Doing it Live!


I first did television, back in the seventies, after a few years as a morning show host on a GTA radio station. Both of my current television shows are now in season four, so you would think I have the hang of it… really. There is a fair amount of stress associated with pre-recording episodes, but you always have a buffer of being able to ‘fix’ things in post-production.


Last week, I had the pleasure of anchoring the election night for Durham Region, on Rogers TV, and it was live. After a few hours in the studio, I became familiar with the format and the technology, appreciating what could go wrong and making numerous notes. I sat in the studio, staring at three cameras and being wired for sound. I also wore an earplug, where the control room planned to constantly feed me information.


I was staring at the clock, rehearsing my opening, when I heard the voice in my ear saying five seconds to graphics… roll graphics… bring up JVB‘s microphone… 3 seconds - 2 - go. I knew, from that moment on, whatever I said for the next three hours, could not be taken back. One of the network’s largest viewing audiences would hear every word I said.


There was a constant activity taking place behind the cameras. People walking, guests being ushered in and out of the studio, monitors displaying up to the second data, and continuous instructions in my ear. Producers, who were constantly re-arranging formats, would fire out directions, “Cut to guest in 15 seconds.” - “John Henry has been confirmed” - “Telephone interview live in 20 seconds,” and so on.


It took about 15 minutes for me to relax a bit and carry on normal conversations with guests in the studio, and those who came to us by telephone.


My guest host, Taylor Bursey, was amazing and filled in the gaps as well as bringing a lot of interesting information to the table. The camera people, audio engineers, directors, producers and the army of people responsible for feeding me up-to-the-minute election results, were simply amazing.


I was humbled and honoured to have been involved in this fantastic display of technology. I was extremely impressed by all the people who made it work, and made it work seamlessly. They certainly made my job much less stressful than I anticipated.


Congratulations to all those who won the various ridings, but more important, congrats to all who put your names forward in an effort to make a difference. I commend you for stepping up to the plate at a time when we are inundated with negative chatter on social media, economic woes in our daily lives and global issues, which affect us all.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.


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