In television news, challenges are expected, especially when it's for the sake of improvement.
For TUTV, election night served a new challenge.
It was the first time that the Emmy-winning station ran its election coverage in English and Spanish simultaneously. Temple Update, the English-language show, and Lo Último, its Spanish-speaking counterpart, teamed up to promote Lo Último and to continue to improve the amount of coverage it provides.
"We've been doing our Spanish-language news brief for a couple of years now, and for the last two or three semesters, we've had a spanish-language newscast called Lo Último," Peter Jaroff, executive producer of Temple Update, said. "So two of the producers for Lo Último and two of the anchors came to us and said, I don't remember where the idea came from, but we talked about doing part of the election coverage in Spanish because it's a good idea and a good way to promote Lo Último."
Students discussed combining the two shows in the beginning of the semester, but when the election was two weeks away, things got more intense.
Both Lo Último and Temple Update showrunners and anchors embraced the not-so-easy task, with Lo Último anchors Rafael Logroño and Freixys Casado as well as Temple Update anchors Cassie Semyon and Jon Dowding leading the charge on the air. Lo Último producers Monica Logroño and Lianna Golden, as well as its anchors, were major contributors to the simulcast's success.
"We weren't sure exactly how that would work," Jaroff said, "because we had a different anchor team coming in, and how to get them on and off the set, how to format it so that when we come off a break and go back into Spanish or go off a break and come back into English. All those things, because we've never done it before, provided an interesting challenge."
Their work led to smooth transitions both on- and off-camera.
Temple Update has covered multiple elections over the last few years. From small municipal elections in Philadelphia, to presidential elections, the show has covered it all around the area.
Growth, however, is important.
Temple Update and Lo Último's coverage of the 2018 election was the biggest live coverage the station has had for an event that wasn't a presidential election.
"It rivaled a presidential election because in addition to paying attention to our local congressional, senate and governor races, we were also watching races all across the country because they could determine the balance of power in the senate and the house," Jaroff said.
Jaroff appreciates the fact that TUTV is not a ratings-dependent station. He and others strive to give students the richest experience they can get regardless of how many people watch, because it will bode well for their futures.
"When students work on election night, they've done it," he said. "When they go out and work in any capacity, for a campaign or for a news station on election night, they'll have an idea of the excitement and challenges of doing this for real. Because we do it for real, we're live on the air."
Impressively, the only part of their coverage that was scripted was the opening sequence that aired at 8pm.
"The rest of the night was totally unscripted," Jaroff said. "We just told the anchors that we're going to go to quarters, then we'll go to a wide shot and say the numbers, then we'll go to a break, that's all the directors and anchors had. You have to have that kind of fluidity on an election night. The fact that they were able to do that and have that experience is invaluable."
The coverage was slated to go live in five timeslots (8:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.) but the anchors broke in live any time conditions warranted, like with governor Tom Wolf's speech. The station was the only one in Philadelphia to cover his speech live.
Jaroff attributed that flexibility to TUTV General Manager Paul Gluck and Programming and Production Manager George Cummings. Stations like NBC10 and FOX29 don't have that luxury.
"At a commercial station, you don't really get that luxury," Jaroff said. "If people want to enter a program, they would carve out a very specific amount of time. They'd say, 'Okay, when we go on at nine, you'll have three minutes and 48 seconds.' We had a lot of flexibility there. You stay on as long as you need to go on."
Jaroff said in the future he hopes to expand on TUTV's coverage across campus, international countries, and in Washington D.C. What about wall-to-wall coverage?
"I guess it depends on terms of the election. In 2020, maybe we think about that. That's very demanding on personnel and resources. We want to make sure that if we have the content, yes."
Ultimately, it's up to the students.
"The students will say that if we have enough to do it, we'll do it. They'll know. A lot of the innovations with Temple Update and Lo Último, our news briefs, Update Now and Update Ahora, or social media stuff, is students coming up with good ideas to make it better and interesting innovations. They're driving it, and we'll say, 'Okay, let's try it.' They're very good and they work very hard."