Television is a funny thing that I think most people take for granted. You sit on your couch, grab your remote, press “power” and start flipping through the hundreds of channels available to you via your satellite or cable provider. Same thing with the internet; you simply go to sites like YouTube, Hulu and others and you have a world of stories on video right at your fingertips. But did you ever pause to consider how these stories get made? What has to happen in order to get them on your screen? I can tell you from personal experience that it takes a LOT of work.

It’s a whole lot more than just grabbing a camera, pressing “record” and then putting it on the web or broadcasting it. Yeah, sure – these days anyone can take a video with their cell phone… but ask yourself, is it any good? Does it look good and sound good? Is the image clean and sharp, or is it shaky? Can you make out details; can you hear what’s going on properly? And more importantly, is it a STORY? I’d argue that much of what passes for “content” (the current buzzword for programming) these days isn’t much of anything. Anybody can take some video with their cell phone. But using that video to tell a story is another thing entirely.

Here at WGBY, we work very hard to bring you the stories of the people and places in this corner of the world that we call home. I’m very lucky to work with a hardworking and dedicated team of trained professionals and incredibly creative people who are passionate about showcasing the wonder and diversity right here in our own backyard. But it takes a lot of work that you never see to do so… for example, a crew of 5 got up very early one day a few months ago and loaded 2 vans worth of equipment, travelling from Springfield to Pittsfield to set up a remote shoot in order to tell several Berkshire County stories. I won’t bore you with technicalities, but I will say that it involves setting up multiple rigs: lights, cameras and microphones. Wiring everything up properly. Recording the interviews. Then the reverse: breaking everything down, packing up and going home. And that’s just the first part…

dave at mt tom

WGBY’s Dave Fraser working on a story on location at Mt. Tom

When back at the station you have to load all of the footage from multiple camera angles and audio tracks into an edit system, and then that’s when a different kind of work begins: taking all of these elements and making a coherent and relevant story out of it. And then there’s the part that even people in the TV business itself sometimes overlook, the work that happens long before those cameras start to roll: the time and effort it takes to identify issues and stories that would make for good content, identify possible interview subjects, the countless emails and phone calls trying to arrange and schedule interviews, the coming up with questions and points to be made during the interview to benefit the viewer…

And that’s just the most cursory overview. Like I said, it’s a LOT of work. But it’s also a LOT of fun! It’s work that we’re happy to undertake, and that we take great pride in. It’s a special thing to be able to tell the stories of the peoples and places that make up the region. We’re finishing up our series of on “On the Road” segments with a visit to Hampshire County soon, and I hope that when you watch those stories – or anything else that you see on TV – you will look at them just a little bit differently after reading this.