WSMV-Channel 4, which lately has found itself playing catch-up in a news technology arms race with WTVF-Channel 5, will begin broadcasting news in 3-D come April, station officials say.
The move is apparently in response to WTVF’s much-ballyhooed switch to a high-definition picture for its local news. This isn’t the first time WSMV has had to come up with a “me too” technology upgrade. Last summer, WTVF deployed with great fanfare its own helicopter, dubbed Sky 5, sending its reporters aloft to cover fires, Titans games, the traffic jam caused by a Jimmy Buffett concert—pretty much anything that could be photographed from the air.
WSMV countered with “Dive 4,” its “news-sub,” which the station hauled on a trailer to whatever body of water had claimed an unfortunate drowning victim to beam back murky, but undeniably exclusive, underwater coverage.
“Our sub is great, but 3-D news is just another world,” says WSMV news director Matthew Hilk. “We had a story about a sexual predator on one of our test reels, and it felt like that creep was right on the couch with me,” he says enthusiastically.
To get the 3-D effect, viewers will have to wear cardboard-and-plastic 3-D glasses, but the station plans a major promotional push to give them away.
“We’re going to have them at funeral homes, at assisted-living facilities, at Shoney’s—wherever our audience can be found,” Hilk says. “They’re free, which is a lot cheaper than an HD television.”
Meanwhile, WKRN-Channel 2, the perpetual also-ran in the Nashville TV news market, continues to make a virtue of having nothing to lose. The station plans to counter its competitors’ technological pyrotechnics with—retro black-and-white.
“We’re going to broadcast our late news in a moody black-and-white and call it ‘News Noir,’ ” WKRN general manager Mike Sechrist says. “It’s going to be very Good Night, and Good Luck. We’re going to have a lot of rain-slick streets and reporters in trench coats.”
And then, getting in a dig at his better-financed rivals, he adds: “No special glasses or special TV required.”