30 Seconds To Air: News producers take on stress, deadlines to develop compelling newscast

Local News

Brysen Garcia, producer of WFXR News at 6:30.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – “Thirty seconds.”

A look at the control room during WFXR News at 6:30 featuring Brysen Garcia producing the show behind the director Kara Simpkins.

That’s one of the many lines heard by our anchors at WFXR News as they’re on-set, waiting for the start of a newscast.

An internal communication system is piped from the control room into the earpieces of all of our anchors letting them know that the newscast is ready to begin.

“Ten seconds, stand by…in five, four, three, two…..”

Then the show begins and the art of producing a newscast is in full force. But before all of that happens, we go back hours – many hours, in fact.

Brysen Garcia is the news producer for WFXR News at 6:30. It’s her job to tell the news stories of the day, even though you never see her face.

Members of WFXR News at 6:30 discuss the plan for the day, regarding what stories are going to be covered and how. Once the meeting concludes, Garcia continues planning the rundown for her show.

“I come in around 9:30 a.m.,” says Garcia. “We have an editorial meeting to discuss the general outline of the show. In other words, what reporters are covering what topics. Then, I sit at the computer and I go to work.”

Once she has each reporter’s assignments, she opens the rundown of the show and begins to populate its content.

Garcia also scours the interwebs, looking for other content to include in the show. She looks for items including local fires, arrests, community news and other compelling stories.

Garcia started, like many in the news industry, at the bottom and quickly worked her way up.

She attended the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications and majored in telecommunications.

“I started at a student-run newsroom at a PBS station. When I came to Roanoke, I began as a Production Assistant where I edited videos, ran live audio, graphics, cameras, and even a little bit on directing. I also went on the road and did Friday Night Blitz with the sports department and covered local football games behind the camera, so I really got to dabble in everything,” Garcia says.

Chief Meteorologist John Carroll discusses the weather with WFXR News at 6:30 producer Brysen Garcia.

Through all of that experience, one thing she’s always enjoyed is writing – a key element to being a successful producer. Through that enjoyment, she was able to become the head-honcho of WFXR News at 6:30 by producing the show’s content.

Being a producer means that you have to be an expert multi-tasker. Garcia has that skillset to be able to instantaneously know where her reporters are, how far along they are in developing their story, how much video is needed to tell each story, how much time she – as the producer – needs to fill in her newscast, and where she wants to place each story in the show’s rundown.

As news time gets closer, she begins putting the final touch on the newscast – usually about an hour or two before airtime.

WFXR News at 6:30 producer Brysen Garcia continues planning the show’s content in the rundown.

That’s normally about the time that things tend to really get stressful because you never really know what could happen leading up to the newscast. Reporters’ stories may fall through at the last minute, breaking news could occur at any time, the weather could turn on a dime – any of those could hinder the way she wants her show to flow. It’s at that time that she turns it on overdrive and works on a whim to make any last-minute adjustments.

Then, at around 6 p.m. (30 minutes to air), the final touches are made to the rundown. The final videos are inserted, the graphics team works on the last edits to her show, the last scripts are being finalized and her vision is minutes away from becoming a reality.

Then, it’s into the control room where the show’s director is seated. In the final minutes before air, Garcia is in the ear of all of our reporters in the field who are doing live shots on their respective stories.

Wearing earpieces, she can talk to each one of the reporters to let them know when it’s their time to tell their story of the day.

Finally, it’s time for WFXR News at 6:30 which always starts with a quick look at the weather. Chief Meteorologist John Carroll gives a brief 30-second update before the show’s intro begins.

After that, Len Stevens and Kathlynn Stone begin the program, officially making Garcia’s show a reality.

Instead of watching the show and enjoying the work that she’s put in, she talks to the anchors and reporters by giving them time cues. She’s an expert at keeping the flow of the show going.

Below, is a sample segment of WFXR News at 6:30 with Garcia producing the show.

It’s a lot of responsibility to produce a 30-minute newscast. The producer is responsible for all of the show’s content as well as being sure you remain on time. If a reporter goes long telling their story, another story likely has to be sacrificed for the sake of time. Garcia takes that responsibility seriously.

“I guess I’m that behind-the-scenes engine that’s unseen but gets everything going. I know what everyone is doing at all times, from reporters to anchors. Keeping up with what we have and what we still need to tell a complete story is challenging. I feel like a silent ninja behind the scenes,” laughs Garcia.

So, if you’re looking to produce a newscast, proper schooling, a dedication to news, being an authority figure with excellent time management skills who also has solid news judgment, maybe…just maybe, you could have a future in the industry.

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