Live 5 WCSC to Remain on AT&T U-Verse Lineup For Now

Just to clear up any confusion from an errant post earlier: Live 5 WCSC will remain on the AT&T U-Verse service because of a temporary extension agreed to by both parties. Here is the statement from yesterday:

As you know, Live 5 WCSC has been negotiating with AT&T U-Verse to reach a fair, market-based agreement for carriage of our station. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached an agreement.

However, we have agreed to an extension until February 29. As a result, Live 5 WCSC will remain available on AT&T U-Verse as we continue to negotiate. Our goal is to reach an agreement and there will be no interruption of your service.

Please continue to check back here regularly for further updates.

As always, we sincerely appreciate your support and your viewership.

All of us at Live 5 WCSC wish you the happiest of new years!


A Special Message to AT&T U-Verse Customers

As you know, Live 5 WCSC has been negotiating with AT&T U-Verse to reach a fair, market-based agreement for carriage of our station. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached an agreement.

However, we have agreed to an extension until February 29. As a result, Live 5 WCSC will remain available on AT&T U-Verse as we continue to negotiate. Our goal is to reach an agreement and there will be no interruption of your service.

Please continue to check back here regularly for further updates.

As always, we sincerely appreciate your support and your viewership.

Staying Ahead of the Storm

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in South Carolina. It’s a time when people are encouraged to review with their families what they’d do if a severe storm, like a tornado, would threaten their neighborhood.

As part of that, LIVE 5 WCSC is taking part in a statewide tornado drill at around 9:00am on Thursday. At that time, we will test our severe weather warning equipment. It gives you a chance to see exactly what to look for on the screen in case of a tornado warning, which means that a tornado has been spotted in the area.

You’ll see a crawl on the screen, but remember: it’s just a test.

If you have a NOAA Weather Radio, be sure to turn it on at 9:00am as well, so that you can hear their tornado drill.

The more familiar you are with what to look and listen for during the testing, the more prepared you’ll be if such a storm ever actually makes it your way.

(And we’ll keep our fingers crossed that you and your family will never have to actually use this knowledge.)

Hugo’s TV Havoc

The monster storm that was Hurricane Hugo, which made landfall 20 years ago this week and caused unimaged devastation, wreaked behind-the-scenes havoc at LIVE 5 WCSC as well.

hugomapWith today’s technology, there would have been even more notice and more precise projections of where Hugo was headed. But twenty years ago, despite more primitive forecast technology, LIVE 5’s legendary Charlie Hall remained at the forefront of covering Hugo’s approach and the possibility of a direct hit.

But when it became more and more clear that the storm was headed for the Lowcountry, LIVE 5’s legendary Charlie Hall became more and more determined to stay at his post to report critical information to his audience.

hugo89When engineers, and then the station’s management, pushed him to evacuate, tensions ran high.

“When he came and gave me the order, ‘We have to leave this building,’ not once, not twice but on three occasions, and the third occasion was a shouting match, [I said], ‘No, I don’t want to go, I want to stay here another two or three hours and he wouldn’t allow it,” Hall would later recall.

But in the months to come, Hall would be in for a surprise about the magnitude of his own evacuation.

Meanwhile, as the storm continued to move our way, the remaining personnel at the station evacuated and engineers attempted to pull as much equipment out of the building as possible, certain that what was left behind would almost certainly be destroyed by rising flood waters. A moving van was rented, loaded up with equipment and sent towards Orangeburg County.

From there, live broadcasts originated from the Emergency Operations Center in North Charleston, until high winds knocked that broadcast off the air.

hugo89bAfter Hugo hit, the station’s anchors were forced to broadcast from the transmitter site in Awendaw, a small facility hardly outfitted to look like a television studio. The technical crew raced to get a camera connected so that anchors could go on to continue to cover the aftermath.

Then they realized that no one had brought along a tripod for the camera,” recalls executive producer Jim DeMauro. “So they got duct tape and taped a camera down to a camera shipping box on wheels.” That was how they were able to shoot anchors like Bill Sharpe who appeared in street clothes, unshaven, relaying information as it came in to the makeshift newsgathering center.

A satellite truck that had been used to broadcast images as Hugo first approached landfall was taken to the transmitter site so that directors could switch from camera to camera and get information on the air faster.

And of course, Charlie Hall was there, always the voice of calm, reassuring local viewers that it was going to be all right.

