Curious about this Kat?

I’ve been interested in broadcast news for more than a decade. It all started after enduring Hurricane Rita when I was in elementary school -- when I realized the extent of the role news plays in our daily lives.

 

Since that hurricane in elementary school, I’ve worked with WFAA in Dallas -- a large market, award-winning station -- as a member of their producer development program.  The program allowed me the opportunity to learn the ropes in a top 5 station alongside some of the city’s best producers -- and produce my own half-hour newscast in one of the most fast-paced news environments in Texas.  I was able to line produce hour long shows -- making final on-the-spot changes and decisions relating to breaking news and network cut-ins -- with repeated success timing shows to hit all break and on/off times.

 

That program also afforded me the chance to work with KHOU after their Houston station flooded in Hurricane Harvey.  I worked in what became known as KHOU North -- a small, yet critical part of their operation -- functioning out of WFAA’s Dallas facility.  

The best way to explain my role with KHOU takes a little reader participation.  So imagine this: you leave behind your station, move to an empty warehouse, and start from scratch. Your whole show is airing via fiber line that's several hundred miles. You don't have the ability to talk to any of your live reporters, your crew, not even your anchors. The show isn't automated -- forcing you to rely on a tech director's ability to quickly familiarize him or herself with a switcher board. And the only screen you have to reference is programming. That's where I came in. In the early days, my responsibilities consisted of:

  • Coordinating with Master Control and relaying in/out times to North directors and Houston

  • Coordinating live shots with Master Control and directors

  • Cuing live shots and anchors

  • Building a show ticker via tagboard

  • Line produce the shows

  • Maintain relative omniscience about North operations to compensate for and fix any technical errors during the show

 

KHOU North has come a long way since the early days.​  Now, everyone in Houston can communicate with each other; those in Houston get their own times from Master Control; I only cue talent on the rare occasion a Houston producer does not; and the old KHOU ticker is back in operation.

But some of my responsibilities still hold true. I act as a back-up line producer during the shows, cuing talent when we encounter lengthy delays; and I still maintain that relative omniscience. My role is consistently tested when we -- as a station -- continue building operations to their level prior to Hurricane Harvey. And as the shows get more complicated, the less I feel like a live shot coordinator and the more I feel like a firefighter; and there have been some pretty big fires:

  • Live coverage from Astros World Series Parade -- the TVU signal was so unreliable I stepped in as line producer, deciding who to cue and when to do it when the signals would crash.

  • Live shots during World Series -- navigated unreliable TVU signals and constantly changing delays from within different stadiums.

  • Live shots from other stations -- some of these were tricky because our Master Control system did not have all potential sources for the desired live shot. Figured out how to rework numerous grids to give us access to desired live shot.

In my "firefighting" role, I gained key knowledge of tech directing, directing and master control operations. It also intensely enhanced my ability to line produce during breaking news or during a crisis.  

 

With the combined experience I received from two large market stations -- I am wholly confident in my roles as both a producer and line producer.

 

Before Dallas or Houston -- I interned with WACH FOX in Columbia, South Carolina.  My time with WACH was spent working with both the daybreak and 10 P.M. producers to generate new and interesting content relevant to the shows respective demographics.  

 

I was also extremely involved in the broadcast sect of TCU's Student Media.  I spent my four years in college working for TCU’s news and sportscasts.  I worked through several positions in the show’s crew and -- resulting from a very interesting story -- culminated my career as the shows News Director, Executive Producer and Crew Chief.

 

© 2016 by Kat L. Matthews.

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