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Steve Novotney Says, "Lights! Cameras! Action!"

We've all seen television news crews in action here in the Upper Ohio Valley, and there are many who have found themselves in front of the camera, too.

But during the past few weeks I had the opportunity to work directly with several folks with our news partner, WTRF-TV, to produce a "Holiday Memories," a TV show that concerned a few of the Christmas stories I've composed for Weelunk. While I have been employed as a journalist for more than 20 years, the vast majority of my work has been in print and on the radio.

Not television.

And yes, there was a learning curve to conquer, but thankfully those with whom I collaborated were patient people and were more than willing to explain just how it all works so we could bring together a 30-minute program on Oglebay's Festival of Lights, the days when Toyland and the REAL Santa attracted huge crowds at Cooey Bentz in South Wheeling, and the mysteries surrounding the old and new Talking Christmas Tree. Eight different people were interviewed during the show to offer those tales about the past, what we have today, and what they hope to see in years to come.

So, the past, present, and future were covered during the show just as Charles Dickens did much differently with his classic holiday story "A Christmas Carol." Provoking memories while preserving a few pieces of local history was one goal, but I also wanted to present the viewers with what we have today and what's possible in the next few years.

But I surely didn't do this show alone, and while it was an idea I had soon after Weelunk started, it was Diana Winzenreid who proposed it, without my knowledge, to the decision-makers at WTRF-TV. Then, the founders of Weelunk met with those executives for a brainstorming session, and that's when I became involved. There was a vision meeting and being introduced to Jim Taggart, the cinematographer assigned to the project; then the interviews were scheduled and conducted; the overall script was composed; I wrote my voiceovers and the lines for the introduction and closing; then more interviews; and editing and editing and editing; filling the final holes in the overall production; and finally, the last edit.

And we had a show.

Thirty minutes without commercials because that's how it works when you are producing a TV show pilot program.

The great news?

The Weelunk-WTRF partnership program aired this past Sunday at 11 p.m. on WTRF – My Ohio Valley, and will run again on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This Saturday at 1:30 p.m. the show will air on My Ohio Valley, and at 5 p.m. it is set for 5 p.m. on WTRF – ABC. On Sunday the special on Wheeling's Christmas traditions will air at 11 a.m. on My Ohio Valley.

The planning for the second episode is under way with a plethora of topics now on the table. Since Weelunk.com launched, the website has published daily for two years and almost two months, so there's a ton of material from which choose. That's because, while most of us take where we live for granted because life moves really fast, we have a storied history, amenities like nowhere else, and finally a positive outlook with growth taking place with a realistic forecast for future.

So writing, editing, and producing these TV shows with Diana, Jim, and our news partner, WTRF-TV, is going to be as enjoyable as doing my radio program each weekday because the topics are all about the Wheeling area and the people who live and work here. That makes it easy.

Categories: Commentary