even Tom Brokaw had problems with robotic cameras the first night they used them”. That was supposed to make us feel better but it didn’t help my mood much.
That’s why I’m a firm believer of unveiling something when it’s ready to be unveiled. If there is a problem, the new set will still be new when you take off the wraps.

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23 Comments on “Is it SET Yet?”

  1. autoegocrat Says:

    You told me that your mother sometimes reads the blog, so I’m not going to answer your question about where naked anchors would clip their mikes out of respect to her.

  2. Joe Larkins Says:

    I do appreciate that.
    By the way it appears TODAY (Wednesday) at Noon is the big day at AN5. I’ll have to TIVO it again as I’m out of pocket but if they do unveil the new News set, I’d like some feedback on what folks think.

  3. Jack Church Says:

    Boy Joe do I remember that big night at WEVU. I still tell people the story how we were all dressed in our “Sunday Best”, there was a marching band on site along with stars from ABC and I think even Fireworks. Sure sounded like the makings of a great party. But oh what a disaster! Do you recall the local newspaper the next day had a line about us that said something like “WEVU stumbles again”. Hey and if you really want to share promotion stories that went bad how about when we captured the rights to the coveted MDA telethon and we were asked to leave the Mall where we were scheduled to do the remotes!!! Oh well, at least the boating was good on days we had an anchor.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I always thought that unveiling of a new news set was all about . . . timing!

  5. John Says:

    So the set did debut Today after all! I actually like it a lot, nice to see there is an actual weather center now and not just some small office space. The overall look of the set is certainly nice and professional, and lots of plasma screens. Perhaps a bit too much blue though especially behind the anchor desk. The graphics and music are much improved as well, looks like an updated version of what they had previously, but a much better style. Will have to get used to seeing Joe and the others not in front of a skyline of the city, lol. I’m sure they thought it was becoming overused with 13 and 24/30 having adapted forms of it in the last few years with their new sets.

    Overall the folks at 5 should be proud and enjoy it. They’ve badly needed it and finally have it now.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    they accidentally got the wrong set. that one was supposed to be in jonesboro. mkt 180 or therabouts.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    whatever. don’t be a hater. the set has a lot of options that we’ll slowly roll out such as the swiveling desk and plasma’s and other things. not so happy with the chyrons though, a little on the tiny side

  8. AMNewsBoy Says:

    Saw the new gfx and the “tour of the new set” on their Web page (which was a little odd, but OK)… I gotta agree that the graphics are WAY too small (and that by the end of the week, enough older folks are going to call and complain to get them fixed)… also noticed that 5 is going the “here’s the story you’re watching super” route, which I’m still ambivalent about.

    The set… while, yes, it is an improvement — I’m still not sold on it. It looks like a generic news set to me (as in: we called a company to have it built for us, rather than design one ourselves). Too many stations, IMHO, do that these days — a perfect example: KCTV, KARK, and WSMV ALL have the same exact set — sure, there are little differences here and there, but the desks and the “control room” backdrop are the same. Is there somebody who sells that generic “control room” wallpaper — ’cause I want that for my dining room.

    (I also think the multiple 5’s are distracting — in the 2-shot, there are 8 of them on the screen (including the bug)… in that “studio cam” shot, there are 11 of them.)

    KAIT’s set drastically needs renovation, IMHO — that set has been there for at least 10 years now, back to when Dick Clay was doing sports and Tony Brooks was in the anchor chair… but that’s a topic for another time.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Somebody said they thought that was their temporary set while they got ready to install their new one. Is that right?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    It does seem pretty generic…the desk top in front of the anchors is an interesting shade of blue.

    The weather center with the big dell flat screen monitors….hmmm…where have I seen that before???

  11. John Says:

    Yeah, generic ‘cookie cutter’ sets are really the in thing it seems. Just take a look at the Fox O&Os around the country including WHBQ. It is sad to see that become the case, but it seems to be happening everywhere. But while somewhat generic, its a big improvement and I still like it a lot. However, as amnewsboy also alluded to, all those “5”s are becoming a bit of a distraction for me as well. I didn’t notice until last night just how many are there. Now that is probably the biggest drawback to me.

