Behind the Scenes

A GUIDE TO BIG-TIME TV
(from the sales perspective)

  • SWITCHER - Piece of equipment on which all of the video sources are laid out in random order. Remember, when in doubt - take black.

  • VIDEO - Pictures. Without these, big time TV would be big time radio.

  • AUDIO - Never mind. No one cares about this.

  • DIRECTOR - Someone who can count backwards with authority and probably owns a stopwatch.

  • PRODUCER - Someone who owns a digital stopwatch.

  • ARTIST - What the director thinks he is.

  • SCHMUCK - What everyone else thinks the director is.

  • CHYRON - Bastard child of Ms. PacMan, which puts letters and numbers on the screen. Also useful for doubling the effectiveness of the 40 seconds the weatherman has on the air.

  • EDITOR - Someone who can make the most amount of words match up with the least amount of video in the shortest possible amount of time.

  • NEWS - An illusion created by two people talking fast for 45 seconds.

  • ENGINEER - Not much is known about these, since there are so few in captivity. They work Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, and are not home on weekends. They also become invisible when called.

  • "SCOPE" - A green phosphorescent device used to lure and trap engineers.

  • TRANSMITTER - A big machine resembling an oversized refrigerator with meters. Standing too close to one for more than an hour will cause your brain to malfunction. Standing too close to one for more than two hours will turn you into an engineer.

  • TALENT - What everyone has, except you.

  • CAMERA - A device used to take pictures. The pointed end goes toward the scene you want to photograph.

  • MICROPHONE - Makes audio insignificant.

  • VIDEOTAPE - Black stuff that works like film, except you can't see through it. Invented in the 50s to give engineers something to do.

  • CREW - Type of haircut favored by engineers; or, a collective name for the group of people who cover up for the director.

  • COMMERCIALS - What the station is on the air to broadcast.

  • PROGRAMMING - Material to fill the time between the commercials.

  • "THE GOOD OLD DAYS" - A block of time that ended about a week before you started in this business.

  • SCHEDULE - A system designed to maximize your enjoyment of big time TV by having you spend most of your time there.

Light Bulb Jokes

Q: How many Chyron operators does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Fuor

Q: How many live truck operators does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The light was leaving here fine - the problem must be out on YOUR end.

Q: How many assignment editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: WHAT? There's a LIGHT BULB OUT??? I'll make some calls.

Q: How many news anchors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one to hold the bulb, while the world revolves around them.

Q: How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It's too late to make any more changes!

Q: How many News Directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: "Send everybody. I want to open with a live shot."

Q: How many sports anchors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I don't know.. isn't it on the wires?

Q: How many sales executives does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I don't know, how many can you afford?

Q: How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What did you do to it? Never mind, fill out this "maintenance request form" in triplicate, and leave it on the bench.

Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but before it's all over, they're gonna change ALL the light bulbs.

Q: How many reporters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three.. two.. one.

Q: How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It's okay, I unscrewed the bulb for the dramatic effect!

Q: What's the difference between God and a news anchor?
A: God doesn't think he's a news anchor.

Q: How many station department heads does it take to change a light bulb?
A: You know, this issue strikes at the very heart of one of our core competencies. We need to think outside the box, and be proactive on this. Here is the bottom line: at the end of the day, we need to leverage our knowledge base and find a viable solution that fits synergistically. All right people, let's put together a game plan that makes sense, and tomorrow we'll touch base and see where we're at on this.

Q: How many Business Managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Did you requisition this bulb? If so, I haven't signed off on it. Oh and by the way, once it's approved in Movaris make sure you order online through Staples. The $.03 credit will show up on your repair and maintenance line next month.

Q: How many General Managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: (Assistant:) He'll give you an answer as soon as he gets back from golf with a very important customer, but I'm sure he's going to want to know why we need to replace it, since it's only been out for a few days.

Q: How many Promotions people does it take to change a light bulb?
A: If this light bulb isn't changed soon----your FAMILY, your HOME, even your DOG-may all be at risk! Change this bulb tonight or you may spend a lifetime in darkness!

Let It Snow

To: All ActionEyewitnessTVNews Personnel
From: News director
Subject: Snow coverage.

  1. We mobilize "full team coverage" whenever snow is predicted, is falling or has fallen. We also do it if snow might fall. Or if it happens to be January, February or March.

  2. Backdrop graphics: Before it snows, the sign on screen should read, "Snow on the Way?" If we get 1 to 2 inches, it's "Snow Emergency!" Three to 7 inches: "Killer Storm!" Anything more, we run with "Avalanches, Cannibalism Feared."

  3. Anchors: Use dramatic verbs, even for minimal snow totals.
    Bad: "The region received a dusting today."
    Better: "Snow paralyzed/pummeled/blasted/buried the Washington area today."
    Better still: "Armageddon."

  4. Reporting locales: The overpass. The city salt hut. The big-box hardware store. The supermarket (remember: Any market in which three shoppers are buying milk, bread or toilet paper simultaneously constitutes "panic buying").

  5. Interview subjects: Anyone out walking or driving in snow. (Required question: "You're walking/driving . . . in THIS weather?") Cute kids home from school. The first guy to buy a shovel at Home Depot.

  6. Best winter-weather footage, in terms of ratings: a) Car/bus failing to climb icy hill; b) More impressive snowfall somewhere else; c) Two cars skidding into each other (will accept video of this occurring ANYWHERE in U.S.).

  7. Advice to weather forecasters: "Snow" is a terribly overused word. Instead, use weathery sounding words such as "precip" or "wintry mix." When in doubt, fall back on "the white stuff."

  8. As soon as the snow stops, go with new graphic: "Winter Wonderland!"

And never admit we got the forecast wrong. Bundle up!

"My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest joke in the world." »» George Bernard Shaw