Technology sends ‘The Ed Show’ from Detroit Lakes to the masses
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Since he started his television show, "The Ed Show," on MSNBC in 2009, Ed Schultz has usually done his live broadcasts from the cable news network's studios in either New York or Minneapolis.
But as of last Friday, he has begun broadcasting some of his shows live from his Detroit Lakes home, thanks to a state-of-the-art, in-home studio provided courtesy of the network.
"I'd been doing a lot of shows out of Minneapolis, and we put a pencil to it to see if it would be more cost-efficient if we could do a few shows a month from the lake," Schultz said Saturday, shortly before leaving his home for another trip back to the East Coast.
One of the first considerations, Schultz said, was whether the community had sufficient infrastructure in place for him to do his broadcasts via a direct fiber-optic network connection between his lake home and MSNBC's studios in New York.
"It would be done not via satellite, but rather a high-fiber link going from Detroit Lakes to New York and back," Schultz said.
"We started doing some investigating, because we weren't sure there was anybody (who could do it)," he added. "I was pleasantly surprised."
Fortunately, Arvig Inc. had the infrastructure in place to accommodate MSNBC's needs.
So on Dec. 4, a crew from MSNBC came to Schultz's home to help him set up the studio.
"NBC provided everything," Schultz said. "We've got the latest, state-of-the-art equipment in here ... technologically, the show doesn't suffer a bit. We didn't compromise anything by bringing it here to Detroit Lakes. It's pretty amazing.
"I think it's the most sophisticated setup that NBC has done (outside its own studios). They were pretty excited to be able to put this all together. I think this is a real commitment on MSNBC's part.
"We don't know at this point how often we'll be doing shows from here, but considering how much we've been in Minneapolis the last five years, I think it's certainly going to be well worth it. I'll be doing the radio show here from time to time as well."
Schultz added that while he will still be doing about 95 percent of his shows from New York, he expects any future shows he does in Minnesota will be broadcast from Detroit Lakes rather than Minneapolis - which means he will be making considerable use of the new studio.
"I'll be starting my sixth year at MSNBC in January, and I plan to be there at least another six," he said.
Friday's live broadcast from Detroit Lakes went off pretty much without a hitch, Schultz said. The biggest concern came from the fact that while he was provided with a makeup artist to help him with his on-screen makeup in both New York and Minneapolis, there was no one there to do it Friday save his wife, Wendy. She made a last-minute run to Walmart that afternoon to pick up about a dozen different makeup compacts so they could find the right color.
"We were sharing some makeup, too," Wendy joked, noting that Ed used her eyebrow pencil.
"I didn't tell (the MSNBC technicians), because I figured they'd tell me if there was something wrong," Schultz said. "It would be nice to have a good hair and makeup person here in Detroit Lakes."
(Yes, they are currently looking for someone, he noted.)
The next show that will be broadcast from Detroit Lakes will be on Dec. 20. After that, Schultz plans to stay at their lake home until after the new year (the show will be on a break during Christmas week), and will be doing at least three or four more shows from here before returning to New York.
Because most of the guests on Schultz's show join him via a satellite feed rather than face to face, the location of the broadcast doesn't really matter all that much when it comes to who he is able to interview each week.
For instance, on Friday's show, he had guests join him from Madison, Wis., Washington, D.C., and Pensacola, Fla.
"The way the technology is set up, there clearly are no limitations to doing a show here in Detroit Lakes (versus New York)," Schultz said.
He doesn't even need to have anyone else in the house to help him; the camera is set up in such a way that he can adjust the view from wide angle to close-up with the touch of a button. The background consists of a large-screen, high-definition television monitor that can project a variety of views. On Friday it showed a view of the lake behind Schultz's home, complete with ice fishing houses.
"I think this is a real statement by the president of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, who realizes that (reporting the news) is not all about the metro, it's also about connecting with rural, small-town America, too," said Schultz, noting that he and Griffin had begun talking in September about bringing the show to Detroit Lakes.
"It all started happening pretty fast after that," he added.
Schultz is pretty excited about being able to do some genuinely regional reporting once the upcoming political season kicks into high gear.
"There will be some good benefits to doing the show from here, production-wise," he said. "As summer comes along, we will do some news features from this part of the country, too. I'm pretty excited to be doing this. It's new and innovative."
Schultz also said he never envisioned being able to do something like this when he started at MSNBC almost six years ago.
"When I first moved to this house (in Detroit Lakes) in the spring of 2005, I had just started doing my national radio show, which was about a year old, and I would sit here at the counter and watch MSNBC and CNN, and scream at my TV. ... Now nine years later, I'm sitting in my home, doing a cable show for MSNBC. It's a little surreal. I guess dreams do come true."