NBC Studio Tour

Okay so with the bad start to the day out of the way it was time to hit the streets of New York City. Arriving from New Jersey at the subway station at Madison Square Garden I walked a few blocks to the NY yellow subway line station and caught it a few stops up to 60th street. My sister Lucy had asked me to look for a Holga camera for her from a shop called Urban Outfitters. As soon as I got in there I found it, so that was easy. From there I walked down to Rockefeller Center and had lunch in the concourse below the building. My tour was booked in for 1pm, and I had some time to kill so I sat there reading for a while.

I’d purchased my ticket online so I had to pick it up half an hour before the tour was set to start. The tour started from the NBC Experience store, basically a huge gift shop with items from all the NBC shows. They had Donald Trump’s Apprentice t-shirts with “You’re Fired” on clearance sale, since the Donald himself ironically got the axe earlier this year. They didn’t have anything Conan that I liked, not that I have room for much more in my suitcases anyway.

The tour got underway with a video about the history of NBC, it started out as a radio station and then became a TV broadcaster when that came along. The first stop on the tour was the famous Studio 8H where they record Saturday Night Live, a live sketch show that has been running since 1975 and has been the discovery place of talents such as Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, Billy Crystal, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell. This was probably the highlight of the tour, it was explained how the sets where erected inside such a small space.

Next we were taken past the main control room, which is responsible for beaming NBC out to over 200 affiliate stations around the country. There was only a couple of guys in there, they aren’t responsible for any of the cutting or censoring, just making sure the right feed goes to the right city. The room has an interruptible power supply that is composed for 75 batteries under the building, which will keep it running long enough for diesel fuel to be pumped to the generators on the 70th floor of the building.

Walking through the halls of the building they had signed photos of every guest host of SNL throughout the years as well as lots of props and other artifacts. We were next shown a make-up video about how SNL has such a short time to work in. After that the group was taken into a mini studio and two people were selected, one to read the news off the teleprompter and one to do the weather in front of the green screen.

The final stop of the tour was the set of the Today show. That was pretty boring, but its pretty similar to the Sunrise set in Sydney so if you can imagine that, that is what it was like. The tour had listed Conan’s studio as a stop, but I assume it was skipped because they would have been in rehearsal. Still, it was good tour and worth the money.  It was good to get back to the safety of the hotel though; it was a pretty draining day.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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