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Working on the night shift

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A friendly voice late at night
  • "In Focus" series looks at people who are awake and working the night shift
  • Overnight Harlem radio DJ sometimes finds himself dozing off
  • Mother of three works third shift as Manhattan bakery night manager
  • Atlanta crew converts arena from hockey to basketball and back again

Editor's Note: Watch "Nightshift In Focus," a one-hour special hosted by Tom Foreman, at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on CNN.

(CNN) -- Bob "Doctor" Lee is known for his smooth soul and classic R&B during the overnight hours, but working while many of us are sleeping takes its toll.

The Harlem radio DJ says he enjoys carrying his listeners through the night, but sometimes he finds himself dozing off.

"When you're working these types of hours, sometimes you have to get some shut-eye when you can," Lee said. "I go down to the gym to one of those mats, put your head back, next thing you know (laughs) you've picked up a couple minutes of sleep."

He isn't alone. In the next "In Focus" series from CNN's award-winning photojournalists, we're introduced to people who are awake and working the night shift while the rest of us are asleep.

Video: Rink to court while you sleep
Video: Saving furry lives 24/7
Video: Overnight ride with EMS
Video: Mother by day, baker by night
Video: Tough hours, great view
Video: Health risks working nights
Video: Vegas lights through the night
Video: Salesman: 'I'm like a vampire'
  • Jobs and Labor
  • Harlem
  • Manhattan
  • Basketball
  • Hockey

It's a slice of life that many people don't see -- and a different angle on news about jobs and the economy. The on-air and online project also looks at the effect night shift work has on lives, health and families.

Lynette Slaton, a mother of three, has worked third shift for years as the night manager at Amy's Bread in New York. The hours are hard on her and her family, but she is determined to provide a better life for them. Slaton stays up with her children during the day so she can have a hand in raising them.

"When I look at them I want them to have so much, but right now, with the way the economy is and everything, I just feel more secure being able to be with them and not having to put them in a day care setting so young," she said.

Watch Slaton at work as a baker, and as a parent

The series also takes us behind the scenes of Atlanta, Georgia's, Philips Arena, where workers race against the clock overnight to convert the professional sports arena from the home of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers to the NBA's Atlanta Hawks when the teams have back-to-back games.

See how the Philips team turns ice into wood

"The games end at 9:30 at night," said Richard Manley, the arena's assistant manager of conversion. "We're starting at 10 o'clock. We change this building over every night from hockey to basketball to hockey."

"This is what we call the third shift, the night shift," said Barry Henson, the arena's vice president of building and event operations. "When everybody else is asleep, this is when this building can change from one thing to the next."

CNN's Tom Foreman hosts this special series from a virtual environment designed by the graphics team at CNN's Washington Bureau.

Using green screen technology and a combination of 3-D and 2-D animation, Foreman takes us on a tour from coast to coast as we meet people who work the night shift. See more of the "Nightshift In Focus" series:

• Saving furry lives 24/7

• Overnight ride with EMS

Tough hours, great view Video

Vegas lights through the night Video

Health risks working nights Video

Salesman: 'I'm like a vampire' Video