Road Trip moves into Biltmore Estate

There is a reason why so many people trek from all over country to see the Biltmore House.

There is a reason why so many people trek from all over country to see the Biltmore House. Every which way you turn, there is just such a beautiful, peaceful image that you could only wish your digital camera could capture.

When it is time to chop down the ole fern and unpack those dusty boxes full of decorations, the Biltmore takes on a whole new life. I think of the Biltmore at Christmas as everyone person’s fantasy of the perfect holiday home.

First of all, there are more rooms, walkways, and hidden passages than one could walk through in one day. Can you imagine sitting in front of a fire place that you could actually drive a Mini Cooper through? How about dining with the family in a room twice the size of the average American single family home, with a towering 30 foot Christmas tree…then disappearing behind a tapestry into a private room just to get away from the in-laws?

And for all you Martha’s, as you walk through the house, you are taking mental notes “Ahh, I am going to wrap garland around my chandelier this year.”

It is every American’s ideal home, the one you only hope and dream of somehow achieving in a lifetime, and it was only Mr. Vanderbilt’s bachelor pad!

I can just smell the sweet fragrance of the Christmas tree over the soft choir voices echoing from one stone pillar to the next, the sights and sounds of Christmas…Biltmore style. And then…we pulled up!

Yep, once again our over achieving alter egos parked that big ole satellite truck right smack dab in front of Biltmore’s front doors. I even took a picture from the RV to prove that our production vehicles (with 6NEWS plastered all over the place) were sitting a short jaunt from the main atrium.
And then, it was time to pull some cable. Hehe…I laugh now; but Tuesday, the Biltmore security was up in arms as we drug 5,000 feet of wet, smelly, black cable through the front of one of the French doors.

If you have ever been to Biltmore (at any time of the year) you will remember all the security, roped off rooms, and explicit instructions DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! It was like taking a herd of cattle through a room full of fine china from the Ming Dynasty! And there were pots from the Ming Dynasty in the library – used to have palm trees planted in them until the curators got a hold of them!

Where was I, ohhh; see…we get a little focused. One of the prerequisites for working in television is you have to have a great case of ADD. When we start working, there is nothing stopping our focus. Yeah…then, we met the security force of the Biltmore.

We were allowed behind the scenes and ropes of some of the most treasured areas of Biltmore. Every time we crossed a rope, a PR/Marketing representative had to call security to tell them we were crossing the rope, get clearance, then and only then were we escorted to the destination. That sounds reasonable if you are only carrying one load…yeah right.

We had to bring in cable, cameras, lighting, wireless microphones, and monitors. We had to test the cameras, audio, and lighting. Then we had to have furniture moved by a curator…if there was a slight possibility we might brush by the priceless article.

Now imagine this for eight different rooms spread out all over the house! And to top it all off, we had to pull cable up the front span of the house to the roof top.

Mr. Vandy must have been rolling over in his grave. I mean, if he was such a visionary…why not already have cable pulled throughout the house for us to plug into? It would have saved a lot of trouble on ours and the staff’s part! Oh, I remember, it was built in 1895…no television then, how could I forget. Well regardless, Mr. Vanderbilt was a true visionary! This man had all his I’s dotted and T’s crossed. We took a short tour of the attic and I noticed that the skeleton was built from steel. He was afraid of fires! There two-foot thick brick firewalls separating all the major sections of the house!

Anyways, it was worth all the mediation between the Marketing department and the Security force because the show was beautiful. It is not hard to do a visual show in such a visual setting! I am going to give a little shout out to K.C. of the Marketing department…she was the force behind our storm. If there was a way to walk from one side of the house to the other in less than a minute, she would find it!

But the best part of the day is when I made a new friend. I was trying to find a way to move into this next discussion with a natural twist. He came walking down the main staircase sporting his true colors! Yep, he was a South Carolina grad with all his garnet shining proudly as he walked in front of our lights. As you remember I am a Clemson grad and blood runneth ORANGE. So I put away all my pre-dispositions and shook his hand, because we beat those Gamecocks this past weekend.

