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Lee Conklin and Kristian Brown Co-anchors Lee Conklin, left, and Kristian Brown, right, get ready to go on air Thursday afternoon at WTVG offices in Toledo.
Co-anchors Lee Conklin, left, and Kristian Brown, right, get ready to go on air Thursday afternoon at WTVG offices in Toledo.
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Published: Monday, 3/25/2013

TOLEDO MAGAZINE

A sneak peek of the action behind 13 ABC Action News

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Some figures to consider: 137,000, 64,000, and 15.

As in: 137,000 total area residents combine to watch the trio of 6 p.m. weekday newscasts in Toledo, according to the November Nielsen ratings. Nearly half of that number — 64,000 — tune in WTVG-TV, Channel 13, during that half-hour, with approximately 15 of WTVG’s newsroom staff involved in the broadcast.

But the only number that really matters to viewers is 6 — when the WTVG news logo is supposed to appear on their TVs. What they see for the next 30 minutes is a polished, breezy broadcast of breaking news, updates, information, weather, sports, and entertainment. Making that product happen is a complicated, harried, and occasionally messy process that begins at 9 a.m. with an editorial meeting of reporters, producers, and station management to discuss and assign the day’s big stories. It ends with the familiar 6:30 p.m. sign-off “That’s 13 ABC Action News at 6 .... ”

PHOTO GALLERY: Behind the scenes at WTVG-TV, Channel 13

Between those a.m. and p.m. bookends are reporters and videographers (once upon a time known as cameramen) covering area news on location, and later distilling those reports into one-minute-and-20-second “packages.” Behind-the-scenes producers build newscasts around the day’s packages and other news and then write scripts for anchors. A multitasking director inserts the familiar graphics and video clips while calling out camera instructions and other cues during the broadcast, and the anchor engages in the under-appreciated skill of reading to a live camera — without looking like they’re reading and knowing that there are thousands of people judging them.

But most of the drama during newscasts takes place in the station’s control room, where 36-year-old Cindy Sype literally runs the show while facing a wall of flat-screen TVs and a large NASA-style control board of lighted buttons for onscreen graphics and cues. If co-anchors Lee Conklin and Diane Larson and chief meteorologist Jay Berschback are the face of this newscast, then Sype is its heart and mind. “On air is all me,” she says, “including mess-ups.”

Sype guides this particular broadcast without incident, at least in the studio. During a live on-location report, though, a few loud off-camera voices find their way on air. It seems there are some hiccups beyond even the director’s control. Or, as Conklin says off-camera back in the studio: “Y’know, live TV.”

Contact Kirk Baird at: kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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