Hall later recalled that after the danger was over, he had pulled in to a gas station and noticed someone following him, desperately trying to flag him down.

“He grabbed my hand while I was still putting gas in the car, and he said, ‘I told my wife if I ever saw you, I was going to stop you and shake your hand.’ And I said, ‘For what?’ And he said, ‘For saving our lives.’ He pointed out that his house on Sullivan’s Island was totally demolished. And he said he and his wife had discussed it, and said they planned to stay there until they saw Charlie Hall leave. And this guy was dead serious,” Hall said.

“To me, knowing that what I did or didn’t do…and somebody reacted to that, that they left the low-lying beaches, and he came back to a totally-demolished house, and they would have likely lost their lives” was a profound moment that Hall said he’d never forget.

Life Immitating Art

On the brand new CBS show, ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, actress Jenna Elfman portrays a woman in her late thirties who’s having a baby.

In real life, the same thing seems to be happening.

Elfman told THE EARLY SHOW‘s Julie Chen that she and her husband are expecting their second child. But unlike her TV character, this baby-to-be isn’t an accident.

“My character’s pregnant the whole first season, so I said, ‘It’s a good time to have another baby, because we won’t have to hide it,'” Elfman said.

Congratulations to the couple and to the cast and company of ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, which premieres tonight at 8:30pm on LIVE 5 WCSC.

Bad Time for a Station Break

A few viewers have called or emailed us to let us know their concerns about a commercial break that briefly interrupted coverage of President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.

One viewer wrote:

“…Never before has this happened in the middle of a Presidential speech—-why now?”

The answer is simple: coverage ran longer than CBS led us to believe it would. Earlier in the evening, the Network was able to provide our master control team with a specific time of a commercial break that was supposed to air during CRIMINAL MINDS. presidential-sealThat’s the show that should have been on the air when the errant commercial break actually happened.

So our broadcast equipment was scheduled to air the break at that specific time, a time we were told to air it.

In a perfect world, all would have gone smoothly. But when the coverage went longer than planned, this one computer setting, unfortunately, did not get changed, and that’s why the commercial break aired at its originally-scheduled hit-time.

We hope that our longtime viewers already know that LIVE 5 WCSC certainly did not interrupt coverage intentionally, and we’re sorry that this one detail got missed during this live event.

We value our viewers and we appreciate those who took the time to raise their concerns about the mishap to us.

Thanks So Much!


The final local tally for the 44th ANNUAL JERRY LEWIS MDA TELETHON was $229,184.

Thanks so much to Lowcountry viewers who were so generous despite the rough economy. The money raised today will stay right here in our area, helping local families affected by any of the various neuromuscular diseases the Muscular Dystrophy Association is fighting.

Behind the scenes, Live 5 WCSC producer Mike Rabon was awarded an MDA Broadcast Journalism award. Rabon received the Gold Award for Special Event Feature. Rabon, along with executive producer Jim DeMauro, produces the video presentations featuring local children battling Muscular Dystrophy in one of its many forms and the efforts to help them live normal lives and raise money to find a cure.

Live 5 WCSC aired the telethon from 9:00pm on Sunday through 6:30pm on Monday. This was our 32nd airing of the event.

One Idea ‘Prompts’ Another

It began as a crazy idea, but suggested for the right reason.

As the story goes, legendary CBS producer and 60 MINUTES creator Don Hewitt suggested that Douglas Edwards, CBS’s first news anchor, learn braille so that he could “read” his script copy while still looking at the camera. Edwards wasn’t wild about that idea, so Hewitt came up with a Plan B: cue cards.

Hewitt’s idea was based on a simple, but important point: news viewers like eye contact from a news anchor. They don’t want to watch someone who looks down at their script all the time. Cue cards helped Edwards look towards the camera without looking down.


The script appears reflected in a mirror in front of the lens, allowing anchors to maintain eye contact while still reading their scripts.

Problem solved.

In the old days, prompters used a small black-and-white camera that was aimed at actual paper copies of the script that were taped together in long strips. The paper was wheeled beneath the camera on a conveyor belt, and as the camera photographed the script, it was projected onto the mirrors. If something went wrong and a producer had to suddenly drop a story or move it down later into the broadcast, the prompter operator had to feverishly untape the pages and shuffle things around, while simultaneously not losing his place with the spot where the anchor was reading live on the air.

