The Cleveland Stater is published online and in print by students enrolled in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University.
The Innerlink: A CLASS Publication
BY VINCE FRATIANI
Local television station WKYC-Channel 3 took their signature CSU SkyCam offline from its perch atop Rhodes Tower after 13 years last summer.
But the camera is back and now in high definition.
The camera started operation in November 1995 as a featured video feed during traffic and weather reports. With a good vantage point facing west, the SkyCam featured views of the major highways, Interstates 71 and 77, to the south of CSU, plus the Cleveland skyline.
WKYC and Cleveland State University entered a fair trade agreement to make the camera a reality. In exchange for the use of Rhodes Tower for mounting the camera, Channel 3 offered both the naming rights (CSU SkyCam) and on-air mention of the CSU SkyCam during each newscast, totaling about 75 mentions per week, according the Brian Johnston, CSU director of marketing and public affairs.
Rhodes Tower, as seen from Chester Avenue, provides an excellent vantage point over the city.
“The terms of that original contract remained in effect until mid-2008, when the camera was temporarily scuttled by the station during the transition to high definition technology,” Johnston said.
WKYC Head Engineer Mike Szabo said the original skycam experienced techinical issues related to aging technology. A shortage of HD cameras to replace the skycam prompted the hiatus, according to Johnston.
Channel 3 began looking for a new sponsor for the camera because of the high purchase price for the new HD equipment.
“CSU always had the right of first refusal, and due to budget and priority issues, we turned down the sponsorship deal,” Johnston said.
WKYC found a sponsor in Regency Windows, a local remodeling company with offices in Twinsburg and Columbus. The camera returned in December 2008, now called the Regency Window Cam.
In addition to traffic and weather, the camera is also used for shots coming in and out of commercials on newscasts. It is often used as a background for reporters via chroma key technology (a “green screen” for example), according to Szabo.
“In return for the new HD camera being installed on Rhodes Tower last fall, however, we negotiated fair trade in advertising for CSU (a value of $24,000 per year) to be in effect for five years, with a 3 percent increase in dollar value each year the contract is in effect,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that the contract is very CSU friendly and that, “CSU’s relationship with WKYC is very good.”
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