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Behind the scenes: How 3News is broadcasting from home

An inside look at how the WKYC Studios team has been working remotely during the pandemic

CLEVELAND — The heart of broadcast news has always been in the studio. But lately, viewers are getting a very different view of what local news can look like - live, from inside the homes of our 3News team.

As concerns about the coronavirus pandemic began to amp up in March, many industries reacted quickly - sending their employees home with computers to work remotely. But with so many technical and practical parts of local news tied to our station in downtown Cleveland, many of us here at 3News, never imagined we too, could work from home.

Production Manager Al Wohl was part of the internal team that handled the technical challenges of going remote. 

"All of a sudden it was okay, we're going to start getting reporters and anchors and photographers out of the building, and of course all the office staff, sales people and so forth. That all happened within a matter of, probably a week to ten days and it was like a switch went on, and bam," he said.

It's a massive change, at a pace unlike anything he's seen over his decades-long career at WKYC Studios.

"Even probably five, certainly seven years ago, it would have been impossible to do what we're doing," Wohl said.

Multimedia Journalist Brandon Simmons has been reporting live from his home basement - an area he never expected viewers to see. That's something Anchors Sara Shookman and Jay Crawford can relate to, as they've both set up shop in their own lower levels.

"When they first said we're gonna do this I thought oh boy…." Crawford laughed.

"I was sort of like how would that work? I certainly never thought of this as a job that you could do remotely...and this is such an important time for journalism i really didn't want to feel like i wasn't contributing to all of the important work the station had to do," Shookman explained.

But they've both quickly adjusted to their new setups - relying on personal devices like cell phones and laptops to help them go live.

"My iPhone 11 is my camera, that's what you're seeing me on every night, said Shookman.

Crawford showed off his own mini-studio, explaining, "we have a camera back at the station that shoots the teleprompter and then it actually pops up here on the screen and when I'm using it it's easy for me to look into that when I'mactually reading off of a script." 

He even had to get a little handy to get everything just right.

"I actually had to put some of my woodworking skills into play here to get it up so it's right underneath the camera lens," he said as he showed off his makeshift laptop stand.

"There was certainly a learning curve for many at home to kind of get there set-up, set-up right," Wohl confirmed.

Both Shookman and Crawford agreed - there have been some challenges along the way. 

"I think the most challenging part of working from home is doing all of this this isn't usually part of my job description. It's much easier to be at WKYC Studios and to have my scripts ready to go and to walk right out on the set," Shookman explained.

"The crazy thing for me is there's a lot of wires which I'm kind of nuts about hiding, wires I don't really like the way they look but there's not much I can do about that, said Crawford.

But just two months into this new normal, it's clear that with challenge, has come innovation.

"They've done a super job. They've made all of this much easier than it's supposed to be," Crawford said.

Shookman for her part, is now thinking about what this means for the future.

"I certainly love being at work and so I hope that there's always that component but i can see and this job and a lot of others how things might go entirely remote in new ways we never thought possible."