Pa. station upgrades set with new video walls, anchor desk tweaks

WNEP in ScrantonWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, has moved back into its old studio, which underwent some updates over late 2022 and early 2023.

The core of the set remains largely the same — though the space has been updated with new duratrans, video wall technology and updates to the anchor desk.

The station upgraded the 3×3 video wall directly behind the anchor desk to a lower-profile, but not seamless, array.

On either side of the panels, the station updated the formerly wood-toned columns to faux stacked stone, which brings some texture to the space.

The duratrans were swapped out and now sport an updated design featuring a variety of 3D renderings of the station’s “16” logo. Blended in is “The News Station” tagline along with text reading “Newswatch 16” along with imagery of mountainscapes, a nod to the region’s home amid the Appalachians and Pocono plateau. 

One entirely new element is an additional freestanding 3×3 video wall situated far camera left of home base.

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Positioning it in this location allows the station to use it for standups and a way to toss to its outdoor weather studio, branded as “The Backyard.”

This is the first time in decades that views see a real monitor being used to toss to weather from the studio. Previously, the station used various techniques to generate the shot, including chroma key, a simulated monitor inserted over a real, on-set one to make it larger and clearer and a still view of the set layered over the live view of a pole-mounted camera to toss the weather.

According to sources, a rear projection screen back in the days these were used instead of LED panels wasn’t an option and issues with green or blue reflections required the station to use composite shots in the past. Before moving onto this set in 2003, the station used one with large chroma key walls to simulate the look of RPs.

In addition to these updates, the station’s anchor desk, which is mostly leftover from a 2003 set, got a new frosted glass top with the section directly below it resurfaced in white.

In this latest round of changes, the desk also lost the “wings” that were added in a 2011 update. The offset glass panel mounted to its surface with standoffs has been scaled back as well.

The anchor desk tweaks bring WNEP’s look more in line with other Tegna-owned stations’ sets. A faux stone is another element that’s often used by stations in the group in some way. 

However, the collage-style duratrans design are more atypical of Tegna sets, which often tend to rely more on broad surfaces of backlit panels with minimal or no adornments.

WNEP also dropped the use of freestanding monitors on either side of the set, which have been used to display topical and branded graphics next to anchors’ one-shots.

The new video wall camera left, meanwhile, is used for anchor and reporter standups and sports as well as tosses to outdoor weather. In recent weeks, extreme wind chills meant the station also used it to present weather.

When used for talent tosses to or from the anchor desk, the reporter or anchor has to turn and take a step or two in order to avoid appearing directly in the middle of the array.

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In addition to the physical changes, the station also introduced an updated generic video wall look that incorporates a faint diamond from the shared group news graphics package but adds a 3D, oversized “16” along with gentle rolling mountains. A similar look is now also fed to the monitor on the front of the anchor desk.

When the new set first launched Jan. 26, 2023, the station relied mainly on two-shots to show anchors as it broke in the new set, but has since started cross-shooting for one-shots.

Overall, the change largely represents another step in the studio’s evolution away from the design that debuted in 2003 (though the 2011 update included getting new walls).

WNEP serves a market that is perhaps more averse to changes on TV as most and likely wants to avoid making drastic changes for fear of upsetting its large, dedicated viewer base.

In March 2020, the station switched over to the standard Tegna graphics package, a design that is drastically different from what many of its stations were using, including WNEP, which caused some viewer complaints.

WNEP did not, however, switch to the “C Clarity” music its sister stations did, instead keeping its remixed version of “Move Closer to Your World” known as the “WPXI News Theme.”