We watch A-Channel during the week sometimes, while cooking dinner and playing along with Jeopardy. We do so mostly because their weather guy, Bruce Williams, comes on with “Watch and Win”. A call-in contest where you can win anything from gift certificates to Canucks tickets.
This past Saturday A-Channel opened its doors from 11am to 4pm and had a general open house for the public. Now, I’ve had my share of tours and the CBC tour from last weekend was still fresh in my mind, but man – was this ever a cute lil station.
A-Channel is a part of the Chum group, along with the likes of CityTV and Much Music. It’s got that “behind the scenes” look to its newscast and the building is nothing like the concrete bunker that is the CBC. It’s a converted warehouse with neat little nooks n crannies. For example, there are “hydrants” in various places along the walls. They look like water pipes for firefighters to tap into but they’re loaded with connectors and plugs in case the wireless on your laptop craps out in the middle of a broadcast and you need to get a connection.
The first stop on the tour was a little station where guests could sit at a news desk and read a teleprompter. One brave guy sat up there and read, and about 4 minutes later they handed him a DVD of his performance.
We meandered through marketing and editing suites, then down to the audio room. We got autographs from Bruce Williams then had a chat with Hudson Mack – the news anchor.
In another room there was a green screen set up by the creative teams. They asked for volunteers then played clips of stock footage behind them as the crowd participant danced around in front of the green screen. The results were displayed on the TV and were quit funny. The best was when we were in the main room, getting a speech on mass media and journalistic integrity from Hudson Mack, but all the TVs in the room were displaying a little kid dancing around in front of the green screen – flying with geese and swimming in the water with Jaws. It was REALLY hard to keep a straight face.
After the tour we were all given a ticket for a free hot dog, pop and chips. On top of that, we were loaded with swag: stickers, little foam microphones, thundersticks and balloons. The staff were so hospitable and the on-air talent were really down to earth.
All I could think about in that audio booth with the sound guy was, “I bet John could get a job doing this kinda thing.” But I don’t think we’re ready to be moving out of town any time soon.