This brings me to my final thought. Chuck Howard (faithful Gamecock) talked me into a little, let’s say friendly wager. I’m just glad Clemson won, because I was sweating the whole game – it was close, 13 – 9. Let’s just say Chuck will be sporting a Clemson pull-over tonight, ON AIR! Whoooo, Did I say I am glad we won…I am not sure if I could handle wearing something that says Gamecocks for five days straight! See ya at 4:30…Chuck will be there with all his colors; better yet, color – ORANGE!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/road_trip_moves.html

A loading dock of our own…

Did anyone ever think it would take five trucks to put on a month long show on the road? I mean we travel like no other; we have a satellite/production truck, back-up microwave truck, a lighting truck, an F-150 full on engineering paraphernalia, and a HUGE RV. I mean…an RV, just so we can meet, eat, and fill up three parking spaces! Well, most stops when the 6 News crew shows up on location, there is always that one person or security guard that didn’t know we are supposed to be there. You know, that one person that hasn’t had their ego petted lately and the MEDIA shows up in all its glory. And it takes three acts of congress, and enough time for me to play the slowest game of Sunday morning golf, to actually get in position to begin set-up.

But on Wednesday, the Carolina Place Mall gave us THE WHOLE LOADING DOCK to ourselves. I couldn’t believe my ears. We even had security guards waiting to accommodate our entourage! Allison, our trusty leader could have even parked her Monster Truck of an SUV in the spare space. Her Chevy must have forty-eight inch tires with a six inch lift; she will be premiering in the Monster Truck competition later on this month! The point of this is…the staff at Carolina Place Mall had their ducks in a row.

A brief tangent…where did that little get your ducks in a row idiom come from? I referred to the definition of the idiom on www.dictionary.com and found the following:
– Complete one’s preparations, become efficient and well organized, as in I’m trying to get my ducks in a row before I go to Europe. This synonym for get one’s act together probably alludes to lining up target ducks in a shooting gallery.

That’s weird, comparing organization to shooting fake ducks! I guess the next time I want to get all my ducks in a row…I will just line up the random things in the office I am trying to organize and shoot them with my grandfather’s, single action .357. More like disintegration than organization.

Anyways, now that I have cleared that up…Oh what fun it is to ride in five truck caravan, hey! And our caravan found the newly renovated Carolina Place Mall Food Court ready for our three thousand feet of cable, three cameras, six wireless microphones, two dozen lights, and four festive anchors (Chris, Terri, Mike, and Chuck). I am just surprised we didn’t trip any young children with all the cable we pulled! We used so much tape to secure the cable to the floor; we had to call in reinforcements…the Carolina Place Mall support staff. Yep, they made sure those mats – covering the cable for all the cameras – were so secure that it took almost the same amount of time to play another eighteen holes of golf to rip the tape back up! No one was going to trip on their watch!

There was a lot to do at the mall. From Mike trying to take us on a “Behind the Scenes” tour of Victoria Secret – Mike remembered it was a family show –, to Santa making an early appearance, and of course….food! Yep, a taste-test of some really good turkey…Chris is still nibbling.

But the highlight of the night was the fashion show. I am not sure if the WCNC-TV Engineering staff was more excited about the fashion show or the parents of the models because they were on live television! Both were taking pictures…and not of each other! And there was a chance to check out some new gadgets from Radio Shack. Terri and Chuck got so carried away with all the radio controlled toys…that the frequency from the controller messed up the frequency of their microphones. I guess no one was really listening, they were watching Chuck trying to run everyone over with the radio controlled hovercraft! Boys and their toys??? Actually my grandfather told me that “he who dies with the most gadgets, WINS!”

Speaking of men and their toys…we are off to the Convention Center in Uptown Charlotte for the 2005 International Car Show. I hope they have the new Mini Cooper! The Road Trip roles on…ZOOM ZOOM!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/a_loading_dock.html

So is it Christmas?

I’m sitting here and pondering a song that makes me think of my favorite time of the year…yep, Christmas. I am thinking of the first line…”So it is Christmas” and I can’t even think of the artist. I know it is either John Lennon or Paul McCartney. I just finished asking the Road Trip crew who is that famous artist…and no one knows! My faithful Director – Mariano Archdeacon – is now on the phone trying to help my deficient ability to recall names of artists. Survey says…it is John Lennon and the title of the song is Happy Christmas, The War is Over. I guess I think of that song during Christmas time because my father was huge Beatles fan and would blast this song all over the house to drown out the “cheesy” Christmas music my mother was trying to play.

