Say hello to TruckBeat's new mobile studio

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

TruckBeat's story

TruckBeat officially launched in November. Since the beginning, we knew we needed a truck where we could set up a recording studio. And it had to be a food truck-style truck. So, we searched everywhere, all over the country and the Internet. Turns out it’s not as easy as it sounds to find a food truck – without a kitchen, in good condition and for sale within a reasonable distance of Knoxville – and of course,  that fit into our modest budget. We started losing hope. Plan A quickly turned into Plan B. 

But then we got a lucky break. 

In December, a chance meeting with Channel 10 WBIR reporter Becca Habegger led to a juicy tip. The station was selling its old 1982 news truck, which WBIR bought so they could broadcast live from the World's Fair. For decades, it's been known to many around town by its nickname, “the bread truck.” 

And that was it! 

At the end of January, we bought it. But before we could take the truck out for a spin, there was a lot of work to be done. First order of business was removing WBIRs logos to make way for TruckBeat. Our illustrator, Sam Keenan, helped make our project artwork big enough for the side of the truck.

Then, we headed to north Knoxville’s Jim McMichael Signs and Truck Painting, where expert craftsmen worked their magic.

It took more than a week of design and labor before we could finally take our new truck "home" to WUOTs studios.

TruckBeat photographer Phil Batta captured its maiden voyage out of the paint shop.

Here it is in its new parking spot on campus. 

University staff found us a space in a lot with enough room for TruckBeat to spread out. Thanks, UT!

Look for TruckBeat this spring.

We'll be crisscrossing Knoxville and the region, collecting stories and asking YOU for your thoughts and questions about health and health care in East Tennessee. TruckBeat and WUOT are #FindingAmerica.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find out where we'll be going next! 

Jess Mador

Jess Mador is the creator of TruckBeat for WUOT. She's an award-winning public radio and multimedia journalist who has produced stories for news organizations around the country, including Minnesota Public Radio, NPR News and PBS member stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Phil Batta

Phil Batta is an award-winning cinematographer and director who specializes in creating short-form documentaries and visually rich multiplatform media for social impact. His work appears on PBS, The New Yorker, UK Channel 4, ITN, The Guardian, ABC7, CNN and ITVS. He's also shot and edited projects honored as official selections at international film festivals and exhibitions. Batta is currently directing two documentaries exploring youth social justice and gender equality. 

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