Palmerton Area Historical Society visits TV-13
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Kim Bell, General Manager of Blue Ridge Communications TV-13, second from right, took the Palmerton Area Historical Society into the control room at the television station. Ed Kane, control room engineer is on the right and Jenna Janecek, Chief Technical Director is fourth from right, and they helped explain what it is they do.
"Here's an inside scoop. Our sports guy stands," Kim Bell, General Manager of Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 told members of the Palmerton Area Historical Society (PAHS) as she took them on a tour of the television station located high on a hill above Palmerton.
Kim, charming and pleasant, displayed her award winning personality as she revealed several inside tidbits of the world of television to the interested group, like how the newsroom desk can swivel to accommodate set changes.
A curious PAHS member asked Kim where she went to school. She graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in Radio and Communications. She interned with Herb Denenberg, NBC 10, Philadelphia's TV consumer and investigative reporter.
"He was very intelligent but a goof ball. I am so glad I got to work with him," she said.
Kim also is a member of the Eyewatch News Team, anchors and reports on stories affecting Northeast Pennsylvania and co-hosts with Marie Johns, the popular "Talk of the Town with Kim and Marie." She was nominated for an Emmy and has received several National Communicator awards.
The only thing Kim isn't comfortable with in her career is doing the weather.
"You have to be very confident to stand in front of a wall with nothing on it," she said.
And to the delight of everyone, confident, handsome and debonair Carl Kern, TV-13's main weather anchor and a senior videographer, made an appearance in the newsroom. A graduate of Elizabethtown College, Kern earned his BA degree in Communications. He interned at TV-13 in 1986, started at the station as a videographer in January 1996 and began as a weatherman in April 1997.
Kern explained how he gives a weather report, saying he not only does the local weather but also for Ephrata.
"I do it here but send it to them from here."
Everyone was fascinated with the big blank green screen and wondered how it works. Kern explained that he stands in front of the blank green screen but the TV viewers see a weather map and graphics behind him. He is looking at a monitor off to the side and sees the weather map there and points at the area he is describing which looks like he is pointing to it on the big screen behind him.
Ahhh, the magic of television.
"Do you know why it's green?" he asked the curious group. "It's because it's the one color that is least worn by a person."
Someone remarked on how cool it was in the newsroom. Kern said the air conditioner is on all year round because of the heat of the lights.
Kim said she was thinking it would be good to have Carl as the last speaker at the end of the broadcasts. "What do you think?" she asked the group.
The response was an enthusiastic "Sure!"
One PAHS member said, "Look there. If you ever dreamed of seeing yourself on TV, there you are," she pointed to the monitors throughout the newsroom which displayed several of the members.
Another PAHS member asked who writes the news text. Kim said it was the producers, reporters and news anchors.
Kim explained how all the station's cameras are now high def (HDTV). It provides a resolution that is substantially higher than that of standard-definition television (SD). HDTV provides about five times as many pixels as SD which makes the picture much clearer.
The next stop on the tour was the control room, where high def was explained to them by Jenna Janecek, Chief Technical Director, Steve Prudente, Technical Director and Ed Kane, engineer.
March 5 of this year, Channel 13 went high def. TV-13 has a production truck for live feed and it went high def last weekend when it covered the American Cancer Society's telethon at Penn's Peak.
The high def picture looks different. Ed said that if you're watching a baseball game and you see the pitcher and you see people in the bleachers behind him but their faces are just colors. With high def, you can see the faces.
Kim pointed to one of several cameras and told the group it cost about $100,000 and a teleprompter about $5,000.
"Everything is crazy expensive. TV is not cheap," she said.
Kim said they no longer use video because everything is now on the computer.
If there is a power failure, the station has a backup generator.
The question was asked, "Where does a story begin?"
Kim gave an example. That day the station's scanner went off reporting a brush fire. Their reporter, Emily said, "Maybe we should do a story on brush fires." She went out to the brush fire, came back, wrote up the story, took it to the news anchor for approval and went back to edit it on the computer. Steve did the graphics. He pulled the segment up that appeared on that day's broadcast on the monitors so the group could see it.
A lady in the group said it looked like Marie Johns never wears the same thing twice. Kim said that she definitely has. "We don't have a wardrobe allowance."
As the group prepared to leave, Kim gave each a memento of their tour-a small white ball and their choice of a pen or pencil with the Channel 13 logo.
Kim told the departing group that what Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 does, is provide a gateway to the channels.
Dorothy Kegel of Palmerton said, "I enjoyed the tour very much. I never realized what was all involved in doing television."
Marlene Greenwood of Palmerton thought it was all kind of overwhelming but interesting. "It's quite something that all that technology is here in our area."
"I loved the tour. It was great. I watch Channel 13 all the time and now I know what goes on behind the scene," said Bert Holczman of Ashfield.
And that's a wrap.