Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dream Job

Anything can happen on live TV, so it's no surprise when something does go awry in the middle of one of our daily Live Reports.

But these days with my handy dandy XDCam, I can be ready for the unexpected. This state of the art camera has a built in Cashe or RAM Buffer which is sort of like TIVO or DVR. When the Cashe is active it's always recording. It stores a 12 second loop of video in the internal memory and if anything happens in view of the lens, I can punch the record button to save that 12 seconds and begin recording live video. This makes the camera a photogs DREAM.

It is, however, with great regret and a slight grin, that I didn't have my high tech toy with me this morning when the Live Shot I was doing went south.

I don't really know where my camera was. As a matter of fact the camera I was using was a very cheap, almost handycam version of a broadcast apparatus that I had never ever even laid eyes on.

The shot was a routine live shot on a courthouse square in a small town. Could have been just about anytown in the south. As our time slot for the live insert approached, I was busy tweaking technical matters, but the sound of tires squealing and engines revving caught my ear, and I knew I wasn't in an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard.


Shots rang out just as I caught the glimpse of a fast moving sedan, circa 1975. It was dark and low, and the barrell of the shotgun poking out the side window said to me, "Chris you better run!"

It was every photographers worst nightmare and probably dreamed by every lens toting journeyman too. I listened to the side window shooting iron and took off in a sprint....toward my borrowed camera. I grabbed my piece and ran for cover.

I knew I'd be the hero if I could get the money shot. Video of a drive by in a small town at a courthouse...Now that would go National!!!

I worked my way around the backside of the large historic building hoping to get set for the speeding villans as they rounded the square. I found cover and steadied the camera on my shoulder the best I could just in time to see the sideways sliding sedan burn rubber out of town while popping off a few more rounds.


The thunder clap from a BOLT OF LIGHTENING instantanious and close. I was now wide awake from this crazy dream, now trapped in a bearhug from mythe wife.

The earsplitting result of a bolt that must have struck withing feet of my bedroom window had perfect timing to scare my ass out of one hell of a dream.

(Does that mean I didn't get the money shot?!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Proud Dad

I am a Proud Dad, so let me give my kids their due on my blogging bandwith...

If you know me you know that I have 2 boys that are mine and 3 other step children (2 more boys and a girl) I am always proud of all of them in their various activities but some of their most recent accomplishents are fairly noteworthy.

First off let me congratulate my younger stepson and his team, The Hasty Bulldogs, for winning the 2nd - 3rd Grader Ledford Community Basketball Championship. They were undefeated for the season.

This is my oldest son Davey.

He isn't the fastest or the tallest and he hasn't scored hardly any points all season, but he has a lot of heart. He is extremely lucky to be on a great team with several very talented teamates and an extraordinary coach and assistants.

Together this diverse group of guys came within 3 points of the perfect season. They lost the Davidson County Championship Game by just 3 points in the closing seconds of the game. But the season continues as they now get to play against top teams in the district tounament.

So far to district games and two wins. (For the record these are 'Pool Games' which, I think, is a way of setting the bracket for the district tournament. Even the losers get to continue after the first three games.)

It's form like this from Landon Lassiter, #2,1 that is really what carries the team. His uncanny abliitly to drive the lane and make the bucket or draw the foul can really spark the team to life. In a recent game they found themself in a 15 point hole and Landon's efforts with the ball promptly sparked new life into the team. They crawled out of the hole and took the lead in only 1:30 of play.

And my boy Davey, #25 above, has gotten a bit more playing time in these now longer games, and I see improvement everytime he handles the ball, but he still hasn't scored points in the post season, although he had a great steal and fast break in tonights game, until the 6 foot tall boy on the other team politely rejected his layup.
On the same day of the County Championship game this past Saturday, my younger son Jeremy had a competition of his own to attend. He had to run his Pinewood Derby Car.

We spent a lot of quality time sawing the pineblock and perfecting the cut of the car.

The competition from the other boys in his den was fierce, with cars as diverse as each first grader in the group.

Jeremy's car won first place among the Tiger Cubs and third place in the Pack.

Now he gets to go to the District Pinewood Derby Race.

I love being a Dad!

