Kenworth Truck Co played a role in helping to provide national election night coverage for NBC directly from Al Gore headquarters in Nashville TN and George Bush headquarters in Austin TX. NBC used its newly purchased Kenworth T800 trucks as mobile television studios on wheels at each candidate's election-night headquarters.
Both T800s are equipped with a 34-foot van body containing about $800,000 in digital processing equipment. The truck can support up to six camera crews, three correspondents, and a three- to four- person production team of audio/video engineers. Electronics provides all parties with full communications.
NBC could simultaneously beam up to six picture feeds to a satellite via each Kenworth. In addition, each mobile broadcast center had full video and audio editing equipment, allowing the crew to produce an entire show on-site, if required. Frontline Communications Corp of Clearwater FL did all the van body and electronic installation work, while Inland Kenworth in Los Angeles CA sold the vehicles to NBC.
According to Chuck Klein, maintenance supervisor for NBC's West Coast operations, the network had been running medium-duty straight trucks in this application for several years, but reliability problems were becoming an issue.
"We needed a durable truck that, from Los Angeles, could handle everything west of the Mississippi, including steep mountain grades," said Klein.
NBC ordered a second truck, stationed in Chicago IL, to cover the Midwest.
"It has a lot to do with who our drivers are," said Klein. "They aren't truckers; they are audio/video engineers who have learned to be truck drivers. The semi-automatic transmission makes driving easier for them and a little less intimidating."
Image also played a role in NBC's decision to go with the T800, said Klein, noting that the T800's sloped hood and sleek look complemented the graphics package. The Los Angeles-based vehicle, nicknamed "Beach Boy" by NBC technical staff, features graphics that depict a shark leaning against a surfboard, holding a cell phone, and watching TV. The Chicago-based truck, nicknamed "Snow Boy," illustrates a polar bear reclined in the snow watching a TV that sits on a block of ice.