One of my volunteer leaders, Steve Kaut, works at the local NBC affiliate. Steve is so positive, humorous and encouraging that he makes you feel like a rock-star everytime you hang out with him. Ever since he started volunteering in our student ministry, he began hounding me to bring Sheila and the kids to see the studio. We were always interested but never got serious about putting something on the calendar. Sheila and the kids are on summer break now, so when Steve invited us again, we got serious and booked a visit. (We timed it for the afternoon so we could meet Gary Lezak, chief meteorologist of the station and local celeb.) So Tuesday, we loaded up the mini-van (when Sheila’s mom, brother and brother’s girlfriend found out about it, they wanted to come along as well) to meet Steve at the station.
Everything on the ground floor was fascinating! We got to see editing rooms and the news room. The news room was abuzz with police scanners and flat screen monitors with news feeds from aound the country. Steve introduced us to a few producers, reporters and support personnel, and then he showed us some of the equipment used in the field.
The highlight, of course, was going up stairs to see the studio and meet Gary Lezak and Jeff Penner (one of the other meteorologists on staff). I should take a moment to mention how much of a weather-nerd both Sheila and Sean (her brother) are. About a month ago we had funnel clouds over Olathe. At one point, Sheila not only had the TV turned on to watch the action (channel 41 of course), but she also had both phones going simultaneiously, talking to different people at the same time. Sean, meanwhile, was at work and had to move all of the restaurant customers into the walk-in cooler (because the tornado sirens were going off). Once everyone was safe, he proceeded to go outside and take pictures of the funnel cloud that had formed right above the restaurant. So I think both of them were a little star-struck getting to meet their TV hero. The kids also thought it was cool to be on the set we see on TV everytime we watch the news.
Sean was proud to get to show Gary the pictures he took that day of the funnel cloud. Gary seemed legitimently impressed and shared some tips with Sean about how to adjust the contrast of the picture to make it really stand out in the frame.
I was impressed with how magnanimous Gary was with his time. (It probably helped that we were in a steak of sunny weather.) He showed us a few things with the weather computers and even zoomed in on our home town.
It was quite a treat to get a tour of the station. Big thanks to my friend, Steve, for the memorable family field trip!