Inside NBC12’s Inauguration Coverage
We are back in Richmond after three and a half very cold days in the Nation’s Capital. We met and featured many local people from Central Virginia during our coverage. I thought you’d like to see some of the behind the scenes stuff that never made it on to TV.
This was our first brush with a crowd on Sunday. We are on our way up the escalator of the Smithsonian exit of the D.C. Metro. Rarely were there any exits or entrances to metro stations that weren’t packed. That is our Field Manager Matthew Harris who played an important role in making sure we filed all of our stories and got to our live shots on time.
To see more behind the scenes pictures click here.
This was our satellite truck location at the corner of 7th and Madison. There were probably 100 trucks just like this up and down the street. We were working with a number of stations from our media group Raycom. The guy in the warm Eskimo hat is Matt Neese. He was in charge of the truck, which was no easy task. He actually had to spend the night there on Monday night into Tuesday morning. If we were live on the air, it didn’t matter if it was 5am or 11pm, Matt was the one beaming the signal into the heavens. Not only did he do it for us, but also for about 5 or 6 other stations across the country.
On Sunday and Monday we broadcast our live shots out of NBC’s bureau which is near Union Station and has that incredible view of the capitol dome. I was a little late getting in place on Sunday because of the hectic nature of getting to and from wherever you were going in D.C. The nice thing about this live location was that it looked great, but was really warm. NBC’s network studio was the next studio over. Sabrina Squire and I ran into Lester Holt and Chuck Todd in the hallway. Chuck even wrote a nice note and gave an autograph for a friend of Sabrina’s. Later in the week, our photographer Dwight Nixon ran into Brian Williams and the morning crew was there during the Today Show broadcast. NBC treated us very well, despite all of the extra work they had to cover the inauguration.
The best part of the trip, was meeting Central Virginians and hearing their stories about what brought them to Washington. The Dulog family brought their three young daughters up on Monday to see the sights and sounds, but avoid the crowds. They may have had the right idea. They were able to get in and out of D.C. with relative ease and they walked right up to the capitol steps and heard Yo-Yo Ma rehearse for Tuesday’s performance. They watched the actual Inauguration in their warm Richmond home.
One of the great things about covering a major event is getting the chance to work with journalists from other markets in the U.S. We worked very closely with the crew from WMC-TV, in Memphis, TN. They are a Raycom and NBC station, so we had a lot in common. Ursula Madden (in the middle) is an anchor and reporter and Tammy Phillips is the station’s Assistant News Director. We helped each other gather video and get from place to place. Tammy and Ursula were part of a live one hour show that aired back in Memphis on Monday night. They both worked incredible hours. Ursula was literally live in every newscast on Monday and Tuesday.
This is where I reported from on Monday night. The MSNBC set was to my immediate left. You can see how even at that late hour, the mall was still buzzing with people. MSNBC had a constant crowd of people huddled around their set around the clock for at least two days. You can probably tell that I am cold. At this point I did not have any ear protection, which was a pretty stupid thing to do.
The wisest move we made was taking advantage of a car service to get us into the city on Tuesday morning. Our original plan had us attempting to get on the Metro at 4am and battling the crowds that morning. We were all dreading that scenario because we did not get to our house in Maryland until 1:30am Tuesday morning. However our driver happened to stop by the house that night and said he could take us in at 8am. That gave us about four extra hours of sleep and allowed us to avoid those crazy metro crowds. It also made us look like big wigs, because the car was an Escalade. This is my paparazzi photo of Sabrina, getting out of the car.
Once we got to the mall, my photographer and I Dwight Nixon, just got to work. We had a list of Richmond people and cell phone numbers to try and connect with them, but cell service was sketchy at best and weaving in and out of the crowd was not easy. So we tried a different journalistic tactic, we just started asking people if they were from Richmond. It worked out really well. We found a Church Hill School that took their entire class to the big event, a college student who grew up in the fan. and a family that brought their young son and left Central Virginia at 3 am. There were so many stories, our biggest problem was that we didn’t have time to tell them all.
This picture gives you somewhat of an idea of how far away we were. We were not very close, but with a million people in attendance we had a better view than about 750 thousand of them. Our press credentials did not get us up close and personal, but they did give us the flexibility to weave in and out of the crowds a bit easier. The crowd, for the most part was pretty friendly. Most people were just too cold to deal with anything but trying to stay warm.
This was our live location on the Mall on Tuesday. As you can see Matthew Harris provided me with ear protection which made a world of difference. I also could not take off my Buffalo Bills gloves, for fear that my hand would freeze to the microphone. Those Bills gloves made a few appearances on TV. I am sure it made a few Western NY transplants now here in Richmond smile. I hope I didn’t offend any Redskins fans.
This photo may have captured our working conditions the best. This was the scene inside our satellite truck, basically the only warm place we could hide in. There are a few people in this small place that you can’t even see. We had about three laptops, two editing stations and all the satellite equipment all going at the same time. All of that equipment in our traditional newsroom would have been spread out over a pretty large portion of the building. We all got to be much closer friends then we may have intended. In the left hand corner is Matt Butner, another photographer who worked around the clock. Matt was working with Aaron Gilchrist so he was up at the crack of dawn and worked as late as we did Tuesday night.
Here is a shot of our crew right after we finished our last live shot on Tuesday night. Sabrina Squire, me, Matthew Harris and Dwight Nixon. We looked very relieved. It was a very big effort, but one well worth the work. When we got back to Richmond we learned that our coverage scored big ratings back home. It was a true pleasure to work with these incredible journalists. I am already looking forward to the next big event.