I guess the purpose of this story is the fact we were at the Southern Christmas Show in the Charlotte Merchandise Mart on Monday. I can’t believe it’s that time of the year already…or is it? I mean, Thanksgiving isn’t until next week. I can’t even think past this weekend’s Clemson/USC game in Columbia…GO TIGERS! By the way…I am the only, lonely Clemson fan on this Road Trip crew. Chuck Howard is a faithful Gamecock…even though his Alma Mater is from somewhere in New York. And, Rick Grinstead – Engineer Extraordinaire – is also a Gamecock…and is a graduate. If he was only exposed to the true force – ORANGE – maybe we can show him the light. Enough of that tangent…Monday was all about sugar plums, ornaments, Santa, and all the holiday décor you could possibly imagine.

The Merchandise Mart was a winding maze of everything you could possibly ever want to decorate your home for Christmas. And along the edges of the walkways in that winding maze, you will find all the husbands who had their arms twisted to come along and help their spouses. Yep, they were flat on their hides waiting for their wives to re-emerge from the plethora of holiday cheer…hoping that the Christmas budget wasn’t shot in one stop! Some were even drooling because their heads have been planted against the wall for so long; they have fallen into REM sleep.

The best part of this whole image of holiday joy is the fact that the Christmas Holidays don’t even kick off until the day after Thanksgiving. Those men better start building up their tolerance, especially if they are already down for the count after one day of shopping. I am speaking from experience. The first few days of shopping…I grin and bear it. Because I know that it is only the beginning until all the family members’ lists are complete and the all the Angel’s from the Angel Tree have gifts. Thank God for the conception and invention of the internet and e-commerce. I personally like LL Bean, free shipping baby! I just know that the more shopping that I take part in as a collaborative part of our family, the more college football bowls I get to watch. Once again…GO TIGERS!

So I guess it is Christmas…no matter how you look at it! I guess it was good to have this stop early in our month, to get my shopping tolerance ready. I just know for the next few nights, after getting home from the Road Trip – pulling cable & running with a camera – I will be crawling through the attic looking for all the Christmas boxes! I love how every year when I go into the attic, a new box emerges…another box of decorations that depleted our holiday budget! I am just looking forward to A Christmas Story marathon (you know…Ralphie and his imagination) and the yearly rental of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/so_is_it_christ.html

Round-and-Round in Shelby…

Well, it was train rides and carrousels in the lovely town of Shelby so the merry-go-round continued as the second week of Road Trip was coming to a close. Before I begin, I would like to throw a little shout-out to the peeps of Shelby, the Road Trip loves some Shelby.

Let me tell you…when we showed up, – once again – they showed us why we continue to make an appearance in Shelby. The lunch they had waiting was phenomenal!!! We had salad with chicken and tangerines with this homemade vinaigrette dressing and the desserts were enough to make you slap your grandma they were so good! My mouth is still watering, because I am still fixated on the carrot cake, cheesecake topped with apples, and the chocolate cake that just melted in your mouth. I know we are supposed to be at Providence High School Friday, but the RV might be headed back to Shelby for some more good eats! Oh yeah, I am still driving the RV, they forgot how much they missed me navigating the Queen Empress! She is a lovely ship!

With all the fun and good food in Shelby, a true testament to our ability to function as a team was ever so present! Our faithful director, Mariano Archdeacon stormed out of Shelby just thirty minutes before the show. He received a phone call that every parent dreads…your child is sick and your spouse is on the way to the hospital with their loved one! Now, I do not normally like to talk about personal situations, but today I felt it was appropriate. Mariano’s little boy is okay, and they kept him overnight for observation. But this merry-go-round of a Road Trip is more than just a bunch of stops in different towns, it is family.

This crew has been working together ever since we started putting together these shows back in May of 2004. We laugh, cry, and fight together…but we are more than a team! We spend close to ten hours a day together, we all know how what makes the others tick. And if you take one of us out of the mix, it is like your best friend has gone on a trip without you! Our hearts were with Mariano as he raced back to Charlotte to be with his family. Mariano, this family was thinking of you and yours!

Many companies pair groups together for many reasons! They evaluate strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and experience…this Road Trip crew was crafted together because we have what it takes to put on a live broadcast for a month from close to twenty different locations. But, we mesh together and know how to jump in during crisis mode to help when one is pulled from the mix. Our audio expert jumped in to direct (punch the show), our engineering supervisor jumped in to run audio for the sixteen different microphones and the station provided broadcast support to make the show clean and fun! We missed you Mariano and our prayers were with you and your family when you left unexpectedly yesterday!

