By Eva Barrows
As Peninsula and Silicon Valley voters cast their ballots in the November 6th midterm elections, three cable access stations came together to cover the momentous turnout with two hours of live election coverage. KMVT 15 Silicon Valley Community Media, CreaTV San Jose, and the Midpen Media Center in Palo Alto each produced live studio segments for broadcast on cable channel 27. In preparation for the live show, the executive directors of each media center worked together to design the show three weeks before election day. Studio tech departments worked together to test logistics and equipment, while show producers rounded up hosts and guests, and finalized set design.
The live election coverage began in the KMVT 15 studio with interviews of current candidates in local level races. Precinct voter return slides were presented between segments courtesy of Midpen.
CreaTV took the baton with a special edition of Valley Politics featuring regional pundits and race prediction charts and graphs. Pre-recorded opinions from voters on the street served as bumpers between studio segments. At 8:40 p.m. Midpen’s studio went live with Jay Thorwaldson, former editor of Palo Alto Weekly in conversation with current Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss and former mayor Pat Burt.
Studio shows shot at the Midpen Media Center are rarely broadcast live because the content doesn’t usually require it. So for longtime producer Becky Sanders the experience of broadcasting live was a challenge and a rush. Sanders’ excitement soon turned to frustration when the 8:40 p.m. segment ran into transmission problems. Engineer Chris Pearce, in coordination with studio technicians, was able to solve the issue after some troubleshooting.
The second Midpen produced segment featured host Henrietta Burroughs, two in-studio guests Bernadette Burns of the League of Women Voters, East Palo Alto City Council member Carlos Romero and call-in guest Jim Irizarry, an election specialist. They discussed voter turnout and identified issues of the most concern statewide, transportation and housing. Behind the scenes, Sanders and crew were elated and celebrated the second segment’s smooth transmission to broadcast.
The midterm election coverage was the first time Midpen, KMVT and CreaTV coordinated to push out content together to create a live broadcast. The event was a learning experience all around for the producers, crew members, and the media centers. Show guests had a great time talking about the issues in a live setting according to Sanders who reported a party atmosphere in-studio. After lining up all of the parts, going through the disappointments, and enjoying the rewards, Sanders’ likened doing a live show to putting on a wedding, in the end, it’s done, and everyone goes home happy.