WRAL-TV Celebrates Digital Transition

WRAL-TV Celebrates Digital Transition

News Director Andrea Parquet-Taylor, Director/Producer Chris Bolanz and Technology Reporter Tom Lawrence celebrate the completion of a goal.

The staff at WRAL-TV has been working incredible hours for the past several months to complete the newscast’s transition to digital. Staffers learned their way around brand new equipment, most of which is so new that the instruction manuals have not yet been written. Operators, directors and producers forged their own way through over 189 miles of cables and wires and endless rehearsals. The end result was WRAL-TV’s transition to its digital newsroom on Sunday, January 28, 2001, for the 11:00pm newscast.

Now the studio is in full celebration mode. WRAL held a VIP reception on Monday, January 29, for an impressive list of special guests from CBS, Panasonic and Sony, executives who helped make the transition possible. About 50 guests poured into the studio for a 5:30pm reception and then a live view of the 6:00pm all-HD newscast. The guests then got a tour of the facility. CBC’s own brass attended the reception as well, with special guest WRAL HDTV Digital Engineer Luther Ritchie, the original HD engineer on the project from the beginning.

Another celebration took place on Tuesday, January 30, a thank you party for the WRAL staff. The event went from 5:30-8:30pm in the ballroom at the Warehouse restaurant in downtown Raleigh. Employees danced, played pool and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and beverages and the opportunity to just let their hair down with their co-workers after so many weeks of hard work. WRAL offered the party “as a small token of appreciation for all the hard, and often heroic, work that has gone into the launch of our HDTV news service…a reception for Channel 5 employees to relax, upconvert some stories, downconvert the problems, and celebrate the accomplishment.”

The well-deserved celebrations had been a long time in the making. WRAL-TV received the first experimental HDTV license in the country on June 19, 1996. Teams worked around the clock to transmit the first digital signal on July 23 that same year; the WRAL team did what should have taken eight to ten weeks in only 34 days. Now, only a few years later, WRAL’s dream has come true. CBC Vice President of HD John Greene, one of the original members of the WRAL conversion team, said, “After envisioning high definition television for over ten years, and actually working on the development of it for over five years, it was a real celebration for WRAL to begin producing the nation’s first and only full HDTV newscasts. Even CBS was impressed enough to send executive staff to Raleigh for the production.”

An HD Transition Special Thank You List

Building Superviser Ron Walker cleans up on the pool table.

The event took place in the ballroom of the Warehouse restaurant in downtown Raleigh.

Accountant Nancy Vester gets some advise on the menu from Anchor David Crabtree.

Director of Special Projects John Harris sinks a shot.

Creative Services Director Cindy Sink & Producer Anita Jones enjoy the evening..

Shipping/Receiving Clerk Vonne Richardson takes a moment of rest from the celebration.

Director/Producer Clarence Williams dressed to the nines for the occassion.

Sales Assistant Leslie Bryant, Amanda Lamb & Education Reporter Yvonne Simons sample the buffet.

John Harris
, VP & General Manager Bill Peterson & Station Manager Jim Griffin can breathe a little easier now that the hurdle of transition is behind them.


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