As you can imagine, this created some hectic moments.

But computers have made things a whole lot easier. Now, the prompter monitor is generated electronically. When a producer makes a decision to move a story, they do so on a computer terminal, and the prompter is automatically updated.

There’s an interesting footnote to this story.  A producer behind another legendary CBS show, I Love Lucy, claims credit for devising the original teleprompter system.  But either way, Hewitt was clearly one of the first to propose a way to have a script in clear view near the cameras.

So thanks to this critical piece of equipment that can be found in almost every television studio, news anchors can look viewers “right in the eye” without having to memorize pages of scripts at a time. It’s yet another reason people who work in the news business continue to be impacted by Hewitt’s ideas.

By the way, here’s a look at our studio from our anchors’ perspective.  Each camera is outfitted with a prompter so that no matter which camera is on the air at a given moment, the script is already there and waiting.


Live 5's Debi Chard and Bill Sharpe on set for Live 5 News at 6.


The Secret of the Green Wall


Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh tracks severe weather on the green wall.

The same “green screen” technology that movies use to insert special effects has been a mainstay of television news for decades. It’s called a “chroma key” effect. The chroma refers to color, in our wall’s case, a bright green, and the key refers to electronically replacing everything green with the weather maps and graphics.

So how do our meteorologists know what they’re pointing at when there’s nothing really there?


Meteorologist Chad Waston tracking storms off the coast during Live 5 News at Noon.

Simple: there are monitors on either side of the wall, so they can look to the left or right, towards the radar image, and see where they are pointing. There’s also a monitor right on the camera below the lens, so that they can look straight ahead at the viewer and still see themselves and where they’re pointing.

But even with a monitor showing you where you’re pointing, it’s still harder than it looks. Think of looking at a map: if the top of the page is pointing north, then you’d point to the west by pointing to the left side of the page. But when you’re standing in front of the map facing the camera, you’d point to your right so you’d appear to be pointing to the west on camera!

The next question we get is, “Why green?” Green and blue tend to be furthest from flesh tones, so they’re the two colors used most often. Green is a better choice than blue because if the wall were blue, it would eliminate close shades of blue from wardrobe choices. Green is a little less common in ties and suits than blue, so green makes more sense as the color to eliminate.

If one of our meteorologists wore green, especially a light, vibrant green the same color as the wall, what he was wearing would “key out,” and you’d see the map instead of the clothes. It’s not x-ray vision, but it would make him look like “the invisible man.”

So now you know how one of the oldest, continually-used TV news special effects works! And keep checking the LIVE 5 INSIDER blog for more behind the scenes secrets!

Sharpe Remembers Cronkite

LIVE 5 WCSC’s own Bill Sharpe had an interesting encounter with CBS anchor Walter Cronkite while shooting footage for a promotional campaign in the late 1970s. Here’s his memory of the shoot and the anchor himself:

I was probably 27 or 28 years old, and I flew up to New York to do what we in the business call a “promo shoot.” As I was escorted into the CBS News studio, I was scared to death! After all,  I was about to meet and be a part of a promotion shoot with a man whom I had seen in my living room for years as I was growing up in Charleston.

Suddenly, there he was! He was gracious and yet ready to get the shoot done. I remember he made some suggestion to let me know he was going to look after me!


Walter Cronkite at his desk on his last day as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

When It was time for the shoot, I told myself to just make sure I could talk! We did several “takes” promoting Live 5 News and CBS, and then it was done! I had made it ! It was only afterwards when I saw the tape that I realized how scared I was! You could see it in my eyes!

I remember how down to earth Uncle Walter was, and even though I was talking to the “most trusted man in America”, I never felt there was any condescension in his voice. He was just an older, more experienced anchorman trying to help this “greenhorn” anchorman from Charleston.

Years later, I interviewed Walter at least twice when he came to Charleston on his Yacht. Each time he was kind and decent to me, and yet always professional!

I will always be impressed The Great Man himself always made time to talk to “local yokels” like me! We will miss his honest, integrity and just plain decency. The camera can detect a “phony” a mile away. And there was nothing put-on about Walter Cronkite. What you saw, was what you got!

It’s something I think we need a lot more of today.

Cronkite is being laid to rest this afternoon. The service will be carried live online at starting at 12:30pm.