RFD-TV’s New Home: Reconnecting City and Country

RFD-TV’s New Home: Reconnecting City and Country

NOTE: An enhanced, interactive version of the article below as it appeared in our magazine is available for viewing here.

When Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV, started this network in 1988, he always visualized that one day he would be building a state of the art television production facility. It was 27 years later that his vision became a reality. On Monday, March 23, 2015, RFD-TV reached its biggest milestone yet, ushering in a new era when the network started originating from its new corporate headquarters and production studios on historic Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee.

HOW THE DREAM BECAME REALITY

For the past two years, RFD-TV had been working with Red Development to research opportunities for relocation and had narrowed the states down to Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Having offices in both Omaha and Nashville was no longer ideal. Senior managementknew that with the media business evolving and growing at such a rapid pace, RFD-TV needed to stay on top of the curve. It was time to pull the trigger and combine all of its assets into one location, plus build a premier television studio to reflect what RFD-TV is today. Plans were already in the works for designing the new corporate headquarters from the dirt up when Brian Hughes, Chief Revenue & Strategy Officer, called Patrick on July 1, 2014 and said he had an interesting opportunity that came across his desk. Brian informed Patrick that GAC (Great American Country) owned by Scripps Networks had recently vacated its offices on Music Row and moved back to Scripps Headquarters in Knoxville, TN leaving all their equipment and office furniture. Once again, as Patrick always says, “When we need something, the sky magically opens and out drops what we need.” Needless to say, Patrick jumped on a flight immediately to tour the GAC facilities. Within 24 hours of his first tour, the decision was made that Music Row would be the new home of RFD-TV. “The first time I toured the building, I saw what impeccable shape it was in and how beautifully engineered the facility already was from the work GAC had invested. I saw the immediate potential for RFD-TV to come in, make it reflect who we are and finally be on our way to reaching our true potential.” RFD-TV did not simply want to just take the keys and move in. Senior management wanted to use this opportunity to really take RFD-TV to the next level and beyond. “We could have moved in, just moved over our old set and hit the on-air button, but that was not good enough,” said Patrick. “It was time for RFD-TV to have a makeover, staying true to our core values and audience, yet reflect a television network in modern day rural America. We were long overdue – not just for a facelift, but for an awakening. Television news has gone through tremendous changes editorially and technically, and it was time for RFD-TV to do the same. And not just on the news side, but across all aspects of programming. News is just the start.”

GARY KANOFSKY HIRED AS CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER & EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF NEWS

It’s no secret around RFD-TV, Patrick is a dreamer and likes to see immediate results. Therefore it was time to hire the right person to help reach this full potential. Gary Kanofsky, a veteran of NBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, CBS, and Al Jazeera America, had assembled an impressive portfolio during his 35 year career as a production executive, newsroom leader, and technologist. “The first time I talked to Gary on the phone, I knew I had found my guy,” Patrick recounted. Gary felt the same. “Patrick’s passion was infectious,” said Gary. “Here’s a guy who succinctly explained the importance of rural America – and then flat-out challenged me to work with him to help make his network better. How could I say no?”

