April 17, 2014

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How Much Has WTAP Changed?

We don't have to rely on the drugstore any more.

I think sometimes, that criticizing WTAP is a cottage industry.

I won't elaborate, because I don't want to give the offending party, or parties, any more ammunition than they already have.  But I do want to pass along a story which was told to me years ago, which gives an example of how far this TV station has come, especially in the 30 years I have been here.

It was told to me by Jack See, who passed away earlier this month.  I didn't work with Jack at WTAP, but I knew him from my earlier time at the old WBRJ radio station in Marietta, where Jack and I worked together.  Jack told me this story a few years after my local TV career began.

Before there was video tape (it isn't even tape any more), TV stations shot video tape on film.  Until the mid-1970's, 35 millimeter film was the standard for TV news film.  I'm told (and I actually saw it for myself), WTAP's film was a type called Super 8, film which was more suitable for home movies than for professional use.

Jack told me (and he was as good at telling stories as Glenn Wilson was) that, on a weekend, the station had film of a "breaking news" story.  I don't recall him telling me what type of story it was, but it was probably an accident or some type of emergency.  The station rushed to get the film developed for the news that night, but it couldn't.

Why? Because it couldn't get the film to the drugstore before it closed, in time to get it developed.

A few years later, film was out and tape was in, and stations no longer had to go through the time-consuming step of developing film, allowing the video to be put on the air immediately, if necessary. I, in fact, have never shot film, as tape was already the common standard by the time I got into television.

Yes, we make mistakes.  The other day (a result of working on a "breaking news" story), I said gas prices had risen to a dollar-75 a gallon.  If only... 

But we no longer have to rely on CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreen to get the news on the air.

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