Pa. station getting new duras, video walls for its ‘Newswatch 16’ franchise

WNEP, the Tegna-owned ABC affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is preparing to debut an updated set.

The station moved to a temporary set in Studio 1 on Dec. 17, 2022. This setup uses leftovers from the station’s 2003 set that have since been repurposed for its Friday night sports specials and other productions.

When the station updated its set back in 2011, which included moving to Studio 2, it added a new 3×3 video wall array with thick bezels behind the anchor desk as well as new duratrans walls. The duras were updated in 2015 when the station unveiled new graphics.

The upcoming revamped set, which was previewed on-air Dec. 19, 2022 by anchor Chelsea Strub, will feature an upgraded video wall behind the anchor desk with lower profile bezels, though grid lines will still be visible.

The station is also adding a freestanding 4×3 video wall far camera left that appears to be positioned for standup shots of both anchors and reporters.

Other changes include updated duratrans graphics on a new material that retain the general blue color scheme but add in a mountainscape, a nod to the many valleys and peaks in the region and an element that had been part of the 2003 set’s main dura as well as other looks the station used dating back even farther.

The duras still use oversized, 3D versions of the station’s “16” logo along with faint repeating text of “Newswatch 16” along the bottom and the slogan “The News Station” tucked up against curved portions of the various sixes.

The station is keeping its existing anchor desk base but removed the shiny black top in favor of a thick, sparkly slab of glass, similar to the look used at other Tegna stations.

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This means that the core of the anchor desk has now been used going back to 2003. The 2011 renovation included adding some wings and additional surface elements to the desk as well as a modified front and the addition of a flat panel there.

Plans also call for the station to get upgraded studio lighting. Chin fills have also been added to the updated anchor desk, though it notably still does not have any built-in return, preview or other monitors or computer screens like most stations have.

The temporary set in Studio 1 uses a single camera. Sports segments have been being done from the newsroom flash cam position during construction.

Some viewers have called out the station for the rather harsh lighting in the temporary space, though it’s not uncommon at all for temporary sets to have less than ideal lighting. 

Since 2011, WNEP has used a shot like this to toss to its outdoor weather reports. The image of the meteorologist standing outside is simulated, though it is placed directly over where a flat screen panel was positioned, but the effect makes the screen appear larger and clearer.

WNEP produces its weather mostly in an outdoor weather studio called the backyard — and Strub noted that no changes to that are planned — so these segments have been largely unchanged, though tosses are have been switched to boxes instead of the normal wide shot of the studio, as shown above.

An debut date has yet to be determined. 

From Strub’s segment, neither video wall was completely installed, though it’s not clear how far in advance the package was taped.

The station likely still needs to complete its lighting updates as well as conduct rehearsals in the new space. The holiday season is also quickly approaching, so that could push the debut into 2023.

This image of WHAS’s (Louisville) set shows a more typically look for Tegna stations. In general, these sets tend to be cleaner and dominated by wood tones, lighted accents and vertical video panels.

Despite the updates, WNEP’s studio will likely still look significantly different from many of its current sister stations, who have largely been updated in recent years with light-toned and backlit walls with wood accents, anchor desks with wings built from solid, internally lit and frosted surfaces and a row of vertically-mounted video panels behind the anchor desk.

That’s not entirely surprising give that the station has been one of the few Tegna stations to not switch over to the group’s “C Clarity” theme music, instead retaining the “WPXI News Theme” it has used since 1994, which features many of the same elements as the iconic “Move Closer to Your World” theme used by WPVI in Philadelphia.

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WNEP has long been a strong performer in the market and management appears to prefer sticking with tradition over significant changes to the newscasts (though its switch to the Tegna group graphics package is an notable exception).

It also notably still uses the same basic yellow, black and red “16” logo it has used since 1994 with only minor updates, though some variations are monotone and the Futura font used for “Newswatch” and other typography alongside the icon has been dropped. It has also, like many ABC affiliates, updated the ABC globe contained within some variations of the logo.

WNEP competes against Nexstar’s WBRE and Mission’s WYOU, who share studios and staff thanks to an agreement between the two companies, an arrangement that Nexstar has replicated in other markets.

WBRE-WYOU installed a new set in 2019 packed with numerous video walls and panels — and WNEP’s revamped space still won’t reach that level.

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