WMGT-TV turns to tapeless acquisition for relaunch of local news coverage

The Macon, GA-station will return to the air with local newscasts after a 12-year interruption in news operations.
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After a 12-year hiatus, local news operations will return to WMGT-TV in Macon, GA, on Labor Day. Currently, the station is completing a rehab of the second-floor of its 105-year-old building to house the newsroom.

WMGT-TV in Macon, GA, will re-commence local news operations after a 12-year hiatus Monday, Sept. 6.

The NBC-affiliate plans to propel its re-emergence into news with heavy promotion during the network’s Olympic coverage (Aug. 11-29) and is planning to sustain interest in its local news as viewers watch political coverage.

In an age of consolidation, convergence and cost-cutting in television news, the most remarkable thing about the new launch is perhaps that it’s being done at all.

While some larger market stations have cut back, and others have consolidated news operations with sister stations, WMGT-TV, which is owned by Morris Multimedia in Savannah, GA, is spending more than $1 million on capital equipment to bring a new voice in local news to viewers in the 122nd largest DMA.

The next most startling thing about the station’s decision to get back into news is the way station manger George Jobin decided to go about it. “We are trying not to be cheap,” he said. “When we decided to do this, we were trying to think ahead and that’s why we decided that all news acquisition was going to be tapeless.”

According to station news director Mark Wildman, news crews will rely on the JVC DR-DV5000 camcorder to shoot video directly to hard drive. Editing will be done with workstations running Adobe Premiere.

Going tapeless is an important element of the station’s strategy for maximizing news coverage. “Just look at the cost of DVC Pro,” Jobin explained. “We can put together four nonlinear stations for the cost of one DVC Pro. I’m certain that turning to tapeless acquisition will save us $150,000 for edit bays and associated tape costs.

“Without a doubt, we were able to buy the live ENG truck with that money.”

According to Wildman, the station will pick up its ENG vehicle from Television Engineering in St. Louis next week. After tests and accepting delivery, the truck will provide the news operation with live shots from most locations in the station’s DMA.

The station renovated the second floor of the 105-year-old WGMT-TV building complete with news studio and control room. It will rely on a Thomson Grass Valley brand 250 production switcher, an Inscriber character generator and a Wheatstone audio board for audio and video control. News clips will be stored and played back from a Spencer Technologies server.

The station plans to add 25 people to its staff. Fifteen will fill various news positions, including a full-time engineer to work with the news operation, and the other 10 will fill various production roles.

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