7News upgrades live gear

Lawton_You may have noticed we are getting more adventurous with our stories here at 7News, that's all thanks to what we call the "Nextel Project." It's a way to go live in the field anywhere the story is. So now you see what we see, live as it happens. Anywhere in Lawton, and soon, anywhere in Texoma.

We can go live from virtually anywhere in Lawton. Before we had two live trucks with a tall mast, and the dish on top had to be almost within eye-shot of our tower here at the station to get a signal back. Now we have four cars that can also go live, with this little antenna that bounces the signal off of buildings and hills until it finds the tower.

Here's how it works:

For the last six years we have been upgrading our equipment so that we can send video back live to the station in any breaking news situation. Just one month ago, each of our news cars got the ability to do just that. "It's just a simple point up, turn on, there you are," said 7-News Chief Engineer Nathan Bowers. "Everything in the car is completely wireless, away from the camera, all the way to the vehicle."

And now each car also has a dash cam, which can send back live video as we drive, following breaking news like tornados and wildfires.

"Now in each one of the vehicles there's also a microphone plug in the front of the vehicle, where the talent and the driver can drive down the road, talk while they're on air while behind whatever they want to chase behind," Bowers said.

But our live trucks aren't out of commission. They got their own upgrades, and among our favorite -- the camera mounted to the top of the mast. "Each one of the live trucks now has an eagle eye located on the top of the mast," Bowers said. "Each one of the mast is about 30 foot, so you can raise it up and point down into like stadiums, or arena areas, places like that."

It's not just better news coverage in the field -- it's easier on our production crew too. "Behind the scenes its 10 times easier," Bowers said. "Each one of the cars is on a specific channel, that receiver automatically picks that channel up, and if you're able to get it, you're there."

Now we're only about a fourth of the way through the nextel project. Coming next we'll install antennas and receivers on each of the towers where our tower cams are located. So if we want to go live in Duncan, Altus or Wichita Falls, the photographer can send a live signal to that city's tower, and it will bounce back to the station here in Lawton.