When anchorman Bob Evans joined KSTU-Channel 13 back in 1995, he was promised the station would have a new studio "next year."
It’s finally happening next week. On Monday, Fox 13 will unveil its high-definition studio and a new 4:30 a.m. newscast, and begin broadcasting all newscasts in high definition.
"We finally got it," Evans said with a laugh. "We were ready to spread our wings. And it was our turn."
Channel 13 is the last local TV station to go HD, and this is the station’s first new studio since it debuted its first newscast on Dec. 31, 1991.
"We’ve had a few tweaks over the years, but this is the first major renovation in the station’s history," said Tim Ermish, KSTU’s president and general manager.
Not only that, but the newscasts have been working out of a tiny temporary space, "the world’s smallest news studio," since December.
The new studio includes an interview area for the morning news, a spiral staircase leading to an upper level, multiple anchor desks, and the latest in HD technology. It’s sort of "Star Trek" with a Utah spin on it — local stone on the walls, local hues around the set.
"Whenever we had the opportunity to buy the latest and greatest, we did," Ermish said. "We’re not first to the game, but there are certain advantages to coming a little bit later. … We got the latest technology. The prices did come down. And we have a huge space here."
"The project has been 18 months in the making. When Local TV LLC acquired the station in 2008, they were kind of surprised at what they bought," Ermish said. "They couldn’t believe the cramped space we were working out of."
The new owners, a division of private equity firm Oak Hill Capitol Partners, invested in the "multimillion dollar" project. "Very quickly they said, ‘Come up with a plan, make it efficient, but do it,’ " Ermish said.
KSTU bought a vacant building next door to its studio in the Salt Lake International Center, doubling its floor space to 32,000 square feet. The building is home to renovated offices and meeting rooms for the sales and support staff; the old building has been transformed into the new studio and working space for reporters.
The newsroom — which will continue to be behind the anchor desk — is scheduled for completion this summer; there’s a temporary wall hiding the area that will add even more depth to the studio when it’s finished. The new studio runs about 6,500 square feet, double the size of the old studio.
"This is a whole new world for us," Evans said.
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