It Takes a Small Army to Put on a Veterans Day Parade Broadcast

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

In the remote control room: behind the scenes of WRAL’s coverage of the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 7th.

Even the weather saluted military servicemen and women when it came time for WRAL-TV’s live broadcast of the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade.  The WRAL crew on location kept tabs with the WRAL Weather Center, but the rain stayed away as the annual celebration kicked off the route at 10am on Saturday, November 7.

No Rain on This Parade
“All week, I was in close conversation with our meteorologists and the Ft. Bragg weather team,” said WRAL-TV Director of Local Production Phyllis Parish, who did double duty as the Executive Producer and Line Producer of WRAL’s parade coverage.  “Things did not look promising, early on. In fact, had there been severe storms with lightening, Ft. Bragg would have likely pulled their troops for safety reasons. Thankfully, we had mild weather Friday during set-up and soupy, but rain free weather Saturday…whew!”

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

Watching the weather: WRAL-TV staffers (including Pete Sockett reflected in the center) watch the radar hoping the rain will hold off for the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade.

It took a 30-person WRAL/UNC-TV production team for the live coverage of the Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade.

“I know it sounds like a lot of people, and it is!” said Parish.  “But it takes a big group to pull off a live broadcast, especially a show on the road.”

On the Ground in Fayetteville
WRAL-TV Assignment Editor Jennifer Joyner actually lives in Fayetteville and has worked for WRAL from home since the birth of her first child over a decade ago.  She got to work in-person at the parade.  She explained her role in the coverage to Capcom:

“I was an associate producer for the parade, working under the great leadership of Phyllis Parish,” said Joyner. “In the weeks leading up to the parade, I write all of the parade entry scripts.  Day of, I was on the sidelines along the parade route, making sure the units were in order and communicating pertinent information about the entries back to the director and producer in the truck.”

She enjoys the work so much, she keeps coming back.

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

A team of WRAL staffers including Keyetta Mangum (l to r), Gilbert Baez, Phyllis Parish, Michelle Marsh & Jennifer Joyner work to bring the the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade to viewers on Saturday, November 7th.

“It was my 4th year working on the parade,” said Joyner.  “Living in a military community like Fayetteville, I’m always looking for unique, tangible ways to thank these wonderful men and women for their service.  That’s why it is my honor to work on this broadcast.  To be able to contribute to WRAL’s salute to these heroes is a real privilege to me.”

Parish mentioned Joyner as an integral part of the parade coverage team.

“Everyone on the team works hard setting up Friday and covering the 90-minute parade Saturday morning,” said Parish.  “But I must give a big shout out to producer Jennifer Joyner. She and I began working with Fayetteville’s parade chair well in advance of broadcast day. She’s such a big help with the Order of March, because she lives and works in Fayetteville and knows good background info on many of the parade entries. After the broadcast Saturday, Jennifer called me ‘the captain of the project.’ If that’s true, I’d say she was my co-captain! We have fun working together. It feels like we’re tackling a giant, military puzzle, with ever changing puzzle pieces…by parade day, there are still last minute changes to deal with, but I think this year’s broadcast was one of our best. Plus, we had the highest ratings since WRAL began covering this parade in 2012!”

Parish raved about all of her team, also giving a special shout out to WRAL-TV Studio Broadcast Engineer Tony Gupton.

“I never have to worry about the technical aspect of the parade because I know Tony is on it, no matter what ‘it’ is!” she said.  “He’s Mr. Detail through and through, which is just what you need on a big remote. He’s the first to arrive at the site and the last to leave. Plus, he’s fun to work with, like all of the engineers. Hands down, the best engineering team in the industry.”

Besides the many pros with WRAL-TV, the station also had some extra-special help from some future broadcasters-in-training, the students in Explorer Post 5.

WRAL-TV Digital Media Administrator Steve Elizondo got several photos of Post 5 members enjoying the day.  They started with breakfast with the crew at 7:15am on Saturday.

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

WRAL-TV’s Gilbert Baez talks to students from Explorer Post 5 as they get set for the Fayetteville Veterans Day parade coverage.

“WRAL-TV Reporter Gilbert Baez made a point of sitting down with the Post 5 group – which included Grant Hall, Alissa Brasington, Lamar Brown and Sarah Stewart – to find out about them, and give them a few pointers about learning the ropes in television broadcast,” said Elizondo.

Hall, a senior at Leesville High, acted as cable grip for Greg Clark.  Clark manned WRAL’s brand new steady cam and stayed on the move for the entire broadcast. Brasington pulled cable for WRAL’;s Michael Joyner and Baez.

“All of our Post 5 members said they really enjoyed being involved,” said Elizondo. “The Post 5 members didn’t want to leave before getting a shot with the on air staff and producer Phyllis Parish.  It was a great way to end the day.”

Behind The Scenes
In order to bring the parade live to WRAL viewers, the station had to set up a remote control room.  WRAL-TV Newcast Director/Producer Keyetta Mangum served as Technical Director for the Production and worked in the dark booth during the event.

“The Veteran’s parade this year was totally awesome,” said Mangum.  “From the production set-up to the live execution, the WRAL team worked with a spirit of excellence and it really showed. I enjoy working on the parades because they give me an opportunity to work in the field with some of the best producers/directors, engineers, production crew, and on-air talent.  As the technical director, I operate the switcher inside the remote truck – switching between our six cameras on ground, performing live transitions, and inserting recorded material and graphics as instructed by WRAL’s Director Mick Evans. Looking forward to future productions with this amazing WRAL team.”

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

The WRAL-TV crew sets up for live coverage the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 7th.

Elizondo also had high praise for the crew.

“The entire production team did a really good job of pacing the parade participants, and weaving in comments from veterans,” said Elizondo.  “Everyone felt good about the work as the parade ended and the crowds headed home.”

The people watching the parade in person enjoyed the event as well, from their unique vantage point.

Elizondo captured a photo of some Fayetteville youth who were happy to show their appreciation for our vets.

“There was a good turnout of all ages, and folks did a great job of showing support for our veterans,” he said.

2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade

Parade goer’s line the street to thank veterans at the 2015 Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 7th.

Joyner enjoyed being at the event in person, too.

“Being an assignment editor, I don’t get the opportunity to take part in many WRAL productions,” she said.  “What a treat it is to see my colleagues at work.  From the set-up by our incredible crew to the professionalism by our broadcast staff, I’m just in awe to be a part of it.”

Elizondo echoed her gratitude for the station and the event.

“It was great to see WRAL staff interacting with and being so well received by the people of Fayetteville,” he said.  “The parade and broadcast really could not have gone any better.”

Parish wrapped up her thoughts about the coverage for Capcom:

“This project always makes me proud for a couple of reasons,” she said.  “First, I enjoy watching the collaborative spirit between the WRAL and UNC-TV production teams. Our engineers, directors, camera and audio specialists are topnotch and it shows during our coverage. Most importantly, I’m proud WRAL provides a program to honor the men and women who have served our country. It’s a real good feeling, for all of us who work on this project. We pay tribute to those who have served and we give WRAL’s viewers, UNC’s statewide audience, and those watching the live stream on from all over the word, the chance to acknowledge our service men and women and to thank them for ensuring our nation’s freedom.”

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Steve Elizondo, Keyetta Mangum & Phyllis Parish for these capcom photos.


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