Next time....back to the grind of News. (on the fourth day of spring!!!)

Thursday, March 17, 2005


For Television newsrooms across the nation the daily objective is to get as much of a competitive advantage over the competition as possible.

In it's most basic form that equates to outthinking our fellow news crew and getting elements to the story that are different and valuable to the viewers.

But in certain situations the competition is thrown out the window, well, sort of.

Today was the funeral of the US Customs and Immigrations Special Agent David Wilhelm who was killed at his house this past weekend by the man who had escaped from the Courthouse in Atlanta by killing a baliff, a judge and a court reporter.

At the Funeral, competing news stations have to work together to get the story, making the most of a potentially difficult situation while being as respectful.

The coverage inside of the chapel and at the graveside could only be videotaped by one camera...the POOL camera. That camera has to share all of the footage with all of the other TV crews that are at the event.

The pool camera makes the coverage by the media a lot less intrusive and allows everyone the same advantages and disadvantages. It relaxes the stress of competing to get a better angle.

Todays coverage of the Wilheim Funeral was a great success. Not only for the media, but for the family of the fallen officer, the law enforcement officials who attended the funeral and all of the viewers of all of the stations that broadcast the event.

Don't get me wrong there is still an element of competion involved in the process. There were probably 9 TV stations represented at the Funeral and everyone had the same footage to use with the exception of distant shots of the procession, friends and family arriving and leaving the chapel and interviews with those people IF they crossed to our side of the street. But there were definatley 9 different presentations of the event. Each crew using the unique elements and experience to make their story the best.

It was mine.

Seriously, Kudos to everyone at the funeral today...

WBTV for running the pool camera and facilitating the dubbing process...

WAGA for the Satelite air time for the Noon Live shot...

WAGA for providing transportation to lunch while our Livetrucks were gridlocked...

WSB for showing us their cool ass Sprinter Sat/Live Truck...

The PR lady at Catawba College for getting us parked and bringing us coffee and Homeland Security for letting us be at the event and providing us a bit of file footage of Agent Wilhelm.

Good Job Everyone. I think David Wilhelm would be proud.

Change of Season

With Spring now just less than 55 hours away I have officially put my yard into pre-season training.

With temperatures on Saturday and Sunday surpassing 70 degrees I was able to spend time cleaning up a winter's mess and preparing for the change of season.

I dethatched, spread fertilizer and dropped 50 pounds of Wal-Mart's finest Kentucky 31. By the time dark fell it was raining and the green yard gods have smiled nicely on my brown winters death ever since, soaking the seed to the roots that should be able to quickly establish.

But Thursday morning I woke up to two words that a News Man waiting for Spring dreads to hear. "It's Snowing!"
Schools closed and cars wrecked and the green grass of Saint Patty's day was almost fully covered by the white cloak of winter.

Who said we wouldn't get any snow this winter in the Triad. Too bad it was gone by noon.

Fugitive in the Triad

I got up a little early today to go to downtown Thomasville to make a quick bill paying stop only to quickly get accused of being a fugitive.

I had parked on Main Street in front of The Big Chair in my News Car writing the monthly big check when a couple of people walked up and one of them gave me a big stare. This isn't unusual, being in a marked News Vehicle but when I exited my SUV one of the guys said he had a question for me.

"Are you the 1075 KZL $20,000 Fugitive?", was his query.

"HUH?!", was my puzzled response.

He asked a second time, and for a second time I said, "HUH?!", and added, "No, I don't believe I am.", really begining to wonder what kind of perverted time warp I had just stepped through. No one has accused me of being a fugitive since my high school days with my rough-neck, redneck friends.

When I got back on the road the strange query lingered in my mind, so I had to change my radio from the naughty nitwits, Chris and Chris, to the nuclear nincompoop Murphy in the Morning.

It didn't take long for me to figure out their heavily promoted new contest was the root of the crazy quiz.

The radio station has simulated a theft of $20,000 from a station employee and now any station listener that can ID the thief will collect the 20k as a bounty. 4 clues a day are helping the listeners figure out who and where the 'villan' might be and a disscussion board on the station website is bustling with posts and responses.

