All Set

Chris K
Chris Kapostasy (Jansing) back when the WNYT news set — and the newscast — was in its prime.

So, somebody asked how long WNYT’s been using the same news set.

I was there when they debuted the current set, you know, the one with lots of wood and the faux control room in the background? It’s been there so long that I couldn’t even remember when it was new. I looked it up and the answer was surprising.

Here’s an article from the Times Union about the station installing the new set — in 1995!

That makes the set more than 20-years-old. If it were your kid, it would be in college — and at this rate, it might be witness to a third term with a Clinton in the White House.

After all these years, the set is looking shopworn, especially the background, which has clearly faded with time. If you watch closely you’ll glimpse the unmistakable white mop of hair belonging to Newt Gingrich, speaker of the House in 1995.

But the bigger question is this: what’s more important, the news set or the people sitting on it?

The answer is both, but not in equal proportion. You’re much better off having great anchors sitting on an old set than the other way around.

How long does a news set last? Let’s go back to the 1995 news story:

Neither Fenhagen nor the people over at Channel 13 would give even a ballpark figure as to what it costs to build a set, which usually has a lifespan of between five and 10 years.

Or twenty years.

Either way, it’s time for a change. You could get away with certain things before DTV and 50 inch screens. The old days of analog TV were much kinder to rough-looking news sets and wrinkly anchors.  Now, something that’s faded looks faded.

2 thoughts on “All Set

  1. Just asking – Some of the Sunday news shows obviously use green-screen technology behind the host, similar to weather forecasters. Wouldn’t it make sense just to ditch the studio and go to that technology? Is it cost-prohibitive?

    1. Oh, absolutely.

      Many news sets today are a hybrid of solid construction, virtual backgrounds and other digital elements. The really nice ones have backgrounds that react to camera movement, so the perspective changes and it looks realistic.

      As for expense, all video production technology is cheaper than it once was. There will always be cost that comes with change; if someone’s resisted change, like WNYT, it tells me that they’re minding their nickles and dimes. Ha, get it — CHANGE.

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