Take a peek inside the studios of Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television. The studio is in many ways the heart of a radio or television station. It is the place where broadcasters communicate most directly with their audience.
This is especially true for Wisconsin Public Radio where throughout the day the studios of both the Ideas Network and the NPR News and Classical Network are home to a staff of announcers talking to guests and taking your calls or introducing the best in classical music. The Classical Network studio is featured in our panoramic tour where we caught Norman Gilliland behind the microphone.
A small Wisconsin map on the wall showing the range of the Network's many transmitters may be the only clue that this little room has such a broad reach. "From this small quiet space we send out a vast stream of culturally-rich sound not just to Wisconsin, but all over the world," says Norman, referring to the fact that WPR's broadcast is now available over the Internet through its Web site.
While not nearly as much of Wisconsin Public Television's programming originates from the studio, it is still is a vital resource for WPT's productions.
Studio A, measuring roughly one hundred by sixty feet, is one of the largest television studios in the Midwest, surpassed only by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions studio in Chicago. The great size allows up to three sets to be in the studio at once, one of which is nearly always the set for WPT's weekly public affairs program WeekEnd featured as a panoramic tour. WeekEnd producer Andy Moore says the size of the studio and openness of the set create a relaxed atmosphere where people are comfortable talking about current events emulating "what you might find in your home town, like a super club."
"The studio doors are open. It becomes very much a public space on public TV," says Andy, also noting that the "green room" the traditional TV term for a guest waiting area is actually a part of the set rather than a room down the hall, giving even more of a community feel. Add the fact that WeekEnd often welcomes live bands to its set and you have an atmosphere unlike any other in television news.
Live music, dances and dramatic performances, and everything from cows to cars have found their way into WPT's Studio A according to Production Supervisor Steve Lukes, who recently helped rig a special water device that had performers making like Gene Kelley in "Singing in the Rain" for an experimental dance video. Steve calls Studio A " a black box we create visions out of. Through a combination of scenic and lights we create environments that support a program's content."