How technology has changed KTTC and our lives

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 11:51 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Whether you’re a fan of it or not, technology has become a mainstay in our everyday lives.

In a technological field such as television news, it impacts how everything operates on a day-to-day basis.

As KTTC turns 70, technological advancements have moved the news industry forward, especially with how fast technology has grown in the last 20 years.

When KTTC, then KROC went on air in 1953, the news was in black and white. While color television was around then, it wasn’t until 1966 for KTTC to first broadcast in color.

Stories and footage were shot in film back in those days. Photographers needed at least 35 minutes to develop the film in a dark room before having to manually edit the stories together. For years, reporters would have to be done shooting stories, including breaking news, by 4:30 in order for the film to make and be ready for air.

Then came along recording to tape. While this was faster, it still could be a tedious process to edit and have ready for a show in what was known as the analog days.

Then in the 2000s came the switch from analog to digital, making the process faster for newscasts.

It wasn’t until the early 2010s that KTTC switched to the digital format used to this day of recording to an SD card, which are small chips that hold increasingly more data as time goes on and technology advances. Reporters now can finish a story and send it to a server at 5:59 p.m. and have it ready to air at 6 p.m. for the beginning of the news.

While reporters and photographers have seen many changes, anchors have as well.

Anchors used to read off paper scripts, having to look down and up while broadcasting the news. Large TV’s were used as monitors that sat on a motorized lift to bring them up and down behind the anchor.

Then came along the teleprompter, a system that mirrors scripts in front of the camera and allows the anchors to read while looking at the camera and higher tech high-definition televisions and monitors for behind the anchors.

While the switch from black and white to color television was huge, for those behind the scenes of newscasts, analog to digital may have been bigger and helped usher in HD TV.

KTTC’s first HD broadcast was March 20, 2011 which was a Sunday night.

Weather has also seen a drastic change in forecasting and presentation on air. When KTTC first went on air, weather was drawn on chalk boards for viewers to see before a magnet system was brought in to give clearer maps and paint colorful pictures of what’s going on across the country. Now, meteorologists can create graphics that show radar, animate and show clear pictures of what’s going on in certain areas while standing in front of a green screen.

What about behind the scenes? For decades, a newscast needed people manually running cameras in the studio. Now they’re robotic and automated, being able to move to preset positions with the click of a mouse.

As far as going to different shots and bringing up different microphones for talent, a director and an audio operator were needed at minimum to put a show on. Now, one person is able to “code” a show and bring up a camera shot, b-roll, graphics and microphones with the click of a button.

“A human only had two hands and 10 fingers and they couldn’t reach everything at once,” said Gray Television Director of Broadcast Operations Brendan Ford. “Now with coding, we can do more advanced things.”

Needless to say, technology has impacted all of our lives during the 70 years KTTC has been on air. You used to have to tune in at certain times to catch the big stories of the day. Then technology advanced, and if you missed the shows you could record them to VHS, then DVD, then to DVR to go back and watch what you missed. Now, all you need is your phone, a smart tv or streaming device. The KTTC app is available on all those platforms and allows you to go back and watch the news, weather and sports on your time.

With the invention of the internet, computers, tablets and smart phones, KTTC’s website and social media have never been more prevalent in getting news to viewers and the community. With the touch of a screen, individual stories with video are right at your fingertips on your time.

While technology only seems to be growing faster by the day, 70 years is a long time to evolve and what’s next?

KTTC could be broadcasting in 4K soon with even more digital options of how to get the news for viewers.