Archive for the ‘wfsb’ Category

Why Framing the Camera is Important
May 13, 2010

Doing a live report from our assignment desk today reminded me of this blooper from 1997.

Al Celebrates Golden Anniversary in Broadcasting
January 8, 2010

 This week our pal Al Terzi is marking a milestone:  50 years in broadcasting.

It was January 1960.    Cars had fins, Eisenhower was in the White House, and Denise was potty training when A.J. the deejay burst onto the radio scene in Little Falls, New York.   Bet you can’t guess what the A.J. stands for… is not what you think.

I’ve worked with Al for the past 17 years, and we all rely on his expertise, knowledge and experience every day here at Eyewitness News.  For example, he is the only person here at Channel 3 who covered both Senators Chris and Tom Dodd.  

We wish Al the best and look forward to him celebrating more anniversaries in the years to come.

You can read Al’s biography on our website  and watch his 50th celebration right here

Election Night Behind the Scenes
November 5, 2008

What an historic night to be working.   At approximately 11:04 PM, Denise and I announced that Barack Obama had been elected the nation’s 44th president.   Normally, the networks would make that announcement, but since we were in local programming at the time, we got to make the announcement.

We had a full staff working and here is a glimpse into what went into our election coverage.


clockwise from the left:  Special Projects Producer Tracy Furey, 11PM producer Leah Viator, Executive Producer Kerrie Wudyka,  Anchor and Janitor Al Terzi, some woman who looks vaguely familiar, Associate Producer Brian Spyros, Associate Producer Scott McDonnell, Sports Director Joe Zone and editor Tom Zukowski.


Political analysts Duby McDowell and Brian Flaherty.   Sorry we didn’t get a picture of Brian applying Duby’s eyeliner.


A busy night for our web team of Stephanie Berning and Joshua Rafuse checking their Facebook accounts, I mean, updating vote totals.


Al recalling the first election he covered when Warren Harding beat James Cox.


Technical Producer Adam (Adam 12) Brooks and operations technician Joel Kosciak trying to make Al, Denise and me look younger.


News Director Dana Neves and Assistant Director Patience Hettrick making an important election night decision:  what kind of toppings to order on the pizzas.   Notice Dana is sitting….imgp8234

that’s because as you can see in these standing shots, she is ready to give birth any day!     Here Dana is talking to our producer pod:  from the top center clockwise:  Executive Producer Kerrie Wudyka, producers Rob Polansky and Chris Hamm, associate producers Scott McDonnell and Kimberly Cornell, Assistant News Director Patience Hettrick and Associate Producer Brian Spyros.  Below:  Dana and Kimberly.     You’ll see chief meteorologist Bruce DePrest moping around with nothing really to do on this election night, but he is secretly hoping for a freak nor’easter. 


Here Production Manager Marney Elliott and technicians Dario Muneton (on the right) and Kevin Deninger (left) tell Adam and Joel the only way to make the anchors look younger is to shoot as wide as possible and ask the viewers to squint.  


Technicians Dave Chmielewski (the front) and Kyle Buchanan (the tail) operate the remote camera.  Let’s hope for Kyle’s sake Dave didn’t eat the three bean pizza (Al and Denise’s favorite.)



Assignment Manager Dave Ward announcing that Congressman Chris Shays is conceding.   That smile means there are no technical problems….at this particular moment.

Dennis Marks 15 Years
August 27, 2007

Dennis House reporting on Feb. 27, 1993, at the World Trade Center in New York City

Dennis House reporting on Feb. 27, 1993, at the World Trade Center in New York City

This Friday I mark a professional milestone: 15 years at WFSB!

It was August 31, 1992, when I first “punched the clock” so to speak, at Channel 3.

Much has changed here. While there are several engineers and photographers who have more years under their belt than me, the only on-air people on our staff today who were here for my first day are Denise D’Ascenzo, Dan Kain, and Bruce DePrest. Al Terzi was on Channel 8. An intern from the summer of 1994, Dana Luby, is now my boss. One of our new sales recruits hired around the same time as me, Klarn DePalma, is now the general manager of WFSB.

I had just driven in from Michigan, my Pontiac packed with boxes. I was thrilled to be closer to my family in my native Massachusetts and my favorite summer place, Newport, R.I. I was part of a new group of young reporters at WFSB that included David Ushery, Mika Brzezinski, Eric McClendon, and Virginia Cha. We learned from veterans Jim Vicevich, Jeff Cole and Brian Garnett. Our anchors were Don Lark, Denise, Gayle King, Janet Peckinpaugh, and Gerry Brooks. Hilton Kaderli — complete with his “gullywomper” — was our weatherman.

Those first days, weeks and months were a blast. It seemed everybody owned a Whalers cap, shirt or jacket. I would run into players in restaurants and pubs. We would walk to lunch at the historic Marble Pillar restaurant in the shadow of the Travelers Tower, shop at the Gap on Pratt Street, I even bought a piece of furniture at G. Fox. I went to a Celtics game at the Civic Center.

