While we are all accustomed to the friendly faces and warm interviews presented on Lowcountry Live, they, like so many other businesses, had to transform when COVID struck. Zoom became the new version of “live,” and hosts Erin Kienzle and Tom Crawford set up in-home studios, with Kienzle’s home showing a bright, crisp space and Crawford’s office wall decor reminding us of his impressive military service during every episode. For two incredibly affable hosts who enjoy connecting with their guests, this had to be a jarring change of pace.
I caught up with Kienzle recently to discuss the long-awaited return to live television, which occurred on September 8. Prior to the virus, Lowcountry Live hosted between six and seven segments per day. Now, the show has been reduced to four live segments, and each segment can only have one guest, who remains masked until they are seated in the studio. Live interviews are spaced out, with a taped interview to allow the crew ample time to clean in between guests.
They have also implemented protocols in line with CDC guidelines to ensure staff and guest safety. Kienzle remarked, “Our interview set has been spaced to six feet apart to allow for social distancing. We also no longer use clip-on lavalier mics for our guests. It is now touchless, where they can speak into a mic on a stand. Guests have procedures to follow too and must go through a screening that includes, among other things, a temperature check prior to entering the building.”
In trying to gauge whether guests seemed concerned or fearful about a return to a live studio setting, Kienzle said they haven’t received any pushback. “Guests are eager to return to the studio, but we want people to feel comfortable, so we still offer interviews via Zoom after the show. We are taping those and then airing them at a later date,” she explained.
While fans continued to enjoy the revised format show these past several months, they are glad to see the return to live TV, with its easy-going interview style, community-based content and the inviting nature of the two hosts, both of whom are excited to be back at the studio. “We kept Lowcountry Live running during quarantine over Zoom, but it’s not the same. We love seeing our guests in person, and it’s so much easier to interview a person face-to-face. We love helping our guests promote their businesses and events to our community,” Kienzle said.
When asked if she had any concerns about returning to the studio, Kienzle replied, “No matter where you go right now, there’s always a fear of getting sick. However, we have taken all the recommended precautions and are following the CDC guidelines. I feel safe and comfortable back in the studio.”
I think I speak for all of us in saying we are happy to see you both back at your home away from home.
Lowcountry Live airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on ABC News 4 Charleston (WCIV).