A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Edenton

Throwback Thursday: CBC History

While I was perusing through old CapCom articles from 1992, I came across an interesting story about a summertime news series, called “one tank get-away” that aired “live” via LIVESTAR 5 during the 5:30 newscast. The series ran on Friday over a four week period during July and August. The feature showcased family-friendly, interesting vacation spots within a short drive from the Raleigh area. Sounds like a forerunner to the “Staycations” that were popular a couple of years ago.

The CapCom article covered the who, what, when, where and why – then out of the blue was a line stating that Tony Gupton, “Mr. LIVESTAR,” wins the “Backdraft” award for clear thinking during a fire in the satellite truck while on the way to Edenton. After that brief mention, the article resumes with ideas about where the news team would like to go for a future get-away adventure. Whaaaat? Whoa! Let’s back up to the part about “fire in the satellite truck while on the way to Edenton.”

Fast forward to June, 2016. I tracked down Tony, AKA “Mr. LIVESTAR”, and asked him to tell me about the time LIVESTAR 5 caught fire back in 1992. Tony smiled, and in his aw-shucks kind of way, told me the story.

So, Tony is rolling eastbound down highway 64 when he smells the telltale acrid stench of something electrical is melting down. That stench tips Tony that trouble is looming within LIVESTAR. The smell is followed by smoke starting to curl out from underneath the dashboard. Then the whole driver’s cabin fills with thick smoke. Tony, barely able to see out his windshield, pulls over to the side of the road and quickly trouble-shoots and isolates the problem. He clips the offending short-circuited wires, but the damage was done. Thankfully the fire only destroyed electrical components for gauges, switches and dials on the dashboard of the cab. At this point, that’s a minor inconvenience. The real question was, does the satellite part of the truck still work? Can you get a signal out? Can we do a live shot? Yes! Yes! Yes to all three questions. Great! Because as we know, the show must go on.

After a successful live-shot featuring all the wonderful, exciting things a family can do on vacation in historic Edenton, it was time to return to Raleigh. But wait. Now it is dark. The headlights don’t work. Remember the fire? How can Tony drive LIVESTAR back to Raleigh in the dark? The answer was teamwork. The “one tank get-away” broadcasts required a squadron of staff and a couple of company cars. One news car led the way, Tony followed closely behind in LIVESTAR, and another car drove behind LIVESTAR. Tony was safely sandwiched between two company cars as the impromptu convoy rolled back to Raleigh.

By-the-way, the first vacation spot featured Pinehurst golf resort. The second week featured the wild side of Asheboro at the North Carolina Zoo. Week three provided fun in the sun at Wrightsville Beach. Week four featured historic Edenton on the North Carolina coast.

The series was produced by Malinda Adams. Rick Armstrong was one of the photogs who coordinated locations. Other photogs included Lori Foushee, Tim King and Bill Jensen. Remote directors were James Ford and the late Tripp Nichols. Crew chief was Raymond Farrar. Engineers included Mike Upchurch, Linda Chaves and Bill Weinel. Field anchors were Donna Gregory and the late Bob Vernon.

LIVESTAR 5 in 1992

Back row L-R: Lori Lair, James Ford, Tony Gupton, Mike Upchurch, Linda Chavez.
Front row L-R: Malinda Adams, Raymond Farrar, Tim King

Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.

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