News & Insights

13/09/2018

A day in the life of a TV producer by Rashmi Punjabi



I always wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes of the TV world. While viewers watch the action and glamour, back in the studio or newsroom, a dedicated crew member works equally hard to create the on-screen magic: The Producer.

My curiosity about who they are, what they do, and the nuances of their day-to-day role brought me to interview Will Koulouris of Sky News Business. A finance enthusiast and an avid trader, Will aims to educate his viewers through his shows, rather than just having people talk to them. “It’s all about the narrative,” he says.

From booking guests and writing straps and stories, to fielding viewer questions—Will does it all in a day.  As the producer of Trading Day Live on Sky News Business Channel, Will is on the go as soon as he sets his foot in the Holt Street studios at 7am. Here’s what he describes as his average day:

7am – 10am: Will’s day as a producer starts at 7am when he focuses on writing stories for all segments. (He trades between 2am and 6am every day, but that’s a story for another time!). Assimilating all relevant and market-moving news flows coming from overnight, e.g. overseas developments, oil markets, M&A activity from various sources like Reuters, Bloomberg, Australian news sites etc., he drafts live reads for 35-40 seconds each, which run throughout the day.

Will also keeps a close watch on the ASX announcements by listed Australian companies, starting from 8:30 am. He’s careful to dig below the surface. “If you just read toplines of each company report, you are only telling people what the company wants you to tell them. People at home (i.e. everyday investors) don’t need to hear that. To capture the real essence of the story, you need to put that news against their profit and loss statements and analyse what is the ultimate return to shareholders.”

In between those news flows, if there are major company announcements, Will ends up chasing talent to appear on the later segments to talk about the topic. “It ends up being a lot of work”, he says.

10am – 12noon: “That’s when I start worrying about my show. The presenter for my show (usually), Ingrid Willinge, and I sit next to each other. We start prepping together, brainstorming ideas of what guests could be asked.” He starts building out the templates and graphics for his segment and coordinates with the control room at Macquarie Park, who provide the right-arm support to Holt Street News Corp. studios by inputting straps and graphics during shows.

12noon – 2pm: It’s show time! It’s when the guests he’s booked in start to arrive. Will prefers to receive his own guests at the registration desks so that he can “warm them up” while walking them in. “Either you can have a transactional relationship with your guests or develop a connection where you start to understand their interests and passion.

“Those few minutes of interaction are really important for me. I brief them on the focus of the interview and get a sense of their ideas and narrative,” he said.

While the interviews are on, Will is actively engaged in viewing them on his screen, while keeping an eye on the breaking news and what’s coming in from APRA, ASIC, the Productivity Commission, ACCC etc.

His favourite part of the shows? The viewer interaction from 1pm to 2pm. Will personally attends to, and vets, all the viewer emails and puts them forward as questions to the guests. When asked how many emails he receives during the day he casually says, “couple of thousand”, which comprises viewers’ questions and comments, PR pitches, in-house Sky News Business emails and so forth. “I’ve programmed my brain to read them quick and take what I need.”  

2pm – 4pm: He starts setting up for the next day. On the side, he’s still writing stories, cutting grabs, getting the interviews up on the Sky News site and responding to PR emails. He told me this is ‘just a normal day’. There are times when he produces features or “packages” as he calls it, where he does a voice over and produces a 2-3-minute story by himself.

His only advice to PR people (I couldn't help myself from asking!) is, "Know who you're pitching to, just like we have to know our audience". To aspiring TV producers, he advises, "Know your content". 

There was no better person to help me understand a TV producer’s job than Will. His passion for news and markets is admirable and is the perfect example of one simple mantra that can be applied to any profession—knowing what you do ‘inside out’ always helps.

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