A tour of the downtown studio where ABC11 News goes on air to learn how the news gets made
by Ayn-Monique Klahre
If you’ve strolled down Fayetteville Street, you’ve gotten a peek into ABC11’s Raleigh studio (they also have facilities in Durham and Fayetteville). This is where they film the morning, noon, 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. news, and where many of their reporters and production folks are based. ABC11 expanded into the neighboring office two years ago to double their square footage, making space for more robust sets and an augmented reality area.
From the street, you often see your favorite talking heads at their monitors at the windows, anchors sitting at the desk narrating the morning news and meteorologists predicting the weather in front of a green screen. That glimpse proves what you may suspect already: “There is so much work that goes into a 90-second or two-minute report—not to mention the entire hour-long newscast!” says anchor Amber Rupinta. “There are so many moving parts behind the scenes to pull off a newscast, and sometimes when news is breaking, we are ad-libbing and reporting as it is unfolding, and directors and producers are making calls on the fly.”
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The folks you see on-screen are scrappy: they do their own reporting, write their own stories, dress themselves and do their own hair and makeup. “Literally everything you see them interact with, they have created in a computer,” says news director Michelle Germano. “If you see a weather map, it’s someone on our team that has manipulated it, added the temperatures and the direction of the wind.” This can-do attitude is what makes ABC11 one of the leaders in the country in terms of technology, says Germano, “We’re always looking for the best technology to bring to our viewers.”
The station also gets cred for its longevity: Many staffers have been there for 15 or 30 years, including the John Clark and Barbara Gibbs duo, the longest-running morning team in the market (he’s been there 28 years; they’ve been working together since she got there 19 years ago). “So many people on our staff love the station and the area that they stay here for a long time,” says Germano. It has to do with their connection to the community, says Rupinta. “We live and work here, and the news that happens affects us and our families too,” she says. “When we report on issues or publicize events, we get to see the reach and results of our work.”
“We really get to connect with viewers,” agrees Gibbs. “I can’t tell you how many times people in the community tell me we are in their homes every morning and they feel like we are family! Can you get a better compliment?”