Since 1992, I’ve been able to have a front row seat to history. I interviewed Al Gore inside Modern Pastry in the South End. Covered Presidents Clinton and Bush at Yale University on different occasions. Chatted with Oprah in her studio about her new movie. I sat in the courtroom in L.A. and actually saw the faces of the jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial that were concealed from television viewers. I’ve interviewed governors, senators, actors and actresses, doctors, lawyers, authors, athletes, victims, and killers.

I have also seen joy and sorrow up close. I will never forget the raw emotion of sheer joy in the fall of 1992 in New Haven. A Newhallville girl named Jasmine had been kidnapped. I was there when her family came out of the house shrieking with euphoria that police had just called to say Jasmine had been found alive in the Bronx. I will also never forget the agony a woman shared with me in Lower Manhattan the evening of 9/11, as she asked me to put her husband’s picture on television. He worked at the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center. I also was on hand for the massive funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Looking back, I have to say, staying at WFSB for 15 years was not my original plan, but I got promoted a few times over the years, fell in love, got married and became a dad. Kara and I fell in love with Connecticut’s capital city, which is now our home. We relish taking our daughter all over the city and all across the state.

It sound kinds of corny, but I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, the viewers. I enjoy meeting you everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I’ve actually met Channel 3 viewers as far away as Rome, Mexico, Chicago, and Florida.

Over the past 15 years, your mail, comments, gifts, and e-mail have been greatly appreciated. Here’s to another 15!

Bye, Bye Broadcast House
July 10, 2007

As many of you know, WFSB is moving into a brand-new building with all state-of-the-art technology — Everything in it is new, except for the people! Most of the staff has already moved, but the news department is still working in Broadcast House until next week as crews put the finishing touches on our new newsroom.

Why are we moving? Broadcast House was built in the early 1960s, and it shows. This iconic building has served us well for the past 46 years, but it was constructed when our news crews shot stories on film, and technology has progressed rapidly since then.

When Broadcast House opened, there were parking lots where skyscrapers now stand. For years, there has been no employee parking. Even all of our news vehicles can’t fit in our rather small garage. Our new building has plenty of parking.

As we packed our boxes, we reminisced about all the events that happened here and the people who came through the doors at 3 Constitution Plaza. Did you know that President Lyndon Johnson visited Broadcast House in 1964? Every governor since Abraham Ribicoff has been interviewed in our building, along with U.S. Senators, presidential candidates and members of Congress. We’ve had UConn players, and some Hartford Whalers. Some well-known singers performed in Studio B for the Brad Davis show.

Some national television figures have worked here, like Bill O’Reilly, Randall Pinkston, Mika Brzezinski, Joe Tessitore, Melissa Francis and Gayle King.

Speaking of Gayle, she even brought her best friend Oprah Winfrey here, and our station made tabloid headlines when Oprah announced from our set that she was secretly engaged to Stedman Graham.

I met my wife, Kara, here in 2000, and we became one of several couples who met at 3 Constitution Plaza.

There were plenty of things that went on here that started the wheels turning for a new television facility. Our three banks of elevators broke down frequently and passengers were often frightened by an occasional jerky plummet. We’ve had bats and other creatures, a flood, broken bathrooms, windows that don’t stay closed or open, and pieces of the concrete exterior falling to the ground. The climate in recent years left much to be desired — often, it was like a sauna or an igloo. As long as I can remember, Denise has used a portable heater on her desk.

Still, we’ll miss the old place.

As for the future of our corner of Constitution Plaza, we hear all sorts of things. My guess is the building will be bought by a developer and demolished, along with the dump next to us, which used to be the Clarion, Sonesta and Hotel America. It’s been home to pigeons and, likely, rats since the mid-1990s. If I had to predict, I’d say a high-rise hotel will rise in the place of Broadcast House to handle the growing hotel room shortage downtown. The proximity to Adriaen’s Landing makes this a prime location for a hotel.

Bye, bye Broadcast House. Thanks for the memories.

EDIT: Our first broadcast from the new station is sometime next week. No exact date yet.

Joy for the Kids and Scot Haney
December 22, 2006

This weekend, you will see the Eyewitness News team as never before — unless of course you’ve been lucky enough to attend a Joy for the Kids Concert.

Since 2004, the annual concert has featured everything from Al Terzi in a chipmunk costume to Scot Haney Irish step dancing in red sequins.

I’m not kidding.

This concert is Scot’s brainchild. He loves Christmas, loves raising money for charity, and loves to sing. So, a public performance was a perfect fit.

“If I wasn’t in television, I’d be a singer,” Scot told me with conviction.

