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Chris

Public Tours at Local News Stations

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Does anyone know the real reason behind News Stations not giving public tours? I was at KTRK ABC 13 today and they said because of security reasons they are not allowed to give tours of their studios. I just don't understand, Whats the worst that could happen. I could be totally wrong but I'm just wondering.

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My guess, as it would be with most other absurd restrictions like this, would be the threat of "terrorism."

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if you do it randomly, i could understand their response. if you meet/know someone who works there, it's usually much easier.

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Might be their own security rules. More likely, they just don't want to deal with it.

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Might be their own security rules. More likely, they just don't want to deal with it.

TV stations are very justified in not giving public tours anymore. At one time they all gave pre-arranged tours to just about any group that wanted one, but not anymore. This IS based on security concerns but it goes deeper than worries about terrorists. People who don't work around TV stations would have no way of knowing this, but TV stations are threatened ALL THE TIME.

Your typical station in a large urban area like Houston gets bomb threats all the time. Viewers PO'd about something they saw on the air will call in bomb threats. The news department gets letters threatening to blow up the place or kill this or that reporter or personality. All the threats are turned over to the FBI.

Of course 99.999 percent of the threats are from harmless nut-cases, but there's always the possibility that one of them will turn out to be real. There's just no way of knowing which is which.

That's why most, but not all, TV stations don't allow tours anymore.

KUHT Channel 8 is one that does.

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I would guess reporters and producers would be concerned about retaliation for stories/reports they do as well.

I did get to take a tour of the Ch 13 KTRK studios with my scout troop during the summer of '88. All we really saw was the studio itself, but we did meet Roland Galvan and he showed us how the blue screen worked and some of the weather maps as well.

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I would guess reporters and producers would be concerned about retaliation for stories/reports they do as well.

You wouldn't believe how many threats Wayne Dolcefino gets. Investigative teams at other stations get their share as well, but Dolcefino is the local king. His attitude is that it shows he's doing his job.

The joke at KTRK is that if Dolcefino ever turns up murdered, police would have to use the Astrodome to hold all the people with a reason for wanting him dead.

At one time, a TV news department only generated threats of lawsuits. Now it's lawsuits, death threats and bomb threats. They also run any "unusual or odd looking mail" through special scanners before anything gets opened.

The late Ray Miller of KPRC TV told his reporters they weren't doing their job if they weren't threatened with a lawsuit at least once a week.

Edited by FilioScotia

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I just don't understand, Whats the worst that could happen.

A lot of the airstaff have stalkers, too. And not just the females!

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Most TV stations used to give tours to just anyone. Then it got narrowed down to just certain groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc...). Now it's hardly anyone.

There are exceptions made. Usually if an employee is also a member of a group, that group can get a tour -- something like if someone in the sales department is also a Brownie leader. But, again, this is rare.

FiloScotia is right -- people don't realize how dangerous newsrooms are. At least twice in the three years I worked at KHOU someone shot through the Allen Parkway windows into the newsroom. Fortunately, no one was hurt either time, but the bullets did reach reporters' desks. I remember once it was after a big expose on aggressive tow truck drivers.

I've heard from colleagues that Fox has it the worst and that back in the early 2000's, people shooting at the station was pretty much a weekly event. The theory was that it was because an escape could be quickly made via the feeder roads onto 59.

When I worked at WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, a guy came in and shot up the lobby. Fortunately, the management had the foresight to install a bullet-proof desk for the receptionist. This is not uncommon. A few TV stations I've been to have bulletproof glass separating the receptionist from the lobby. The last station I worked at had armed Chicago police officers as receptionists, and others patrolling the station and the grounds at all times in addition to the regular corporate security team. And when the anchors went home at night, they were always followed by a marked police car.

At WDIV in Detroit in April of 2005, a guy shot up the lobby and nearly killed a producer. The guy had a history of attacking WDIV employees.

In addition to crazies shooting up TV stations, what goes on inside TV stations can sometimes be dangerous and unexpected. The week before I started at WKRC-TV they were shooting a segment for the weekend morning show with a tiger from the zoo. As they were walking the tiger from the loading dock into Studio A the zookeeper's teenage daughter and her friend came bounding down the metal staircase above the lion making the usual loud racket that teenagers do. The tiger freaked out and attacked the zookeeper's daughter. It sunk its teeth into her arm and the side of her torso and did a lot of damage. Amazingly, some members of the newsroom staff actually jumped on the tiger to get it off of her. When I got to the station the next week, Harry the weekend producer did my training. He had gashes and bandages all over his face. I assume what was under his clothes was worse. Amazing that he jumped on that animal, because he was an old guy -- maybe in his early 60's.

And then there was the time that Air11 crashed on the roof of KHOU. Shrapnel went everywhere. Fortunately, none made it through the roof into the public areas, but if some did a visitor could have been killed.

Of course, as dangerous as TV stations are, they're way safer than being out in the field. At least one person dies each year simply from hitting a power line with the microwave mast. But there are dozens of other ways that TV live shots are dangerous. If you ever see one, steer clear. It's just trouble waiting to happen.

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All of those are interesting concerns I had never thought about. What about the fear of crazies taking over the place? If a radical group got a hold of a studio and somehow knew how to get themselves on the air, that would be bad as well. Probably not a very likely scenario, much more likely is hacking it from somewhere else. Maybe.

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All of those are interesting concerns I had never thought about. What about the fear of crazies taking over the place? If a radical group got a hold of a studio and somehow knew how to get themselves on the air, that would be bad as well. Probably not a very likely scenario, much more likely is hacking it from somewhere else. Maybe.

