Sun City TV station upgrades to professionalism

Make-up artist Gail Taboada is working her magic on one of Sun City News' on-air personalities, applying a rosy shade to his lips. Soon Bob Taylor, a sit-in for the regular news anchor, has his game face on.

Meanwhile, Hank Druckerman, in his dual role of producer and director, is making sure the dozen or so onlookers are silent.

"Ladies and gentleman, we're about to begin," Druckerman says.

The recording of the Sun City News begins. The camera is rolling, shots are being monitored on sophisticated equipment and rows of bright lights are casting perfect tones on the stars.

The equipment and working conditions were not always as ideal at Sun City Television. But thanks to a two-room studio that was completed late last year, the station has become a more vital communication tool at Sun City Hilton Head.

"SCTV now has a bigger presence within Sun City," said Druckerman, who once worked in network radio and TV broadcasting at ABC.

"We have taken it from a more or less amateur operation and we're bringing to bear professional production techniques," he said.

Less than a year ago, the studio portion of Sun City News was recorded in a space better fit for storage, above the kitchen at Pinckney Hall. When crews went on location, they had to load equipment onto a moveable cart. "Substandard" was a generous description of the lighting.

In October, Sun City Television moved into its permanent home on the main floor of Pinckney Hall. The space, which had been a billiards room, was reconfigured into a studio with two rooms. A semi-sound proof window was installed to divide the studio floor and the control room.

The estimated cost for the rebuild was $27,500, according to Martin Smith, director of Sun City Hilton Head's pubic relations and communications.

"I think they (SCTV personnel) are interested in building a broad array of substantive programs for Sun City," Smith said. "They want to build a broadcast function that represents the diversity of the community."

About 60 people volunteer at SCTV, including Druckerman, whose puts in about 30 hours a week. About 30 people work on the news program team, which first airs at 7 p.m. on Monday, repeating all week, and changes once a week.

Bob Rasmussen, the news program's chief engineer, said the permanent home has allowed the crews to work more efficiently.

"When we were upstairs, each time we would set up before a board meeting, we would allocate four to six hours of time with multiple people setting up all the equipment. Now, for the board meeting at Magnolia Hall, we go in an hour ahead of time," Rasmussen said.

SCTV, which began in 2002, has three channels exclusively available to Sun City cable TV subscribers. Two of its channels air announcements and advertise the lifestyle at Sun City. A third--and most watched-- channel broadcasts the news program as well as sports, lifestyle, health and wellness shows. The half-hour weekly news show started about two years ago and celebrated its 100th show in October 2010.

On occasion, SCTV partners with Hilton Head Island TV to broadcast some of the island station's programs of specific interest to Sun City residents. Most shows on SCTV are pre-recorded, with the exception of the Sun City quarterly board of directors' meetings and annual board meetings. However, the upgrades could lead to more live broadcasts in the future, Druckerman said.