Our fun little merry-go-round continues at Providence High School Friday where we will be showcasing high school football playoffs. See you at 4:30pm “as the Road Trip Extra rolls on”…I stole that line from Chuck Howard!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/round-and-round.html

Introducing the Tray Cam…

November 9, 2005

Charlotte, NC – WCNC-TV and Belo Corporation would like to inform the public of their newest piece of technology, “Tray Cam”. “Tray Cam” was used for the first time in front of a live audience in Rock Hill, SC at the site of Ebenezer Grill.

It was used as a part of five camera, live television show entitled Road Show Extra. A wireless, lipstick size camera was attached to a serving tray (that was holding tasty fries and a chili dog), and was seen live when one of the hosts of the show delivered a plate of food to the other hosts. The most notable use of “Tray Cam” came when Mike Redding held “Tray Cam” in such a way that we could see Chris Justice remove fries from the red tray right into his mouth. This made for a picturesque view that brought the audience one step closer into the dimension of live television, almost to the point of scratch-and-sniff television.

“Tray Cam” was designed and developed by WCNC-TV’s Emmy Award winning Engineering Department. “When we were doing the sight survey at Ebenezer’s Grill, I was walking through the restaurant wondering how we could bring the audience closer to the action. Then I saw a lady delivering some fries and hot dog to a customer, and it cam to mind, let’s put a camera on a tray…’Tray Cam’”, stated Rick Grinstead – WCNC-TV Engineer. It is a tiny lipstick size camera attached to a wireless transmitter. This allows “Tray Cam” to wander anywhere – within a fifty foot range – and deliver hot tasty fries with a chili dog to a hungry customer and catch it live on television.

“Rick has been working for me for over ten years and I knew that his training and apprenticeship would pay off! I am about as proud as a boss and mentor could ever possibly imagine”, stated Steve Kiser – WCNC-TV Engineering Supervisor. Allison Andrews – Special Projects Manager – was excited with the new invention and knew it would play a tremendous role in the live production of Road Trip Extra, “When Rick came to me and said that he came up with ‘Tray Cam’, I was so excited…I couldn’t wait to add it to the show! It just made sense!”

WCNC-TV and its Emmy Award winning Engineering staff have been the authors of implementing new technology. This past May during the month long Road Trip Show, a new wireless transmitter was unveiled, COFDM. This piece of technology allowed for moving, – broadcast quality – live pictures and sound to be transmitted from distance of up to a couple of miles. It was first unveiled during a stop at Tweetsie Railroad. Chris Justice opened the show live while riding on the engine of the train as it was moving around the mountain. “WCNC-TV prides itself with coming up with new ways for our audiences to watch the news”, stated Jim Alvarez – WCNC-TV Operations Manager.

”Tray Cam” and all the many technological breakthroughs can be seen daily during the month of November on WCNC-TV’s Road Show Extra starting at 4:30pm.
See the amazing “Tray Cam” in action.

Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/introducing_the.html

Tour of the new arena – Bobcat Style

So let me tell you, man did I sleep good Wednesday night. I think I was in bed around 9:30 p.m., and for good reason. Our stop at Bobcats Arena was a doozy, that place is huge! Like any major sports arena, it took close to two hours just to get clearance to get inside the place to do the show! Our contact, Jamie ???? – I’m sorry I can’t remember your last name- had everything set-up and ready to go. But, you know how it is when each security guard needs to flex their muscles and justify their salary.

I think we moved our transmission truck at-least four times to suit the likes of Allied Security. And when we finally got access, we were having trouble getting power to our production truck. It is always that one connector you think you have, but hope you never forget… well, it was a simple power turn around connector that was creating a sense of stress. Thanks to the Bobcats’ Operations Staff, we were able to bring you full access to the arena.

The arena was absolutely awesome! The people who designed this place thought of everything when it comes to a modern venue to enjoy professional athletics. Where do I begin… well, the main entrance I suppose. When you walk in the front door, you immediately feel some sense of tradition in place that has not experienced professional athletics for an extended period of time. There is artwork covering all the walls featuring local and state athletes. Towering pieces that keep your neck bent while coming up the main escalator. And when you get to the main lobby – on the main level – you notice the floor has these interesting designs that make no sense what-so-ever.

