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Anchor Make-Up Artists Valuable as Twin Cities goes Local HD

The knowing added detail afforded to HD viewers by 720p and 1080i transmissions has hardly been lost of local news anchors—whose livelihood (sadly) could depend on how they look when suddenly every potential wrinkle and blemish are magnified on large-screen DTV sets. It’s especially noteworthy when three local stations in one large market transition into local HD within weeks of each other.

In the Twin Cities (DMA 15) up until last month, only KARE-TV had been airing its news in HD (and that started three years ago). Joining the HD club in early May was KMSP-TV — and at 5 p.m. on May 30, WCCO-TV took the plunge into 1080i. The last holdout, KSTP-TV, likely will make the transition later this summer.

Despite the much-publicized June 12 cut-off date, no DTV stations are technically required to air any HD at all, per se. Local competition is propelling the current ramp-up to local HD (although in some markets some of the last stations to make the jump are also the highest-rated).

Because of the HD leap, the Twin Cities stations are giving their anchor make-up routines a new look, too, so to speak. Although none of the broadcast outlets currently employs its own HD make-up expert fulltime, two stations have called on the same artist to help them out. Bonnie Erickson, who ironically lost her fulltime job with KARE-TV in late 2008, now consults for two of its competitors — WCCO-TV and KMSP-TV — according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In the new HD environment, when it comes to touching up one’s facial features, more may be less, Erickson said “if your make-up becomes an issue — or your ‘non-make-up’ becomes an issue — then viewers don't hear what you're saying. You don't want the audience wondering, ‘What was she thinking?’”

“We're all getting older, and the [screen] definition is getting better," said KARE-TV meteorologist Belinda Jensen. (She’s 40.) “I don't know if those two roads are actually going in the same direction. I think they're a screaming highway going north and south,” she told the St. Paul paper.