Scot’s penchant for crooning is no secret to Channel 3 viewers, who have heard “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” since he joined the Early Warning Weather team in 1998.

He loves sharing the story of how he met John Denver on a street in Manhattan years ago, and often pays tribute to the late country star by singing one of his Christmas Songs.

The 2006 Joy for the Kids concert was the third Scot has produced. This really is a labor of love for him. He starts planning it early in the year, then by September, his vision is on paper and rehearsals are scheduled with the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, a talented group of musicians.

Scot writes much of the lyrics, secures props, makes phones calls, and basically runs the show from start to finish — a daunting task. We practice at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, working through off-key notes, sore throats, cancellations, and sheet music revisions. Most importantly, all of this is done while we balance covering and broadcasting the news.

We’ve really come a long a way since the inaugural show in 2004. This year, tickets sold out in 12 hours! Next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see people up and down Church Street camping out in front of the Hartford Stage! How much heat do those giant iconic red letters throw?

Planning is already under way for the 2007 show. Scot has some zany ideas for next year, including a skit with grass skirts and a rendition of “Mele Kalikimaka,” which is Hawaiian for “Merry Christmas To You.” Could it be Al in the grass skirt? We’ll have to wait and find out!

In addition to Al and Scot, this year’s show featured performances by Denise D’Ascenzo, Eric Parker, meteorologists Bruce DePrest, Mark Dixon, and Darren Sweeney, Mike Hydeck, Kevin Hogan, Irene O’Connor, my wife, Kara Sundlun, and me — that’s just the news staff. You’ll also see Governor Rell, Brad Davis and a host of dignitaries and celebrities.

We all had a blast doing this show. It is a night of tremendous fun, and best of all, we raised roughly $40,000 for a charity near and dear to our hearts: The Channel 3 Kids Camp.

Channel 3 will air highlights just in time for the holidays.

Saturday, Dec. 23 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 24 at 12:35 a.m.

Monday, Dec. 25 at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The ticket revenues support the Channel 3 Kids Camp, so don’t forget to do your part for the kids!

Enjoy the show, and you can leave a comment about it by clicking here!

Couric & Connecticut
September 21, 2006

Greetings folks,

Welcome to the first entry in my first blog!   I thought we’d talk about Katie Couric, who made history by becoming the first woman to be named solo anchor of a network evening newscast.

I had the chance to meet with Katie last month when I went to New York with Denise D’Ascenzo, news director Gary Brown and assistant news director Dana Neves.

As you might imagine, walking through the halls of CBS was pretty inspiring.    The corridors are adorned with pictures of CBS legends Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and many others.    It reminded me a little bit of Broadcast House, in that it is an old building but full of history in every nook and cranny.   

Gary and Dana had meetings with CBS managers which left Denise and me sitting in a room with a pile of sandwiches and a giant bowl of pasta salad that looked like it had been out for hours. That was our cue. Armed with our security badges, we decided to go for a self guided tour of west 57th.

We sheepishly veered down hallways until we stumbled upon props for the soap opera “the Guiding Light.” We saw boxes marked “Japanese restaurant,” “church rug,” chandeliers and some fake plants. We walked into the newsroom of WCBS looking for former Channel 3 anchor Brendan Keefe, who wasn’t in. Then it was on to the offices of the Early Show, looking for anchor Tracy Smith, whom we met when she and her husband came to Hartford earlier in the summer. She, too was “out of the building.”

Later we befriended a CBS page who enhanced our tour by taking us by the new set carpenters were building for the CBS Evening News. We passed by Andy Rooney’s office, but no sign of the 60 Minutes curmudgeon.

Finally, it was our turn to talk to Katie. She talked about being a role model for young girls, as well as boys, and about the unpredictable future of the internet. We talked about anchor chemistry, and she compared the chemistry and friendship Denise and I enjoy to the one she had with her former Today show host Matt Lauer.

But the highlight of the interview, came before the cameras started rolling. Denise had a small thread that had pulled from her jacket, that Katie instantly noticed as we got the standby. Katie tried unsuccessfully to pull that aqua thread out, and mat it down. “Does anyone have any scissors,” Katie asked from her chair. No response. “Surely, someone must have a pair of scissors so we can fix this,” she queried. A staffer promptly approached the set with a Swiss Army contraption that included scissors. Katie clipped that thread and the interview was on. I told her “she had gone from managing editor to managing seamstress.”

I can’t say enough how much Denise and I enjoyed Katie’s company. She was warm, affable, and we both felt a connection to us. Katie Couric is the real deal. What you see on television is what you get in person. When we posed for pictures she cracked jokes and asked questions about us, and our station. We were the last of more than a dozen interviews she had done that day, but she never let her exhaustion show.

Viewers in Connecticut have responded to the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” in huge numbers. Every day she has been on, Katie has beaten her evening news competitors on NBC and ABC.

I’d love to read what you think.


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