[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/19/chris.mcelveen.art.jpg caption="Chris takes a break at his seat in the control room during the show."]
Editor's Note: Each Friday in “Meet AM,” we’ll introduce you to the people who get American Morning to air.
Today, we’d like you to meet Chris McElveen. Chris is officially the Wall Associate Producer, but he will always respond to “Wall” or “Vista.” Chris produces the giant Vista – this means he plans out and gets all the elements for the various guests, stories, and other fun things that go in the big projection wall every day. He’s been with AM for four years.
How did you end up at AM?
It all began long ago and far away at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The breakroom coffee was much worse there, and the AM showside staff was much smaller with just four people. In 2006 I moved to New York and joined the illustrious crew we have working on the show today.
How did you end up doing what you do?
I'm not sure. I think someone must've put something in my drink.
Describe your average day:
I begin each day with an enormous cup of black java. It will be the first of many. When I come in at 12:30am I scour the latest wires to catch up on all the news of the day, then I plumb the web for other interesting stories that haven't necessarily made the front page. After that it's a non-stop maelstrom of video, editing, still images, graphics, scripts, and chaos until the end of the show.
The job itself is producing what you see in the huge undulating wall behind John and Kiran. I order video and graphic elements and organize them in the wall in a way that aims to be pleasing to the eye. I work in tandem with an amazing Wall (aka Vista) operator who goes by the name of Doug. He controls all the inputs for the wall and essentially makes the Wall move. We load up the Wall at 4:00am (2 hours before showtime) and begin lining up the elements for the show. When 6am rolls around it's a full-on sprint to the nine o'clock finish line.
What's the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is keeping so many plates spinning simultaneously. This job demands a good deal of multitasking, and sometimes it's hard to keep up. However, that's also one of the most enjoyable aspects too – the frenzy and intensity of it all.
What do you like most about working at AM?
The staff here is amazing. All of my colleagues make the 12:30am start time something to look forward to. So I must say I enjoy my colleagues the most. The free breakfasts are a close second.
What do you do outside of work? What do you do for fun?
Ah, I enjoy doing the typical things. Currently I'm spending time working on my first book, "Behaving Like a Gentleman in the New Millennium."
What else do you think people should know about you?
I follow some of the rules of the Mogwai:
1. Don't expose me to harsh sunlight.
2. Don't feed me after 12 (noon).
I also make it a point to never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city.