Well, until you put your mind into a basketball mode. Yep, leave all your worries and stresses at the door, because what you are looking at is a bouncing pattern as if someone was bouncing a basketball across the floor. As you follow the bounces around the concourse and make your way to your seat, you notice…every seat in the place is great. You feel like you are actually are on top of the floor. There are seats that are set-up like a bar where you can sit, eat, and watch a LCD monitor of the game or any other sporting event.

If you venture up to the top, there is a place for parents and kids to hang-out. Dads, imagine a place where you can take your kids to watch a basketball game while they hang in a “kids area”. You can get a drink at the bar, let the kids play, and watch the game…”Honey, can I take the kids out again tonight???” And here is my favorite part, let’s just hope I can describe this technological luxury appropriately, there is an antennae that was built around the circumference of the arena that can provide data to watch video on your PDA or cell phone. You can even rent bandwidth on this antenna to provide data and information to people. Pretty cool… I wish I understood all the details.

And let us not forget that there are actual sit-down restaurants in the arena. This section of the arena is called the 333. It is not just your burgers, hotdogs, and pretzel type of place; it’s a full scale restaurant to enjoy some great delicacies before the big game. Man, I could talk about food all day! Not enough time because we are off to Rock Hill today, Ebenezer’s Grill. From restaurant to restaurant, the Road Trip has got you covered. It is going to be fun to get all of our equipment into this tiny restaurant. We have to be there early so that we can have everything complete before the lunch crowd arrives. See you there!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/tour_of_the_new.html

What is up with these Renaissance people?

So we have only completed three Road Trip stops and my new running shoes have already taken some war wounds!

Allison Andrews (our leader and trusty producer) is getting the most for her money on this pair. I got these grey ASICS (with orange strips – of course) on sale for 40 bucks! They are just as comfortable as the $100 ones…and have orange! As you can tell I like the color orange. It stems from younger years growing up in Clemson. And to keep from stirring up the family gossip, I went to Clemson over Auburn. Well, it helps the decision when you have a scholarship and get to work in sports for your college career. My blood runneth orange!

Anyways, Wednesday night was quite the affair…from Terri pulling up her pant leg to get an ankle tattoo, to Mike starting a rope fire for some crazy dude to walk across. And don’t forget the “Tomato Justice” where everyone was throwing tomatoes at some wacky dude behind a wall. (Click here to watch the show) What is up with these Renaissance people and their pre-historic antics? We should have put Chris behind the wall for the “Tomato Justice”…renamed as “Chris’s Tomato Justice”. Then everyone could have belted him with a tomato for a little justice on Chris Justice. I didn’t tell that joke to well. I always screw up the punch line.

Click here for photos from the show.

So my question is why we didn’t we see Mike walk up the fiery rope. I mean, he put his life on the line the night before by being catapulted in the air by the crazy Russians at the big top of Cirque du Soleil. It took them two tries to throw him in the air and make him land on the platform. I think the Russians sabotaged the event by releasing him early and making him crash onto the side of the platform. They just didn’t want to get out done by a “Broadcaster.” Anyways, since Mike was eager enough to get thrown, why not try to walk up the rope of fire? I am sure he has great balance and it would make for great television…imagine the host of the Carolina Traveler walking the fiery rope. It’s like walking the plank. Come on Mike, step up to the plate…is that all you have to offer? I am sure Allison was thinking…what would it take to get Mike on the rope? Maybe Mike has a “no fiery rope walking” clause in his contract, WCNC needs to renegotiate.

Well, Thursday night I am sure we will deliver some good television. Just imagine, thousands of screaming, hormone induced high schoolers putting on a Pep Rally for television. I am going to wear my special swat gear just in case I get trampled, because all they want is TO BE ON TV! We will be in Matthews at the Town Hall for the Independence/Butler pep rally…the game is Friday night. Butler might just knock off the Mighty Independence??? Tune in for Chuck’s thoughts! I look forward to seeing everyone. I am glad we are confined to the asphalt parking lot of Town Hall, may be my new orange stripped ASICS might get a rest…nope, if Allison has anything to do with it!


Originally posted: http://www.beloblog.com/WCNC_Blogs/blogger/archives/2005/11/what_is_up_with.html