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Whatever the Weather Brings…

Posted By · January 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

On this strange, stormy day, many of us in the newsroom pondered the question many probably considered 19 days before Super Bowl XLVI:  what will the weather bring, and are we prepared?

The Indy Super Bowl committee assures us they are ready for every scenario.  (Let’s hope they won’t be put to the test).

But what about the station bringing you the big game? 

We have some big plans when it comes to our coverage, including nightly specials the week leading up to the Super Bowl; a Super Saturday show; and a special Sunrise show Super Bowl Sunday.  Much of our live coverage out in the elements where the action is (think zipline!), including at the Super Bowl Village, outside Lucas Oil Stadium, and inside the NFL Experience. 

As our anchors and reporters prepare by learning as much as we can about each event surrounding the Super Bowl and how to get you there, our amazing production and engineering teams work to make sure we’re comfortable doing it.

Production manager Randy White–a most organized and thoughtful person–offered this plan:

We have infra red heaters at our Georgia Street location.    We’ll have  foot heaters as well  (they’re actually heating pads for pets–what I consider an ingenious idea!)  We also have the production truck there as a warming station for our crew.

We'll use heating pads like this for anchors to stand on to keep feet warm!

 At our other outdoor location, the Domestic Compound at the Stadium, we will be quite exposed to weather as the platform is not heated or covered. We will have access to the NBC NewsChannel trailer located nearby to take breaks from the cold if necessary. Otherwise, we are out in it!

 Our NFL Experience stage inside the convention center is our indoor fallback location. If we had weather like (Tuesday) morning with lightning and warnings and such, we would take it all inside.

By the way, I should mention, while you see the anchors and reporters (what we very loosely call ‘talent’)  it takes a village to raise a broadcast.  There will be about 15 members of the crew (production and engineering) behind the cameras each day making sure it all works like clockwork rain or shine…or snow.

So here’s to whatever the weather brings…and hopefully coverage you won’t soon forget.

Kris Kirschner

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Super Bowl Accessible…

Posted By · January 16, 2012 at 9:25 am

With the Super Bowl now less than three weeks  away (since we’re the Super Bowl station it’s our obligation to remind you as often as humanly possible) those of us covering the event are anxiously, and yes, excitedly wondering what our assignments will be.

Yes we work in the media.  And yes that  affords us access to newsmaking events, people, and places that often make friends and family envious.

However, major events–covered by worldwide media– are sometimes a different animal.

When I covered the Olympics for Channel 13 (both in Salt Lake city and Torino, Italy) the question most often asked of me:  “Did you get to see the events?”  Or rather , “It must have been great to see the events in person!”. 

I saw no events in Salt Lake city–except on the television in my modest hotel room.  I did catch an ice skating event in Torino–but only because  I bought tickets.  There are so many media outlets covering the events; and not everyone can get equal access.  Besides, we’re too busy working to really “enjoy” what we’re covering ( the way a spectator would enjoy it).

I assumed the Super Bowl would be a similar case.  Afterall, there are more than 5000 credentials approved by the NFL–90 of those go to WTHR staff.

Based on newsroom intel, however, I”m finding our access will indeed be pretty impressive.

Reporter Rich Van Wyk, (who covered Super Bowl XLV in Dallas as well as the Colts appearance in Miami) ,  offered that access to the stadium–will be limited even to media covering the event.  The NFL controls the access during this time.  Reporters will receive 2 credentials–1 for the week leading up to the game; 1 for game day itself (although not necessarily for the stadium).   (see below)

Rich Van Wyk's credential for Super Bowl XLV


Most credentials will offer access to the NFL Experience, training facilities, players, and media center.

As for the Super Bowl parties–those –he says–are “hit or miss”.  Rich says if it’s an NFL-sanctioned party then the credentials will get you in.  Private parties–may or may not allow access; and it would likely be limited at best.

That being said, as the NBC “Super Bowl station”–we will have access to coverage no other station will.

The “Jimmy Fallon Show”, which is broadcasting four shows from the Hilbert Circle Theater, is granting WTHR “behind the scenes” access .  We’ll see rehearsals for the show, and speak with Jimmy and his guests. 

Bob Kostas —the Today Show–and Brian Williams–are all bringing their shows to Indy.  As part of the NBC family, we expect to get some time with them.

I know plenty more opportunities will surface.

We’ll find out soon enough what our individual assignments will be.   

As a station, I”m happy to know,  even for the biggest sporting event in this city’s history, we’ll have the kind of access that will not only ensure we enjoy every moment–but more importantly, you do too.


Kris Kirschner

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Tapping into Super Bowl XLVI

Posted By · January 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

As an official sponsor of Super Bowl XLVI,  Bud Light* is tapping into the Indianapolis market in bigger numbers than ever before.

And that’s good news for the Indianapolis distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, family-owned Zink Distributing –whose workers have been busy stocking bars and shelves preparing for an event Jim Zink describes as “Final Four times 5″.

Banners are already adorning local restaurants and bars for Bud Light* and two dozen more establishments will be decked out this week.

