Med Tech Media Students Visit WBZ TV

Recently, the Medford Technical High School’s Media Technology Program visited the WBZ TV News Station in Brighton.  Our host for the tour was Lisa Hughes, one of the anchors for the evening news.  WBZ is owned by the CBS Corporation.  It s the oldest television station in Massachusetts, established in 1948, and is one of the only stations that also has a radio station affiliated with it, WBZ Radio 1030 AM.  WBZ-TV  was a pioneer in Boston television. In 1948, it began live broadcasts of Boston’s two major league baseball teams, the Red Sox and the Braves.  It was also the first Boston station to have daily newscasts, starting with the station’s very first night on the air. 

Today, WBZ is the only station that carries the Boston Marathon from start to finish.  Lisa Hughes reports from the finish line from 9 AM – 6 PM, while sportscaster Dan Roche, who the students also met on the tour, serves as the public address announcer for the Marathon.  The students presented Lisa with a Medford Strong tee shirt from the MHS Girls Softball Team.  They hope Lisa will wear it on Marathon day.  The softball team sells them every year with all proceeds benefitting the Krystle Campbell Memorial Scholarship Fund.  The team will begin selling them this Friday and continuing until the Annual Krystle Campbell Memorial Softball Tournament, being held April 22nd & 23rd at Columbus Park.  Since its inception, the tee shirts, combined with the tournament, have raised over $45,000 for the scholarship!

WBZ is also the New England Patriots TV station, and they serve as a corporate sponsor for the Pan Mass Challenge.   For years, they exclusively carried the July 4th, Boston Pops Spectacular.  This year, Bloomberg Companies are the new corporate sponsor, so that will probably change.  

The students got to see the newsdesk, the newsroom, the weather desk, and the interview area on set. The studio itself was redone this past summer, with all new LED lights, and more modern decor.  The LED lights makes it much easier to change lighting colors as needed for different broadcasts.  Plus the LED lights are nowhere near as hot as the old lighting fixtures were. The students were told about the Boston Skyline scene behind the news desk.  It certainly looks real, but it is not!  It can be made to look like daytime or nighttime, and the water actually moves!   All of their cameras are robotic, no camera people are utilized.  They were the first station to use the robotic cameras on set.

Lisa Hughes works the evening news, so she arrives at 2 PM, there is a news meeting at 3 PM and generally this is when she will write or re write her script.  Yes, they still utilize handwritten scripts!  A question was raised about how difficult is it to learn to read from a Teleprompter.  Lisa said it is very hard.  You have to keep at it, as there is a steep learning curve.  Some newscasters chose to utilize an iPad, but Lisa works fine with the Teleprompter.

The students asked Lisa who was her favorite interview?  She said, President Barack Obama and the actor Will Smith.  She said President Obama was so approachable and very easy to talk too.  She interviewed him at the White House, a year after the Boston Marathon Bombings.  In addition, she has also interviewed Robert Kraft and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, as well as, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynk of the Boston Celtics.  Lisa did mention that they do not get “snow days”.  They are required to come in and even must plan ahead and stay at a local hotel if necessary, so that they can make their airtime.

The students asked her what they should do if they want to pursue a career in broadcasting.  She encouraged them to take as many writing classes as possible and get their writing critiqued.  “You have to learn how to tell a story.  There is a beginning, middle and an end”.  When looking at colleges, see if they have a college radio station or college newspaper on site.  Those are the colleges you should look for, so you can get experience while in school”, said Hughes.

One student asked her how long she’s been in the field.  “27 years.  I would tell you all to take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you have to move.  I have worked in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, DC, before coming to Boston.  I have been with WBZ for 17 years”, she said.

The students were very grateful that Lisa Hughes was able to spend time with them.  Lisa is an “Honorary Mustang” as her support for this community goes back to her thoughtful reporting on the very beginnings of the Krystle Campbell Peace Garden, and later serving as the Master of Ceremonies for both the Park’s dedication and ribbon cutting, as well as, serving as a member of the advisory board for the Media Technology Program.