THE DESIGN

Gary’s first phone call was to Jim Fenhagen, Senior Vice President of PDG Jack Morton. Jim is one of the TV industry’s most admired creators of sets for everyone from CBS to the Vancouver Olympics. With designer Camille Connolly, Jim conceived a set which preserves the network’s roots, but incorporated all the modern bells and whistles expected from a major cable network today. “This is the only set I’ve done that manages to evoke the feeling of a contemporary log cabin but is really a state of the art production center,” said Jim. The multi-purpose stage is highlighted by a main anchor desk and flanked by a battery of ten edgeless Primeview 60" plasma monitors. The gorgeous new anchor desk sits on a riser made of wood planks. The studio evokes a rustic quality, complete with barn doors and wood beams spanning the ceiling, without being the least bit kitschy or cliché. In addition to the main anchor set, there is an intimate interview area, complete with a fireplace, a music and demo area, a weather center, and a green screen area. “I could not be more pleased with what PDG Jack Morton has created here for RFD-TV,” said Patrick. “The first time I saw the design, I was amazed that someone could understand who RFD-TV was so well and so quickly.” To ensure that things were executed as beautifully as they were designed, Gary hired Showman Fabricators to build the set. Gary then brought in multiple Emmy Award Winner Niel Galen of LDG Group to ensure the various stage components were lit to perfection. The design extends a brand new look to RFD-TV throughout the broadcast day. Imaging and promotion are based on an entirely new template created by Big Studios out of Toronto, Canada. It’s a look that captures the feeling of ruralAmerica in a manner that is fresh and graphic. New network ID’sOur cozy interview set feels like home,complete with a fireplace welcoming our guests with a very intimate feel.transport the RFD-TV logo out, literally, into the middle of the land. “This identity package, in a very effective way, establishes that RFD-TV is an important network that is quite literally connected to the land it serves,” say Jocelyn Meinert and Mike Moore, creative leads on the motion graphics part of the project. Included in the makeover were brand new title sequences for MARKET DAY REPORT, the RURAL EVENING NEWS, and RURAL AMERICA LIVE.

Next up, a complete overhaul of the network look and news graphics. Retained to tackle the mammoth project, Gary hired MotionPath Graphics of Montreal. The new graphic look ties in well with the set and respects RFD-TV’s traditional color palette, but adds contemporary touches. The financial boards and charts used to showcase the agricultural markets, as well as all the other non-data graphics, blend a unique mix of gold, yellow and brown – artfully bound with platinum and white. It’s a fresh look – and again, unique to RFD-TV. “With all the blue and red on TV these days, RFD-TV will be unmistakable,” says Anton Maximovsky, president of MotionPath. Gary wanted MotionPath to buck a trend he says he finds “boring.” “Everyone these days is flat. I challenged Anton and his team to produce something loaded with energy, movement, and tack-sharp color. And he’s done it, and then some.” On the technology front, Gary also had to make a lot of choices. “Although we inherited a spectacular facility from GAC, most the gear left behind was Standard Definition, not High Definition. So when it came time to plan the build for RFD-TV’s launch in the new space, we realized that although there was plenty of stuff in the racks, we were really starting with a clean slate.” RFD-TV now has built out an all-new suite of digital production tools, supporting video, graphics, data, remote communications, and much more.

REAL NEWS IN REAL TIME

As part of the graphic overhaul of the network, RFD-TV is also moving away from 15 minute delayed quotes to real-time data feeds of commodities, equities, indexes, and ETF’s. Viewers now see financial data on the move – quite literally as it’s moving. “It’s costly to build this infrastructure, but our viewers deserve nothing less than real-time, and Patrick wants to see this done. And of course, he’s entirely correct,” Gary says. In addition to enhancing RFD-TV’s signature studio product, installations in Chicago and Washington D.C., are adding live capabilities for the network’s reporters at the Board of Trade (where agricultural commodities are traded daily) and at the Department of Agriculture (where the network’s bureau chief routinely tracks policy developments affecting the agricultural markets).

LIVE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME

Also new to RFD-TV –the ability to originate live from virtually any location –anytime, anywhere. RFD-TV has now acquired state-of-the-art mobile remote production systems from Dejero. “We’re looking forward to sending our crews out along the backroads across America,” said Patrick. “We want to connect with our viewers and cover everything from major exhibitions to state fairs to the fascinating people across our great nation. It’s important for our viewers to see more directly that RFD-TV stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them on the issues they care about.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the entire network redesign and new corporate headquarters for RFD-TV. “I couldn’t be more proud of what we’re doing,” said Patrick. “Yes, we’re spending millions on technology and studio space, but we’re only doing it for one reason: to be better equipped to tell, as best we can, the important stories that matter to the audience we truly love and respect.”

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