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'Gayle King' Raises Bar in Production

Putting radio shows on TV is nothing new, but creating The Gayle King Show for both OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and a variety of radio outlets created a number of challenges that generated some unique approaches to the technology of talk-show production.

Last September, ahead of OWN’s Jan. 1 launch, the network hired NEP Broadcasting’s NEP Studio division to build a new studio for King, which was supposed to look like a radio show but have all the visual excitement a TV viewer might expect. For the production, King would continue to produce her two-hour radio show each morning from the new studio on the west side of Manhattan, with the last hour being aired on OWN, according to Barry Katz, senior VP and general manager of NEP Studios, who oversaw the project.

“Unlike some radio shows that are simply recorded on video for TV, you have a full-blown TV show, with a TV producer and crew in New York going on hand in hand with a radio show that is being produced in Chicago,” says Gray Winslow, facility manager and engineer in charge of the studio. “It is a very unique idea.”

One major challenge with the concept was that King had always been located in New York, but the producer and the control room for her radio show was located in Chicago. That meant there would have to be a flawless communication link between Chicago, where the radio show is produced, and New York, where a completely different crew directs the one-hour TV show for OWN.

“There needs to be a lot of coordination because [the breaks for radio and TV are different and] there are a lot of hard outs we have to hit precisely each day,” Winslow says.

On top of that, the show (which premiered Jan. 10) operates on some very tight deadlines. Each day, eight receivers hooked up to DirecTV signals are recording material on a variety of topics that King discusses while taking live calls from her audience. King and her staff select those clips on the morning of the show, creating a tight schedule for editing.

To keep New York and Chicago in sync, fiber links were set up so King could get cues from her Chicago radio producers and they could see the camera feeds. The HD feed is delivered to OWN by two separate and redundant fiber and satellite feeds.

For graphics, NEP settled on Chryon. “It is really a fantastic system that ties the whole process together and has saved a lot of time in the work flow from producer to the on-air graphics,” Winslow notes.

Other vendors for the studio include four Sony HXC-100 cameras, a Grass Valley Kayak switcher, Yamaha audio console, Final Cut Pro for editing, and Panasonic plasma displays for the set.

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