WRAL-TV’s New Low-Tech Set Has Sandy Feet

Local Artist Carves Weather Desk Made of Sand

WRAL Sanddesk

The WRAL Sanddesk

North Carolina CBS affiliate WRAL-TV is celebrating summer in a most unique way, behind a new set made completely of sand. Yes, sand. The outdoor desk was constructed over the last weekend of June and debuted on the morning news on Tuesday, July 1st. The set has been mainly be used for weather.

Raleigh is located about two hours from the beaches of North Carolina. Thousands flock to the beach for the July 4th holiday and summer vacations.

“With early summer temperatures in the 90s already, we’re in a beach state of mind,” says WRAL-TV Vice President and General Manager Steven D. Hammel. “For all those viewers who can’t make it to the coast this summer, we thought we’d bring the sand to them!”

WRAL Lead Designer Bill Burch and local sand sculpture artist, Ed Moore collaborated on the design. The desk features two 3-foot pelicans, a “Peli-prompter,” wooden texture, waves, dolphins and a hidden shark! The desk was constructed using six tons of special sand and water. The packing part of the build, moving the sand into pre-built boxes and packing it down with water, took three men five hours. Once the sand was packed, the boxes were removed and the carving of the sculpture took two men 18 hours over two days. The final product is totally made of sand, took 50 man-hours to make, and measures about eight feet wide, three feet deep and 42 inches high. It’s expected to last up to a month.

Hurricane Arthur couldn’t rain on the SandDesk parade, even when the winds picked up later in the week.

WRAL Sanddesk

The team at American Party Rentals help reinforce the protection for the WRAL Sanddesk during Hurricane Arthur’s effects.

“We took great precautions to preserve the SandDesk from any inland effects of Hurricane Arthur. We did have a few hefty wind gusts here at the station!” said WRAL-TV Creative Director Shelly Leslie.  “Our friends from American Party Rentals saw us trying to handle the winds and offered to come and bring some reinforcements. It takes a village to save a SandDesk!”

Ever the leader in social media, the WRALSandDesk is now tweeting (www.twitter.com/WRALSandDesk) and is gaining a following on its facebook page (www.facebook.com/WRALSandDesk). To handle its fan mail, the desk is responding via email at WRALSandDesk@wral.com.

The Sand has been sandtastic on social media. “He’s” tweeting @WRALSandDesk and has 223 followers. He trended #20 in Raleigh on his birthday, July 1. His Facebook page grew to 826 fans in just a week.

“Shoutout to our brand new WRAL Social Media Manager Wendy Gatlin for her creativity in making the SandDesk LIVE on social media!” said Leslie.

The SandDesk has also been getting attention in the national press:

Watch the interview with the artist, video of the build, photos and the back story on the design on WRAL.com here.

Earlier this year, the station designed and built the WRALIceDesk during record breaking cold, using a local ice-carving specialist. The response was huge, including the WRALIceDesk trending on twitter.  Archive here: http://www.wral.com/wral-ice-desk-inspired-by-cold-snap/13345429/?navkeyword=ice+desk

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Debbie Tullos & Shelly Leslie for contributions to this capcom story & to WRAL-TV’s Bill Burch & various other WRAL staffers for these capcom photos.

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