‘Squawk Box’s’ New Set Debuts With Quick Fix Features

Multiple set components can be adjusted or moved at fast speeds
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NEW YORK—Wall Street runs at a blazing speed, so it is fitting that CNBC’s “Squawk Box” can do the same. Now residing in a street front studio at the NASDAQ building in Times Square, “Squawk Box’s” new studio was designed to set up and break down in a New York minute.

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“Squawk Box” wanted its new location to be in the heart of the action, according to Steve Fastook, senior vice president of technical operations for CNBC. However, while being at the NASDAQ studio allows for viewers to see people as they come into work every morning in the background of the show, it also means that “Squawk Box” can’t be idle when the cameras are turned off at 9 a.m. The show’s new studio also serves as the studio used for ringing the opening bell at 9:30, meaning “Squawk Box” has to be completely cleared in a half-an-hour. That was the motivation for most of new studio features.

The most visible of these is the new desk, weighing in at an estimated 3,000 pounds. “Beautiful and portable don’t necessarily go together,” said Fastook. “The more beautiful it is the heavier it is, the heavier it is the harder it is to move. So we had to come up with something that would be durable enough that we could move around every day.” To do so, the desk is made of plexi-glass and the crew has designed a special protocol that enables them to move it quickly and safely as to maintain its pristine look.

Contributing to that look is the fact that CNBC also eliminated some of the clutter that can typically be found on desks with monitors, PCs and other devices. The desk was built to house all of those needs underneath the glass, with a special design that allows for all of it to fit and work with the desk’s unique 57-degree angles.

Putting elements of the set at a 57-degree angle was a huge part of the design for “Squawk Box,” as monitors at the back of the set are also configured to incorporate that angle. Again, though, with NASDAQ coming in after them and using a standard 16x9 framework for the monitors in the studio, “Squawk Box” had to come up with another adjustable solution. “There’s a custom bracket that changes the height and rotates [the monitors] from 57-degrees to zero literally at a push of a button that unlocks it,” said Fastook.

Filming from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., the morning light also changes rapidly throughout the show and throughout the year, so to handle those quick adjustments, “Squawk Box” implemented a polarizing filter that’s embedded in the glass in the back of the studio as well as the front of the camera. The camera filter is on a motorized spinning wheel controlled in the video room that is capable of making the set look darker or brighter to balance with the available sunlight. Consisting of all LED lights, the studio also has flexibility with the color of its lights based on season or time of day.

After nearly an eight month process, the new “Squawk Box” studio debuted Wednesday, Nov. 15. The desk was built by Showman Fabricators and the Lighting Design Group lit the studio.