‘Good Morning,’ TV8
AVON A large, dusty hole in the ground filled with rubble subsists where the Sunbird Lodge in Lionshead once stood. And as the demolition team watched the building crumble this spring, the crew at TV8 was able to piece its dreams together.Today the staff of “Good Morning Vail” celebrates 15 years in the making with the grand opening of a brand-new state-of-the-art media center in Avon. They’re counting on its success come this holiday weekend. “Last Fourth of July weekend, TV8 couldn’t do a live show,” said Dick Nelson, director, producer and editor for TV8. “The air conditioning went out, and it drove the switchers completely nuts. The old equipment was pretty long in the tooth.”Of course that was when the studio resided in the Sunbird Lodge, one of the older buildings in Vail. When the decade-old Lionshead Core redevelopment project finally got under way, plans to demolish the lodge and replace it with a European-style streetscape, including luxury hotel and condominium units, forced the studio to find a new home. No one at TV8 was complaining.
“If you’ve been to the old studio and you’ve been here, you kind of need to be revived with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because the difference is so dramatic,” said Craig Struve, director of television operations for Vail Resorts. “It’s something that gives us a little more credibility, not only for the wow factor but also from a viewer factor.”The fact that they have a thermostat they can actually control is a step up, but that’s the least of the station’s improvements. The studio has converted primarily to digital broadcasting, as opposed to an analog facility. Instead of ingesting footage in one place and physically running the tape to another to make the edits, everything is at their fingertips and much faster. It’s like the difference between using a digital camera and a film camera.The gold-standard control room is as high-tech as any studio in the industry, ensuring sharper images and bolder, more vivid color to viewer’s TV screens.”The robustness of this room is really what excites me. People can expect a lot of new shows,” said Josh Stowell, editor, director, producer, and photographer at TV8.
Stowell explained how the upgrade in technology affords TV8 a bigger presence in the Vail Village as the new equipment will allow live remote feeds from locations other than the lift line at the gondola in Lionshead.Struve said he expects that by next winter, the live remote will also include Beaver Creek and Eagle, and eventually Gypsum.The ski-chic decor of the new facility reflects the attitude of the valley it serves, one that has reinvented itself to mirror the growth and redevelopment from Vail to Gypsum. Walking in to the green room, one immediately feels at home among the pillowy leather couches and coffee table flanked by a wood-paneled interior and vintage posters of Vail. The sunny gold and bright blue color scheme, complete with an Aspen tree, shines in the natural light from the row of windows along partitioned workspaces. The modern open-air studio boasts a newsdesk, weather station and functioning kitchen, as well as the main set.
“It’s about time,” said “Good Morning Vail” co-host Linda Gufstason, who has been with the station since February 1991. “It’s just great to see that TV8 has a facility that represents what we do.” Gufstason, who helped construct the old nonfunctioning, makeshift kitchen that a Formica countertop placed on a table in Sunbird, said she’s especially impressed with the new kitchen,”We have a real oven, a refrigerator, running water, which is great for chefs and with dining being such an important aspect of the valley.”Good Morning Vail, the station’s signature show, airs live from 7-9 a.m. during the summer and 7-10 a.m. during the winter season. It garners a notable 28 share during the spring/summer season, and an impressive 13 rating and a 35 share during the winter season – NBC’s “Today Show” finishes a distant second. The station provides up-to-the-minute weather, grooming and mountain conditions, animated moving trail maps for the mountain reports in both winter and summer, crucial to guests and locals alike.
“I love it. It’s a huge improvement over the old studio,” said Jeff Gaskin, Gufstason’s co-host on Good Morning Vail. “Everything is state of the art. It has a more professional look while still bringing our casual atmosphere to the show.”When Struve was hired in 1991, a year after the TV station’s genesis, then-Vail Resorts CEO and TV8 brainchild, George Gillette, had plans for a new studio alongside Lionshead’s redevelopment project. Struve intended to stay only until the new facility was built. “When Vail Associates became Apollo Investments, then all of that was basically put on hold,” Struve, a former CBS reporter and anchorman, said. “The capital expenditures for Vail Resorts were reprioritized and redevelopment was not necessarily a top priority. That coupled with a little bit of an economic downturn, followed by 911, made it really difficult for the Lionshead redevelopment to happen.” Until now.
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Vail Resorts has had a good financial picture the last few years, and with the real estate boom of the mid-2000s, Struve said, Vail Resorts has been able to make the redevelopment a reality. Fourteen years later, TV8’s director has kept his promise.”This is the culmination of a lot of our dreams over the years, including George Gillette’s,” Struve said. “This is what the business deserves. This is what the staff deserves. We want this TV station to be an asset to the whole valley from Vail to Gypsum.”Arts & Entertainment writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or email@example.com.Vail Colorado
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