Job Shadow: Production manager works behind the scenes

By Nick Schauer

Having worked his way up to Operations Director at WEAU, Tom


Tom Benson has multiple duties as operations director that make each day a little different. ©Nick Schauer 2015

Benson doesn’t have many opportunities to direct newscasts and other productions anymore, but enjoys stepping in when he can.

After graduating high school Benson knew he was interested in broadcasting and television.   He attended college in Superior, where he obtained a degree in broadcasting.  After working at KDLH-TV in Duluth, Minn., he decided to move closer to home and was hired at WEAU TV-13.

A job in production contains various tasks and is going to require a very “PC-based mind,” according to Benson.  Current production staff direct the live newscasts, monitor the four TV-13 channels to make sure everything is running smoothly and that the correct commercials are airing, and ingest new programs into the computer to keep the television content updated.  Camera and audio persons are not always necessary at the WEAU TV 13 studio.  They currently use robotic cameras that are programmed to switch between different shots.  All the settings for a show are pre-programmed into a computer before the show.  Some examples of these settings are graphics, camera shots, and audio levels.  At the television station on campus we do all these different tasks manually.  Having the settings programmed has allowed production staff to run the show more smoothly.  Although it is now harder to make adjustments during the show, according to staff.

When looking to hire someone for a position on his production team, Benson looks for people with a general interest and passion for producing TV. According to Benson a production position can be very different between stations because there are many different ways to broadcast live television.  He understands that people will require training but if they are really passionate about the career they will do great.

“It all starts with management” Benson said.  “If the management is good, the employees will work hard, and everyone’s a lot happier.”

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