Inside WRAL

Newsroom set features fake balcony, super-flat floor

Posted June 24, 2009

If you’ve ever been on a tour of WRAL, the newsroom is one of the most exciting highlights. It features our anchor desk, a weather wall, huge cameras and bright lights – not to mention all the reporters, producers, web editors and other staff working in the background.

But did you know that our set features a fake balcony, robotic cameras and a special, super-flat floor? I’ll explain more about that in a bit.

WRAL is different than most TV stations I’ve seen, which put the anchor desk in a room that’s totally separate from the newsroom. Here, our newsroom is right behind the anchors’ backs, so viewers can see us working, walking around and talking in the background. In fact, I can sit at my desk, look up and read the TelePrompTer over the anchors’ shoulders.

In January 2001, WRAL debuted the new set, which was moved into a new, 10,000-square-foot newsroom facility. Previously, our staff was spread all over the building, and the move allowed everyone in news, weather, sports,, etc. to work in the same location.

“We simply ran out of room in the old newsroom,” said John Harris, director of programming. “We had staff spread all over the station and it was difficult to get the kind of synergy we desired in that configuration.”

WRAL hired Devlin Design Group, a television design firm, to design the newsroom set. Professionals from the Washington, D.C. area painted all the faux finishes on the anchor desk, set elements and walls. The project took about one year from plan to completion.

“The set was actually built off site and was installed near the end of the construction project,” said John. “The set itself was not that time-consuming to design, but it had to fit inside a complete working news production environment. WRAL has long used a ‘working newsroom’ environment for its newscasts. We began this back in the early 80s and have kept the anchor desk inside the working newsroom ever since. We simply carried that concept into a much larger, modern facility in 2001.”

If you watch a WRAL newscast, you can see what looks like a balcony behind the anchors.

“The double-decking that viewers see in the background of the wide camera shots is purely scenery,” said John. “It appears to some viewers that there is a second level, but that is really just a scenic structure hanging from cables.”

Another interesting aspect of the set is a specially-designed super-flat floor that surrounds the anchor desk.

“This floor was critical to our on-air look because the three main robotically controlled cameras for our newscasts sit on this floor,” said John. “If it is not perfectly flat, the camera shots would look tilted. The ‘super flat’ floor is made from a special product that is poured into place very carefully. It is designed to be self-leveling, which was very important.”

If you’d like to see the newsroom and go on a tour of our station, you can sign up HERE!


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About this Blog:

Inside WRAL takes you behind the scenes of the news business and the stories we cover.