CNBC's Schacknow: Doing Live TV--Even For A Groundhog

Catching The Groundhog: It’s a relatively slow day on the breaking news desk. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have stories of great gravity to pass along, thanks to the annual appearance of Punxsutawney Phil. OK, he’s a groundhog who doesn’t move markets (except perhaps hog futures) but his appearance gives me the chance to highlight how simple television is. And sometimes isn’t.

This morning, the famed groundhog came out to give us his annual prediction of when spring would occur. It’s a cute event with a tradition. It makes everyone laugh. And it’s fun. (Not to mention an opportunity for “Squawk Box” anchor Joe Kernen to dust off his fine Bill Murray imitation). And to have live pictures: priceless!

To make any live shot or remote guest appearance work, several pieces have to fall in place perfectly. They are:

1) A camera at the event

2) A feed, usually via satellite

3) The receipt of the signal at our end with sufficient audio and video quality

4) The event must actually occur, or the guest must show up

5) It’s a live event not controlled by us, we have to NOT be in a commercial when it occurs.

Simple stuff, yet you’d be surprised how often one or more of those five things does NOT happen. It’s why sometimes guests who have been “teased” don’t appear, or come on later than scheduled. I’m sure you’ve seen interviews or live events where the signal suddenly disappeared, or where we came back from commercial a tad too late.

We’ve had guests who forgot to show up. We’ve had guests show up and found the remote studio unstaffed - or locked.

Thankfully, the stars were all aligned this morning. We had a good signal, and we came out of commercial just in time to hear the mayor of Punxsutawney, PA, declare that Phil hadn’t seen his shadow, and spring was just around the corner. Happy endings for all!