KBTX HD News Conversion Underway Blog

By: Mike Wright
By: Mike Wright

July 7, 2011, marked the beginning of new chapter in KBTX History. After years of planning and preparation culminating with full support and approval of KBTX ownership in mid-2010, the conversion to HD News is fully underway.

News 3 at Noon was a scary venture yesterday because of the “fear of the unknown.” Because the KBTX studios are fully operated at the 29th Street location, the new digital/High Definition switcher, audio board and other necessary equipment were installed in the Engineering shop, a temporary control room for newscast production. This paves the way for a complete overhaul of the KBTX Control Room. We’ll have details soon on the new console construction and installation. The process of building this new facility begins the week of July 11th.

While there have been hours of training and rehearsal on the new control board switcher, there is always that “hold your breath” moment when the entire on-air operation shifts to equipment essential for staying on-air! Thursday was that day, 12 noon that moment in time. There was no turning back at that point.

Five phases will complete this part of full HD transition.

Phase one occurred in 2003 as KBTX launched high definition network programming, followed by Phase two when syndication (Rachael Ray, Ellen, Oprah, According to Jim) and commercial production started airing in high def in mid 2010.

Phase three started yesterday with the temporary re-location of the control room and will lead to the build-out of the new digital high-def Control Room.

Phase four of this “re-building” occurs in the KBTX Newsroom, some of which will remain visible during news broadcasts. Here’s a point of confession: this is only a PERSONAL observation – show’s how much I know! When the plan was presented to officers of Gray Television, it was my hope to eliminate the “working newsroom look” from the on-air shot. I was shocked at the response of other News Directors and engineers: “Don’t do that! We wish we had the working newsroom in the background!”

Translated: “Wait long enough and it comes back into fashion!” And so it is – while the view to the newsroom will remain part of our on-air look, it will have a whole NEW look. Again, an announcement about those details will come soon, as we are very excited to unveil a new partnership.

Phase five involves clearing out the current studio and replacing it with an all-new design and set. Through the years, thousands of people have toured the KBTX facilities and we look forward to making this new studio available to classes, service organizations, and other local groups. The weather center will be re-located to the opposite side of the studio, the Sports Center moves directly opposite of their current location, the interview set will be totally re-designed and the newsroom will now include equipment that allows for live news coverage during breaking news events from many different locations.

When the project is completed, millions of dollars will have been invested to ensure Bryan-College Station and the Brazos Valley is home to one of the state’s premiere broadcast facilities. This conversion is not a simple “flip of the switch.” Many stations, some within our own company, some in nearby markets, experienced issues during transition, issues we learned from. Graphics must be updated, weather graphics re-formatted and highlights of news and sports events captured in HD. As a 53-year partner with this region, archive footage is plentiful, virtually none in high-definition.

During this transition, we ask for patience and that you share in the excitement of the changing landscape of local television in Bryan-College Station and the region. Our dedication to this area runs deep and just got deeper. Doing things right take time. KBTX has been fully focused on this moment for several years. Bryan-College Station has never been an afterthought to the 60 employees who live and work here.

KBTX has been the local leader in digital technology, and we plan to be first with a fully high definition news facility in Bryan-College Station. Here’s an inside bit of info. We PLAN to be first, but we didn’t count on the earthquake in Japan affecting delivery dates of some cameras needed to stay on-time with the build-out. As with all details on this project, we’ll keep progress reports coming. In any case, the transition is fully underway.

Our plan is to post pictures on kbtx.com and through the KBTX page on Facebook during this time of transition. If at any time there are questions, comments, concerns or other issues about KBTX, I’m always available and will always listen and be appreciative of your time. Please know that you are welcome to stop by to see our project build-out first hand. It is an exciting time. We are in this together and very proud to experience this moment with our friends and neighbors. Thank you for watching KBTX and CW Texas, on-air, on-line or on your mobile device.

Mike Wright
General Manager
KBTX / kbtx.com / CW Texas


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