KCRA–Doing One-Person Snow Coverage at Donner Ski Ranch

Published On April 13, 2017 | By Mike Carroll | KCRA-TV, Mike's TV News Stories, Shooting News

As I may have mentioned before on this site, at KCRA we invest a lot of time and effort into weather coverage and its impacts and effects. Snow, rain, heat, drought–these elements effect us all, our health, our income, our economies and our paychecks and bills. So they deserve added attention.

Whenever there is snow up in the Sierra-Nevada mountains KCRA has a crew of a reporter and a photographer and sometimes a live truck or satellite truck operator.

Ever since I’ve started doing my own reporter-photographer stories I’ve wanted to do my own one-person snow weather coverage. Today was the day!

On arriving at the newsroom to start my day I was told by Mitch on the assignment desk: “Mike, today’s your lucky day. Sending you up to the snow to get some pictures and send it back.”

I love working with reporters, but I enjoy a long drive and working by myself as well.

The plan was simple: Take a Live TVU backpack transmitter to feed back live weather shots in the Noon, 4 & 5 o’clock shows — and in between the Noon and 4, to drive somewhere and gather some footage and interviews to feed back for VO-SOT (Voice Over-Sound On Tape) stories that the on-air anchors would read.

When I was driving up the road conditions were pretty clear. Rain and getting colder, some snow, but the roads were fine. So I after my noon live weather shots from Cisco Grove, which has excellent wifi, which the TVU transmits over, I drove to Donner Ski Ranch because it was close.

Owner Janet Tuttle, who I’ve interviewed a number of times over the recent years and just last month, spoke with me on and afternoon when all of the sudden the clouds were opening up and there was a near white-out condition.

(Apologies to Janet Tuttle for titling her “Janette” for this story. It is being corrected in subsequent broadcasts at 10 p.m. and in the morning news.)

It’s spring break so a lot of families were up there with their children, another reason I wanted to go to Donner Ski Ranch.

I was only assigned to get enough footage and sound for a couple small stories. But as I was speaking to Janet and the guests there I was getting such great interview reactions that I thought it would be lost if this was used only in the shorter stories. So I shot a little more and spoke with a few more folks.

When I got back to my crew car and started loading the footage into my laptop I called the managing editor Aram Sarkissian and told him I thought could put together a package for the 6. He told me that would be great, but they still needed the footage for the VO-SOTs for the 4 & 5.

No problem, I told him.

This was now approaching 2 p.m. and I still had to drive back to Cisco Grove, edit down the footage I had and pick out the sound bites and feed that back by 3:30 so they could make the VO-SOTs for the 4 & 5, log and write my story, do the live weather shots for the 4 & 5, and edit my package & get it fed back by 5:30 so I could start heading back.

This was a challenge. This is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) when you have a reporter & a photographer. But this is reporter-photographer in one!

But I always like to challenge myself.

In then end, it all worked like clockwork & the station was happy to have a bigger presence on the storm coverage than originally anticipated.

As I’ve said before:

This type of thing takes a lot more work and commitment.

But it’s also a lot more satisfying!

I’d be thrilled to be able to do this every day.

Thanks to KCRA for giving me the freedom to try.


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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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