    And the graphics, I see what some are saying about them being too small. I guess my eyes are good enough to where I didn’t notice ;). I bet those will be enlarged before too long.

    And no, that’s not their temporary set. That is the new one. I’m not sure if you were serious to begin with though. Just like when 13 debuted their new set, the haters from the other stations in town really do come out.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Joe, do you, or anybody out there, remember when WHBQ had the big wide white oval set-desk like the anchors at ABC and, also had “The Minotaur” music in the background? Al Kengott and Don (Nicely)Stevens days.

    I may be telling my age with this one.

  13. Joe Larkins Says:

    I do not remember that specific set at WHBQ. My earliest recollection on HBQ was when I lived in Jackson, TN in 1981 and during the last shot of the open, two cameras would come trucking in at high speed from the sides and come to a screeching halt just as the anchors started talking. I think the male anchor at the time was Gary Roedemeier and he may have been news director at the time too.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    The set is much like any other modern TV news set. I guess Memphis with two stations (WHBQ & WPTY) with relatively new state of the art sets and a thirs (WREG) with a new Weather Set puts presure on the Union address to update their set.

    It ok, I think the “5” in the background behind the anchors is a little overkill. It (the “5”) makes me feel as if I need 3-D glasses.

    I personally always like the ones on 5 that were during the Norm Brewer era. I even like the white set during the Clyde Lee anchor days with the Issac Hays “Shaft” theme. I did have a feeling that the off camera staff was saying “who’s the man, Clyde, Clyde”. Because he always looked as if he was about to bust out laughing.

    Hearing the name Rodemeier reminded me, It is amazing how many WPSD people came to Memphis! Including Rodenmeier, Clyde Lee, and Dave Woloshin.

  15. Joe Larkins Says:

    I knew Rodemeier worked in Paducah at WPSD but I thought th only station in that market that Wolo worked at was KFVS in Cape Girardeau.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I think they need several more 5’s in the background so I know exactly what station I am watching.

  17. LeftWingCracker Says:

    In the early 70s, KARK had this really cool (I was 12) desk in the shape of a 4 with Roy Mitchell at the top, Dave Woodman and Tom Bonner along the side, it was great!

    By the way, while I’m not fond of 13’s set, have you seen their new website? it used to stink on ice, but the new one is the best in the market, IMO.

  18. Joe Larkins Says:

    I’m not familiar with the KARK set but it sounds interesting.
    I agree with the HBQ website. They went from zero to 90 real fast with the new website and what it has to offer. I haven’t surfed it that much but I did move around it a little bit. It is a vast improvement to say the least.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, it’s a pretty set. The news graphics and music are long overdue and look nice but let’s step back and look closer. I saw the three reports where the public was given a tour of the new set. Do you we really give a s___? Does anyone besides the crew on Union? I doubt it. Those 3:00 minutes each could have been devoted to news and put the “tour” within promos somewhere. And while we’re looking close, did you see anything that might contribute to better news coverage. I didn’t. The only thing that came close was a big plasma TV.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    don’t worry, ther are more “tools” on the way to “contribute to better news coverage.

  21. John Says:

    This is completely off topic (although kinda ties back into some of the retrospect from earlier) but pretty cool nonetheless…found this while surfing YouTube tonight. Amazing what you can find there. Should bring back some memories for long time Memphians.

  22. Jay Says:


    WEVU-TV did not go defunct; they simply changed their calls to WZVN-TV.

  23. joelarkins Says:

    Technically I see your point and concede that. But since the WEVU call letters are still being used by somebody out there and they are NOT being used by Channel 26/Cable 7 in the greater Ft.Myers/Naples area and the fact that WBBH is doing news for the former WEVU/ABC affiliate since their newsroom was shut down and the fact (I’m told) that they vacated their facility at Bonita Springs, the station I worked for is defunct or at least pretty funky. So to me they are defunct but yes, you are correct in that the channel in some form or another survives under another set of call letters.

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