But perhaps the most unique marketing for the Super Bowl beer will be happening at the Hampton Inn downtown.  In the next couple of weeks it will transform into the “Bud Light hotel”.  Every sign will acknowledge  the name change–even the soaps and shampoos will carry the Bud Light* logo.

It will be a place not only for Super Bowl guests…but parties ahead of the big game.

Zink Distributing believes the  exposure and volume of business they’ll get from the Super Bowl will last far beyond February 5th.

Also…stores are already carrying  a limited edition aluminum Bud Light* bottle—-in cobalt blue—-with the Super Bowl logo, host city and date printed proudly on its label.  (I suggest you buy two—-and save one.)

Limited Edition Bud Light aluminum bottle

Then January 23rd, Indianapolis will be among the first to sample a brand new brand of Bud Light*.  Bud Light* Platinum–a sweet malt liquor that Zink says is marketed to the “high end drinker”.

The official kick off  “Platinum” is Super Bowl Sunday.


Kris Kirschner

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25 Days and Counting…

Posted By · January 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

For the past year, WTHR – the Super Bowl station - has been actively counting down the days to Super Bowl XLVI.  But it’s really been in the last week we’ve ramped up our final preps (and the city too) for this Indy first.

Now 25 days out, there is a “buzz” in  the newsroom ( and for that matter around town)  the result of  meetings, set construction, schedule planning,  more construction—-all in an effort to put on our Super Bowl Sunday best.

Setting the Stage

Just this past week, I attended a staff meeting where I learned exactly how our coverage will play out.  Some if it, I thought you might find interesting as well.  For example,  these noteworthy tidbits:

5000 NFL credentials  will be handed out (90 of those to WTHR staff)

130 Public and Private events are scheduled

59 NBC cameras in use

800  Traffic Control Operators to keep you on the right path

WTHR monitors that will be placed at the NFL Experience

The Super Bowl is far more than the game–or even the commercials.  It’s a week’s (or more) worth of entertainment that attracts worldwide media, A-list celebrities, and fans across the globe.

Indianapolis–and Channel 13–are at the center of it all.

So stay tuned for our special coverage.  The game may be 25 days away, but the efforts to bring it here–years in the making. 

Check here for more on our Super Bowl Coverage  - Including parking info, transportation, events listings, schedules and news stories.

Kris Kirschner

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Father’s Day of Fools

Posted By · June 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

Father’s Day is quickly approaching… are you scrambling to buy the perfect card for dad?

I’ve been looking for a good one, but can’t find exactly what I’d like.  Am I being too picky?  Nope, I don’t think so.   I don’t think our standards for Father’s Day cards are high enough.

Where am I going with this? 

Well, according to the cards I’ve seen, dad’s only drink beer, control the remote while sitting in their favorite chair, BBQ, cut the grass, or golf.  I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot more to my dad than those stereotypes.

Father’s are not the doofus’ American culture has made them out to be.  They are not the incapable characters many TV shows have created.  They are not another child that a woman needs to parent.  Fathers are equal parents who are just as loving and just as responsible for kids as mothers.

Can you imagine what would happen if Mother’s Day cards featured vacuums, women cooking, washing the dishes, folding laundry, and cleaning the house?   That wouldn’t fly… would it?  So, why is the dad stereotype allowed to continue?  Gender roles fluctuate with couples, after all, marriage and love is about a partnership.

My dad is awesome.  Sure, he cuts the grass, has an occasional beer, and we fight over the remote, but is that all he is? 

No, he’s a role model who’s always there for me.  When I think of my Dad, I remember childhood ski trips, 100 mile bike rides together, and his love, support, and encouragement. 

So, Dad, Happy Father’s Day… I’m glad a greeting card doesn’t begin to describe your parenting!

Categories : Sunrise Blog
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Soggy Start to the Week

Posted By · April 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

So long 80s!

Highs today will fall from the 60s in the morning, to the 50s by the evening with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.  It’s going to be a soggy day with up to .50″ of additional rainfall.  That number is especially true in our Southeastern counties.

Overnight we dry out with temps in the low 40s and wind gusts up to 20mph.

Tuesday, sunshine makes a return as we hit the low 60s.  By Wednesday, we’ll be shooting for a high in the upper 60s.

Showers and thunderstorms return Thursday and Friday.

And, we’re tracking a cool down for Saturday with temps only in the 50s and a chance of rain.

Indianapolis Seven Day Weather Forecast

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Covering the Final Four…is a blast in Houston

Posted By · April 3, 2011 at 8:48 am

I’ve covered two Winter Olympic games, the Rose Bowl, the NBA Playoffs, but I’ve never had as much fun covering a sporting event than I have here in Houston for the Final Four.

And some of the best moments happened behind the camera.

On game night–when the Butler Bulldogs took on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams–my role was two-fold.  Get photos and provide updates for social media and www.wthr.com during the game…and then act a “runner” for our sports team after the game.

My media credentials offered me access to the game floor–a wonderful view of the action on the court–plus a chance to get some pics of the “moments” during the game.  (see below).  I’ve certainly watched these games on t-v as Butler has progressed in the tourney this year and last–but being there–among the record 75-thousand fans–the electricity in the air–unsurpassed.

