Best Local TV News Station, Best Local TV News Anchor (Jason Fechner), Best Local TV Reporter (Chris Minor), Best Local TV Sportscaster (Matt Randazzo), Best Local TV Morning Show (Good Morning Quad Cities), Best Local Weather Forecaster (Terry Swails), Best Local Twitter Feed, Best Local Business Use of Mobile Technology
I couldn't have asked for a better tour guide than Jason Fechner
, co-anchor with Rae Chelle Davis of the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. news, to show me around the new WQAD Channel 8 high-definition set last week.
That personal accolade for Fechner
is added to quite a stack of awards for Channel 8 in this year's voting.
"If the Cubs work as hard at their job as Jason does here, someday they'll win a Best in Baseball award."
All of the awards come in the middle of an important transition for WQAD's news-gathering organization.
Some impressive technology is on display at the station's studios in Moline, as it continues to implement all the features of its high-tech set.
noted that while WQAD
is already broadcasting from the new set in HD, it is still only about halfway to employing all of its features and functionality.
And while adding more digital cameras and a movable set will give it the ability to focus on different areas - the anchor desk can be rotated so that the weather center is in the background for breaking weather news, for example - Fechner
says that the advanced tools just make it easier to do a better job on the news.
"The technological aspects always follow the editorial," he
"If the flooding this spring hits Dubuque first or St Louis the hardest, we can send the satellite truck to those places and broadcast in HD, a story that is important to every Quad Citian," Fechner
Individual reporters will also be improving their capability to report from where news is happening.
"While the portable equipment is not HD, once we're all digital, a reporter can shoot live segments, or record, edit, and upload remote segments for broadcast much more easily, and with more portable equipment," he
To enhance the conversational nature of storytelling, the WQAD newsroom - the area where reporters work on stories before they go to air - is also being wired and renovated for use as a secondary set.
"The point is to expand our toolbox with the aim of getting the best content on-air in the most streamlined way we can," Fechner
said that kind of interaction is gratifying and useful to a news organization.
"During a recent broadcast about cancer awareness, we had doctors from Genesis upstairs manning the chat, answering questions," he
"In another instance, we were doing a story on real estate, and had a Realtor logged in from home to respond to viewers' questions.
It's part of buying in to the fact that an active model when it comes to news is not only a trend, but a smarter, better way to connect with our audience."
And when I asked how it felt to see Channel 8 pile up this many awards after long being considered the number-two station in this market, and after taking a bit of a drubbing right here in the Reader last October (RCReader.com/y/tvnews), Fechner
diplomatically said: "It's nice that there's a positive to offset the negative.
also said he
was proud that WQAD
won so many of the Best of the Quad Cities categories without pressuring its audience: "It's additional proof that we're headed in the right direction."
said to look for more from New Channel 8, even after the digital transition is complete and the new sets are in place: "There are ways to tell stories and ways to interact with an audience that we're just touching on so far.
All this technology is amazing, and if it helps us get the best stories and the most important information to our audience, then the entire Quad Cities benefits.
- Shawn Eldridge
1) Jason Fechner (WQAD)
Local TV news anchor