WOOD-TV Reports Live With TVUpack

WOOD-TV’s Ken Kolker reports live as station photographer Larry Gron uses a TVUpack to get video back to the station.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.—As the number one station in our market, WOOD-TV has always taken pride in delivering excellent coverage of breaking news, weather and investigative stories.

In expanding our newsgathering operations during the past year, we’ve implemented a number of technologies to help us better capture the story and get the best coverage possible. One of the tools we use is the TVUPack cellular ENG transmission system.

TVUPack provides a flexible system for delivering live video from various locations where using a live truck isn’t practical. A seven-day period in early January this year provides a good example of how we were able to put the TVUPack through its paces in covering important stories in multiple states.

We first used the TVUPack when we travelled to California to cover Michigan State’s football program as it prepared for the Rose Bowl. Since we didn’t have to rent a satellite truck, we were able to cover the game more cost-effectively than in the past, while delivering more live shots. With the TVUPack we could go live from many locations, from the pep rallies around Pasadena to the football field after the game. The ability to go live on the field following the Rose Bowl win for the Spartans can’t be understated, as the game was a really big story in our market and the technology allowed us to cover the playing field in a way that we couldn’t have done with a satellite truck or a prepackaged piece delivered via FTP.

Later the same week, we had a major fire in Grand Rapids that burned a significant portion of a minor league baseball park. After securing approval from the fire department, we used the TVUPack to go live from inside the ballpark while the flames were still being put out. The resulting images provided an excellent perspective on the kind of damage that had taken place.

A few days later, much of the Midwest was thrown into a deep freeze by winter storms, resulting in significant whiteout conditions. We used the TVUPack to take our viewers to places where live trucks couldn’t go. The extreme weather conditions caused problems with our ENG trucks, but the TVUPack never failed, allowing us to go live from inside a snow plow cab while the operator drove.

Backpack journalism is no longer a novelty. The TVUPack has become a necessary tool for our reporters. Although backpack transmitters such as the TVUPack shouldn’t be considered an outright replacement for live trucks just yet, the technology has proven advantageous for traveling camera crews and for immediate breaking news as it allows us to get on location faster than we ever could with a truck.

Rebecca Sapakie is news director at WOOD-TV. She may be contacted atrebecca.sapakie@woodtv.com.

For additional information, contact TVU Networks at 650-969-6732 or visit www.tvupack.com.