Rock ‘n’ Rolling to Multi-Platform Coverage: WRAL-TV’s Historic Run

“I think what we provided was the best tour of Raleigh on two feet!”
– WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Jeff Hogan

Jeff Hogan & Renee Chou

WRAL-TV’s Jeff Hogan shows off his medal, being cheered on by WRAL-TV’s Renee Chou, on a live feed he carried during the 2018 Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, April 8.

WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Jeff Hogan might be the new kid on WRAL Morning News block, but he is already making major strides for the team.  An avid exercise enthusiast, Hogan jumped at the chance to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on April 8, 2018, and turned his 13.1 miles into a multi-platform adventure for the Big 5.

In a planning meeting about coverage for the Rock ‘n’ Roll event, which WRAL-TV has sponsored for the five years the race has been in Raleigh, Hogan suggested he run with an Osmo, a stabilizer for a hand-held camera or mobile phone.

WRAL-TV Social Media Manager Wendy Gatlin immediately responded, “Let’s run with it!”

Jeff Hogan, The Running Man
The Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was not Hogan’s first rodeo by a long shot.  He has run almost 30 full marathons, including the Boston Marathon, as well as 50k distance races, a couple of 50-mile distance runs and a 100-mile trail run.  He finished that Indiana Trail 100 in 23 hours and 48 minutes.

He has also participated in more than 30 triathlons of different distances.

So obviously, Hogan had the running part down.  And he brought a great idea with him from a previous market for coverage of his Rock ‘n’ Roll run.

“This was not the first time I have gone live while running a race, but it was the first half marathon (the other times were 5k’s),” he explained.  “It was also the first time I streamed live (on WRAL.com) and was simultaneously on Facebook Live and real-time back and forth banter.”

Making History
“Once he said he was going to do it, we had the guys from Engineering test his phone to make sure it had enough equipment and batteries,” explained Gatlin.

2018 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

The view from the camera of WRAL-TV’s Jeff Hogan as he crosses the finish line at the 2018 Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon: his colleagues at WRAL-TV.

They outfitted Hogan with a backpack to carry the equipment, as well as setting up the LiveView app on his phone with the Osmo.  So Hogan was running, talking, and holding the camera on himself.

WRAL-TV had a team at the start and then finish line to report on race day.  WRAL viewers could tune in live on Facebook and WRAL.com as well as catching live reports on the WRAL Sunday Morning News.

“We went into the control room that morning and starting talking to him to tell him what folks were saying on Facebook,” said Gatlin.  “It turned out to be this great thread of inspiration.  It was so beautiful.”

She continued, ““Another huge win was the fact that we talk about multi-platform and how we’re a digital newsroom and talk about how we’re going to cover an event.  This was perfect.”

Viewers could comment, virtually talking to Hogan, on Facebook.  Then the video and comments could be pushed to WRAL-TV on the air.  WRAL.com also had the livestream.

“Facebook was pushing our other platforms, including dot com and TV – a big, happy marriage of platforms,” said Gatlin.  “This is the blueprint of how it should be done.”

Major Multi-Tasking
WRAL viewers could tune in live on Facebook and WRAL.com as well as catching reports on the WRAL Sunday Morning News.

Gatlin fed Hogan comments and questions from the Facebook Live feed.  Hogan’s livestream was miked for audio, so he could then repeat the queries and answer them via the live feed.

Wendy Gatlin

WRAL-TV’s Wendy Gatlin works from the control room, communicating Facebook Live questions to WRAL-TV’s Jeff Hogan as he runs the 2018 Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

“Jeff is a superstar,” she said.  “He managed to not only run the half marathon and talk during the whole thing.  He also timed it so he was able to cross the finish line on live TV at 9:30am.”

“I was seriously dying,” said Hogan.  “You could hear me breathing heavily.  And I wasn’t going fast – I thought it was more important to stay engaged and see if we could hold people until the end.”

Hogan sacrificed speed for connection but got a bonus in return.

“It made the race go by super fast because I was engaged in so many other ways (talking with people online as well as on the course, changing batteries, getting info from Wendy, producers, doing live hits), I forgot how tired I was.”

“This is our bionic man!” said Gatlin.  “Jeff is a clever guy, a genuine guy, He really genuinely wants people to get excited about fitness.”

Hogan definitely pulled in an audience.  On race day his Facebook Live run drew 17,000 views.

“I think what we provided was the best tour of Raleigh on two feet!” said Hogan.

Jeff Hogan, Renee Chou & Adam Owens

WRAL-TV’s Jeff Hogan gets a selfie with Renee Chou & Adam Owens on the live feed right after he finishes the 2018 Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

A Team Effort
Hogan and Gatlin played pivotal roles in the historic race coverage for WRAL.  But they are quick to recognize the large crew that helped make this multiple-platform event news events happen.

“Also very rewarding was the excitement of the teamwork within the building,” said Hogan, “from engineering to director, producer, social, web, and on-air execution/interaction with anchors, in-studio and on course.  Just a great day!”

Gatlin was all full of kudos for the entire crew who made the “live run” happen, including WRAL-TV Producer Nacarla Webb for her “fantastic producing” and the WRAL digital team who got things up on the website.

“Mikaya on the desk did a great job maneuvering everything,” said Gatlin of WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Mikaya Thurmond.

“What really charged me was that double screen experience, and that Jeff made sure people were aware of it,” said Gatlin.  “That was really solid.  It’s really like long-form storytelling.  We couldn’t have done that anywhere else.  FB was the only place to have that live.  It was a win all the way around.”

Watch the VIDEO

Thanks to WRAL.com & WRAL-TV’s Wendy Gatlin for these capcom photos & screen captures.

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