A man was laughing and talking to a woman until his look suddenly turned serious and he began talking to himself. The woman sternly said “standby” causing a group of people to stop moving and talking. Immediately after the man and woman looked up and loudly began talking to the wall about the Ebola virus. Then quickly the topic changes and another man is pointing at different areas of a blank screen as if there was actually something on it.
Surprisingly, these people are not crazy. They’re news anchors for WILX, the Lansing area news station. And although they look perfectly normal on TV, behind the scenes the weather map is simply a green screen and the viewers at home are just a camera with a wall behind it. And they communicate back and forth to the control room through tiny microphones in their ear. It just looks a little crazy to the ‘Smile You’re on Camera’ class who spent their Monday evening, watching them go live in the studio—live.
“It was quite surreal because I always imagined myself sitting in that chair, looking into that camera. And then going home and eating a big bowl of popcorn thinking ‘that’s me on TV’,” Sidney Sparks said.
These MIPA students got to speak with professional anchors Lauren Evans and Jason Colthorp (a.k.a. crazy man and woman talking to a wall). Besides talking about how everything works in the newsroom, Colthorp told a story of how his news blooper of hesitating on air went viral and even made it to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. And yes, it’s still on the internet.
Besides meeting internet stars, the ‘Smile You’re on Camera’ kids were inspired by these broadcast journalists who have the career they potentially want in the future.
“It was a real eye opener,” Sparks said. “To see exactly what I could be doing about ten years down the road.”