Listeners describing themselves with such screen names as Fugitive Tracker, Capfug and FugitiveFanatic. The latter is a highly determined 'bounty hunter' as one of his posts to the disscussion board explains....

Hey, if you really want $20,000 you should be willing to make some sacrafices. I drove all the way from Walkertown to Thomasville (about a 30-45 min drive) and was there, outside in the rain, for 4 hours and didn't find the fugitive. I'll do you one even better I took a day off of work to hunt for the fugitive. I work in Wilkesboro which is an hour and half one way for me. So fill up your tank and come on down to the triad area or your $20,000 may be filling up fugitive's pocket for another day longer! Good Luck!

Even the fugitive is making posts on the board, albeit under two different screen names. (HMM???)

So now I think I may be hooked on the contest, trying to take the 12 clues that exist and decipher who the perp might be. It's my job after all, to take a bunch of information and try to make sense of it all.

And what a great marketing scheme to create a buzz about the listening area and using the internet discussion forum to gauge reaction. My hats off to the creator of this one.

For now all I know for sure is that I am not the '1075 KZL $20,000 Fugitive', but I think I want to find out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Notebook

No, not the Novel by Nicholas Sparks or the Movie based on the book. The Notebook is a little composition book that I carry in my back pocket. But I can't claim the idea for the pocket sized memory bank as my own.

Stewart 'Lenslinger' Pittman introduced me to the idea of the little notebook through his musings and in person.
He would often tell me about his little black composition book and one day we talked about it more in depth so I bought one for myself.

This little 4.5x3.5 inch notebook fits really nicely in even the smallest back pocket and it only set me back 50 cent or so. I opted for the little BLUE version.

I had always tried to carry a reporter notebook to take my notes on, write personal thoughts in and keep track of numbers in, but inevitably I would misplace the bulky spiral bound beast that really never fit nicely on my rear and isn't really practical to carry most places.

I found having the little notebook very easy to keep up with and the pages soon filled like a daily journal crossed with a scratch pad for random thoughts while standing next to my camera.

So it was much to my dismay last night when my wife asked me a question from the laundry closet while tossing to me a shread of white papers with a freshly washed and dried look.

I was in denial at first....but then I saw the little blue cover. Oh NO!!!

It figures. I can't keep up with anything expecially if it has a chance to land in the Washer. I must have left it in my pants pocket after my day on Friday, which, even though it started out with a great view of Pilot Mountain, was so crazy I can't even bring myself to put it into words...YET!

I guess I will have to go back to ****Mart and spend another 50 cent. (And try to decipher much of the notes from The Notebook #1 as possible.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Coming Together

Law Enforcement Agents from the Southeast came together in a show of solidarity for their fallen brother, Special Agent David Wilhelm. Wilhelm was shot and killed by the Nichols guy who escaped from the courthouse in Atlanta.

Today the body of the slain officer was escorted home to Salisbury, North Carolina by more than 200 squad cars, 3 News helicopters and Live Coverage by the Cable Networks.

The traffic stopping buzz around town combined with the contigent of us local media on the ground had the folks in Salisbury wondering if the President was coming through.

What is was, was 2 hectic hours of intense News Gathering. It was 4 o'clock when the procession arrived in Rowan County from Atlanta.

With just 2 interviews on tape, we found ourselves in a situation that everyone here faced.

We had to work quick to make anything happen for 5.

And then also for 6.

Crews from all the stations stayed busy gathering their own elements, tweaking and calling in the perfect scripts.

We all had to be ready to go live, each using our own distinctive signature style to tell the story.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Saw My Shadow

I saw my shadow today and I realized that in about 10 days, winter will be done.

And that sucks, because here in the Triad of North Carolina we haven't seen much in the way of Winter Weather meaning scenes like these 5 pictures from winters past won't reside on my hard drive for 04-05.

Sure we had a record cold snap and yes we had a some flurries here and there, but only once did any ice really dust the ground really good. And even then the roads were fine.

To see any road covered with snow for any length of time this winter I would have had to go to the Virginia line at least. That's unacceptable.

I don't consider it a good winter unless my driving skills are tested by an ice packed road as I traverse the Coverage Area in search of drivers not quite up to my level of Icy Driving Expertise.

But hey, I've still got a week!