Back in the 50's and 60's people worried about terrorists taking over TV stations. But now that there are so many of them, no one really cares. It mattered more back when one TV station could reach 50% of the population in a city. Now it's more like 10%.

As for hacking a station, it's been done. Back in the 80's there was a series of "Max Headroom" incidents around the country. Six places were hit -- WGN-TV/Chicago, WTTW/Chicago, WJLA/Washington, HBO, The Playboy Channel, and a cable system in Arizona.

What was done isn't that hard to do, but you have to have the right equipment and know what you're doing. And just stealing the equipment won't help you because you have to know how to use it. It's not a task for the untrained.

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Wow, I didn't know alot of these incidents could occur at a news station. I want to be a reporter/anchor for KTRK, and I hope none of that happens in the near future.

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Most TV stations used to give tours to just anyone. Then it got narrowed down to just certain groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc...). Now it's hardly anyone.

There are exceptions made. Usually if an employee is also a member of a group, that group can get a tour -- something like if someone in the sales department is also a Brownie leader. But, again, this is rare.

FiloScotia is right -- people don't realize how dangerous newsrooms are. At least twice in the three years I worked at KHOU someone shot through the Allen Parkway windows into the newsroom. Fortunately, no one was hurt either time, but the bullets did reach reporters' desks. I remember once it was after a big expose on aggressive tow truck drivers.

I've heard from colleagues that Fox has it the worst and that back in the early 2000's, people shooting at the station was pretty much a weekly event. The theory was that it was because an escape could be quickly made via the feeder roads onto 59.

When I worked at WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, a guy came in and shot up the lobby. Fortunately, the management had the foresight to install a bullet-proof desk for the receptionist. This is not uncommon. A few TV stations I've been to have bulletproof glass separating the receptionist from the lobby. The last station I worked at had armed Chicago police officers as receptionists, and others patrolling the station and the grounds at all times in addition to the regular corporate security team. And when the anchors went home at night, they were always followed by a marked police car.

At WDIV in Detroit in April of 2005, a guy shot up the lobby and nearly killed a producer. The guy had a history of attacking WDIV employees.

In addition to crazies shooting up TV stations, what goes on inside TV stations can sometimes be dangerous and unexpected. The week before I started at WKRC-TV they were shooting a segment for the weekend morning show with a tiger from the zoo. As they were walking the tiger from the loading dock into Studio A the zookeeper's teenage daughter and her friend came bounding down the metal staircase above the lion making the usual loud racket that teenagers do. The tiger freaked out and attacked the zookeeper's daughter. It sunk its teeth into her arm and the side of her torso and did a lot of damage. Amazingly, some members of the newsroom staff actually jumped on the tiger to get it off of her. When I got to the station the next week, Harry the weekend producer did my training. He had gashes and bandages all over his face. I assume what was under his clothes was worse. Amazing that he jumped on that animal, because he was an old guy -- maybe in his early 60's.

And then there was the time that Air11 crashed on the roof of KHOU. Shrapnel went everywhere. Fortunately, none made it through the roof into the public areas, but if some did a visitor could have been killed.

Of course, as dangerous as TV stations are, they're way safer than being out in the field. At least one person dies each year simply from hitting a power line with the microwave mast. But there are dozens of other ways that TV live shots are dangerous. If you ever see one, steer clear. It's just trouble waiting to happen.

And I always wanted to be a news reporter/anchor. I'll have to think about that now.

Sometimes at the end of Channels 13's 11:00am news, they show an elementary, middle school, or high school class sitting in on the news cast.

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And I always wanted to be a news reporter/anchor. I'll have to think about that now.

Sometimes at the end of Channels 13's 11:00am news, they show an elementary, middle school, or high school class sitting in on the news cast.

Yeah, I've seen that a couple of times a while back.

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You wouldn't believe how many threats Wayne Dolcefino gets. Investigative teams at other stations get their share as well, but Dolcefino is the local king. His attitude is that it shows he's doing his job.

The joke at KTRK is that if Dolcefino ever turns up murdered, police would have to use the Astrodome to hold all the people with a reason for wanting him dead.

At one time, a TV news department only generated threats of lawsuits. Now it's lawsuits, death threats and bomb threats. They also run any "unusual or odd looking mail" through special scanners before anything gets opened.

The late Ray Miller of KPRC TV told his reporters they weren't doing their job if they weren't threatened with a lawsuit at least once a week.

I am not surprised that Wayne Dolcefino gets a lot of death threats for his reports. He made a lot of enemies doing that.

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Back in the 50's and 60's people worried about terrorists taking over TV stations. But now that there are so many of them, no one really cares. It mattered more back when one TV station could reach 50% of the population in a city. Now it's more like 10%.

As for hacking a station, it's been done. Back in the 80's there was a series of "Max Headroom" incidents around the country. Six places were hit -- WGN-TV/Chicago, WTTW/Chicago, WJLA/Washington, HBO, The Playboy Channel, and a cable system in Arizona.

What was done isn't that hard to do, but you have to have the right equipment and know what you're doing. And just stealing the equipment won't help you because you have to know how to use it. It's not a task for the untrained.

Broadcast signal intrusion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcast_signal_intrusion

The Max Headroom incident was in Chicago on WTTW and WGN in 1987. The WJLA was a picture of a man and woman, but the station claimed it was from a promo for Oprah.

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