with Dan Hickey ’04 | Director of Communications
For the last two years, Chelsea Garbe ’15 worked at the WSBT television station in Granger, IN, which covers greater South Bend and Southwestern Michigan. She first worked dayside and nightside before taking over as the 6:00am weekday morning producer. During her time there, she was part of the highest-rated morning show in that region, outpacing both Good Morning America and CBS Mornings. In February, Chelsea moved to WSYX in Columbus, OH, an affiliate of ABC and Fox, where she produces their 10:00pm show Wednesday through Friday and the Saturday and Sunday 6:00pm and 11:00pm shows.
What is your role before and during each show?
Before each show, I’m looking for the biggest stories. I look at the major news stations for what’s leading their coverage to drive what I put into my show. I also rely on breaking news from the nightside and dayside producers. I also look at show rundowns for local stories that are relevant to the viewers in our region. The show is not set until the night before–I can’t plan a show any further ahead unless something massive happens.
During the show, I’m in the producer’s booth. I work closely with the director and audio. I time the show so we don’t go over. I stay in touch with field reporters, producers, and managers. I am on Twitter and Facebook looking for breaking news. I enjoy the fast pace and moving parts that accompany a live show.
Does a breaking news moment stand out to you that you had to cover?
We once had a local congresswoman who was killed in a car accident. It was a major story in our area. I created special set-ups and live interviews with outside political experts. Those stories require great care and a quick response.
What is the most stressful thing you’ve had to deal with? Has an anchor cursed on air or anything?
[laughter] No, thankfully none of my anchors have cursed. We did have a cyber attack last fall. We were hacked by a group called Evil Corp an hour before the morning show. The hackers were manipulating computers, we couldn’t log into computers, editors couldn’t get video up, we lost our teleprompter, we couldn’t get commercials on the air. It was a mess.
There were definitely moments of internal panic, but I couldn’t show that to the team. I had to keep a level head. We split up responsibilities between the engineers, Master Control, and me and rigged it. We came on just after 6:30am and had to do an entire show without a commercial break for fear of losing connection. But we did it.
Where did you first find your spark for media?
After Stony Brook, I went to Suffolk CC to study hospitality management, but I always loved media and was interested in growing into that. I transferred to Oswego, which has a great media department. I began producing for a news channel that broadcast throughout the city and fell in love with it.
How did COVID affect your day-to-day work at the station?
I began working at WSBT in January of 2020. Two months later COVID started and the news director sent the experienced producers home for what became the rest of the year. I worked at the station. At that time, I worked 4:00pm dayside producing Zoom segments for the air. It was not ideal, but it was a helpful growth opportunity. I was able to pick up slack and do things I might not normally get to do. I familiarized myself with the rundown. I helped with writing stories. It was a blessing in disguise career-wise.
How did SBS prepare you for your role as a show producer?
There were so many opportunities to learn how to communicate inside the classroom, as well as outside of it through things like community dinners. I also learned so much about people, people who were different from me. I also had a lot of responsibilities to juggle at Stony Brook, and I take that knowledge into work every day–I am always multi-tasking in my role.
It still surprises me that I went into this field because I was so quiet at Stony Brook, but the community helped prepare me. What I would tell others who are interested in this field, or any field for that matter, is to explore it if you have interest. Don’t be scared.
Where do you see Character Before Career in your work?
There is a lot of stress in the newsroom. It can be easy to forget how to treat people when something needs to get done–now! Character Before Career–it’s allowed me to remain understanding and patient, to rely on teamwork, and to treat people well, even in a high-pressure environment.
Nice write-up and article! Great to read of Chelsea adjusting her education and training once she found something that was more interesting to her.