I ran into Charles Barkley–who stopped for a photo op and a little conversation.  (WTHR  photographer Matt Whisner met former President George H.W. Bush–now a Butler fan!)

During the second half,  I kept tabs on the action from the Media Center in Reliant Stadium–a room full of sports and news teams from all over the country covering the game.  Even after more than 20 years in this business, being included among them seems unreal.

While the competition is certainly intense on the court–it’s also “game-on” for reporters.  We want to have the best coverage–and if possible to have it first.  Our game plan was this–Eric Yutzy interviews the players and coach inside the locker room.  Dave Calabro broadcasts live for our special coverage after the game from the live location outside Reliant Stadium.   Matt  and I would relay the video from one to the other. (we figured it was about a quarter mile from the locker room to the live location)

Because of NCAA rules for coverage –unless you’re the network airing the game–television affiliates are not allowed to show highlights until both games were finished.  

(And they’re serious about this rule.   A  CBS affiliate thought they’d be ok to get reaction from the Butler team on the court right afte the win.  But according to the photographer shooting the video the NCAA  ordered them to erase what they shot)

So the buzzer sounds…and we’re off.   My role afforded me access to the locker room after the game.  A new experience for me.  Right after the team enters–a hoard of reporters, and cameras move in like cattle.  Everyone vying for the great interview.  I stay close to Eric and sports photographer Matt Wilkening.  A team who work so well together it’s as if they choreograph their every move.  I know I work with some talented people..but to see them in action is a thing of beauty. 

Eric first approaches one player…gets a few questions in..then it’s off to the next.  Once that interview wraps up Matt Whisner takes the SD card and literally runs it from the locker room to the satellite truck so that Dave can “pitch” to it on air.

Meantime, Eric continues with more interviews..then I get the SD card and I start running.  (It’s at this point I realize two things–1) I should have packed sneakers 2) I am really out of shape!)

I meet Matt half way and pass off the card like a baton in a 100 meter relay.

We do this three or four more times–it comes off flawlessly on the air (Dave’s a pro)–and our viewers are able to hear from the players right after the game.  None the wiser.

In the middle of it all, I just thought to myself–”this is so fun”.  It’s quite an adrenalin rush.  I love being “on-air”–but being part of this team–doing my part to cover this amazing Butler story was a thrill as well.

And the best part is, I get to do it all over again Monday night.

Go ‘Dawgs!

Kris Kirschner

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Butler’s Mascot is Out of this World

Posted By · April 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

posing with WTHR's Kris Kirschner at Johnson Space Center

Standing in front of the Saturn V rocket at the NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, it’s impossible not to be awed by the size .  One hundred yards in length–the size of a football field.  Close enough to reach out and touch it–the history of the Space Program is brought to life–and names like Lovell, Aldren, Grissom, and Armstrong come to mind.  All those history makers and their feats displayed on the walls of the hangar that houses the rocket.

But on this particular Friday, the visitors marveled less at the wonders of space than the  unexpected appearance of a sweater-clad bulldog named Blue.With an entourage that included his handler, Michael Kaltenmark, Michael’s wife and infant son, Butler alum , a t-v crew (myself and a photographer) and our tour guide–a NASA flight surgeon–Butler Blue arrived at the Rocket Center at Johnson Space Center like a rock star–or better yet, an astronaut.  And getting the star treatment every four-legged step of the way.

This was his first stop in Houston–but the latest in an exhausting schedule as what is arguably the most recognizeable mascot in the NCAA Men’s Tourney.

The Butler Men’s basketball story–becoming the first Indiana team to earn back to back appearances in the Final Four–is one of movie lore.  Last year’s last second heartbreaking loss to Duke emblazoned the Butler brand in the minds of basketball fans.  This year’s surprising appearance as one of the four teams remaining sealed their place as a force to be reckoned with.  And the popularity of Butler–as the team people can’t help but root for–is largely due to the dog who can move a basketball and hearts with the swipe of a paw.

So perhaps it isn’t surprising that heads turned from the massive rocket–to the stout, but loveable pooch.  A man with a  UCONN shirt asked if he could get a photo with Blue.  “I love Bulldogs”, he said.  Then, “not Butler Bulldogs” but the breed.  However, he also admittedd he wanted to buy a Butler banner–because he wanted a picture of a Bulldog.

A Texan said he enjoyed following Blue 2 on twitter (@ButlerBlue2) .

And on the way out–a gentleman in a University of West Virginia shirt stopped to give Blue a pat on the head –all the while raving about the Butler program, the players, its coach.   Then he paused for a photo op with the famous bulldog.  Turns out he was the president of the university.

The flight surgeon, Dr Richard Scheuring, says he’s worked with the top astronauts.  And he’s “seen a lot of things”.  But he’s never seen anything like the popularity of this stocky school mascot..

Lovell, Armstrong, Aldren, …and Blue 2?

Let’s face it.  As cute as he is, he’s no rocket scientist. 

But Blue 2′s charm and popularity has launched him among the stars of college basketball …and beyond.

Kris Kirschner

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