Friday, April 29, 2005


It's Big and it's a it must be THE BIG LINK!!!

This week it's a blogsite that I haven't had the pleasure to come across in the past, but I am looking forward to digging into.

His last post says he's gone to Charleston(wish I was) but dig in and check his blog out because like I said, it

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Surviving a Train Wreck

Jeff VarnerWhen our newest Anchorman slash Reporter Dude and former Survivor Contestent Jeff Varner was on Rock 92's Two Guys named Chris morning show last week he described the experience of anchoring for the first time on the weekend news as a train wreck.

So it's appropriate that his first outing on a Spot News run was a train wreck. Literally.

I met Jeff at the door of the station promptly at 9:30 and we packed our rations... Imean gear... into a live truck and we set out on a journey that would take us across the outback... I mean Davidson County.

We arrived in Spencer, NC, aka; the train capital of the world to the sight of 7 remaining overturned or otherwise displaced freight cars. I quickly sat out to get the most video I could in the shortest time possible. Jeff began the search for immunity...I mean, official sound.

Train Wreck5We worked quickly, finding a couple of people gawking at the train wreck, including an Amtrack Volunteer who wandered to the area after Amtrak cancelled it's routes due to the track closure. And there was this adorable little boy who was full of train facts and figures. He said he's seen train wrecks a million times, but only on TV.

We were the lead live shot for the Noon News. This was Jeff's first live shot since joining our tribe and it was outstanding. We pulled together a 40 second package using the Amtrak guy and the kid nestled with video of train workers on another live long day.

Train Wreck4After the noon shot and a quick lunch with our great Sat Truck operator, Danny Spillane, we headed to the Salisbury Amtrak station. We were hoping to flesh out some kind of sidebar to push the story into the 5 and 6 o'clock news.

Finding the lady who took the bus from Raleigh to Salisbury after riding the train from Orlando was a stroke of luck. She was a great interview for our story. But when the district manager of the NC Amtrak Depots showed up we were we received instant immunity. And he was a great interview too!!!

Train Wreck3 It wasn't too long before we were back at camp...I mean, the site of the derailment. We shot a couple of teases and then hacked out a 1-minute story for 5 and a 1-minute 19-second story for 6. We were live for both shows. Jeff performed these, his #2 and #3 live shots in his new employment, with the grace and poise of a seasoned professional.

I was almost disappointed that our day was done. Like I'd been voted off an island or something. Or maybe we were the winners.

Where's my million bucks?

One thing's for sure, take a survivor to a train wreck and you are bound to have an interesting time.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Meetup - 4-20-05

I went to the Piedmont Triad Weblog Meetup on Wednesday, April 20th, and I popped off a few still shots and a bit of video as well.

Push Play in box to play video or CLICK HERE

I didn't take any pix until after dark but there were still 12 or so people standing around chatting. I think at the peak there may have been 25 bloggers in attendence.
Wide Group 4 20

Tara Sue kept the conversation going.
Tara Sue

Stewart 'Lenslinger' Pittman made his rounds. Here he is discussing life and things with Billy the 'Blogging Poet'.
Stewart and Billy Poet

Roch Smith Junior of Greensboro 101

I thought I had met Billy Bob Thornton. Just kidding, but he does bear a striking resemblance. This is Jay Ovittore.....
Billy Bob Clone

Friday, April 22, 2005

Slow Days

Even though being a TV Photog can be a blazing fast, action packed, travel filled, non-stop adventure that can leave you out of breath, beat down and miseralbly tired, there are days (VERY RARE DAYS) when the name of the game is hurry up and wait...and wait....and wait.

One recent day for example (YESTERDAY) I found myself in a cemetary with my distinguished female colleauge Caron Myers. We were summoned to this city of the dead at the request of an eagle eye viewer who had found discarded headstones that she thought were wrongly disposed of.

We went to the end of a gravel trail where we found pile after pile of used and discarded headstones that seemed eerily out of place. We waited there for a lady to arrive who's last name was on one of the stones. As we waited for her to arrive 10 minutes became and hour became nearly two. And as I waited in the front seat of my news unit I napped. Listening to the birds sing and the wind blow made my eyes become heavy and I sawed some logs.

sleepyThe woman who we had only talked to by phone never showed up, and when we were finally able to get in touch with a representative of the cemetary, they were quickly able to quash our little story. The headstones were dicards allright, but most of them were old displays from an old monument company. Even though they were even fully engraved with birth and death dates they were fakes, just for sales purpopes. That is apparantly a commom practice. The headstone of the lady we never met was discarded because a vault truck delivering a neighboring cript for a fresh burial had knocked over her headstone. The vault company replace the stone and the cemetary gets to crush the old one for gravel. That's the protocol for all discarded headstones. They become road gravel and fill for the cemetary.

So at nearly 2 o'clock we had to find another story. We are dispatched to Alamance C0unty. We had a nearly hour drive in front of us for a story about a high schooler who wasn't being allowed to go to the prom because he had a run in with the law several years back. It didn't matter to the principal that he had repaid his debt to society, he was on the NO list for the prom.

But this story quickly died when the boy told his mom and the eager NAACP representitive that he'd rather not put himself in that spotlight.

On to story number three. Luckily, it too was in Alamance county. By now it was 3 o'clock. We headed to a courtroom for the highly publicized April Greer murder trial for what was to be the last day of jury selection ironically on the 2 year anniversary of the discovery of her body.

While my reporter went into the courtroom to hear the proceedings I stayed in the truck and read the local newspaper and napped....Again. The excitement of the local paper and the afternoon sun must have been too much for me to take. This sitting still for too long stuff isn't for me.

Not too long into this afternoon powernap we had to swap into a live truck, send back a reporter track to be paired up with some file video of the 2 year old murder scene and then I actually had to get off my duff and shoot a live shot at 6.

I got home at 7:30. What a day. Good thing I got those naps in. Good things these kind of days are rare.

A Sportscaster's Blog

WFMY's Greg Kerr has jumped on to the blogosphere, albeit with a simple hello.

We'll be standing by for more Greg.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Appalachian Trail

I love the outdoors and I love to camp, so when my son transitioned from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts last month and they told us that the next planned trip for the Boys was a Backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail I was all in. I spent a ton of money getting the required gear for the trip and I borrowed the rest.

ApTrail going in

We hit the trial at Spivey Gap near Erwin Tennesse around 1:30 Saturday afternoon. As you can see on the following picture, we are at 3252 feet above sea level, it is 4.7 miles to our campsite which is at 5000 some odd feet. The total trip to the Nolichucky River will be 11 miles.

ApTrail the begining

While I carried about a 30 pound backpack my son Davey here had a nearly 20 pount sack himself. Other than blistered heals from less than perfect boots he didn't complain about that one time.

ApTrail Davey

See that mountain sticking up there in the middle? That's about where camp is. Only 4 miles to go.

ApTrail destination

Borrowed backpack and tent loaded with all the goodies I picked up for the trip I made my way up the trail along with 11 other adults and 17 Boy Scouts.

ApTrail me

Once at the top we pitched our tents and it was time for supper. Military MRE's were the night's meals.

ApTrail camp at 5500

The scenery from the top was nothing short of spectacular. This was just one of many breathtaking views.

ApTrail up high

Sunday morning and it's time to make the trek down the mountain.

"How far do we have to go?", must have been my son's thought at this instance.

ApTrail how far

This was the view after hiking for two hours toward our destination. See that bridge crossing the river in the lower central part of the picture? That's where we are going.

ApTrail the bridge

So we kept going and going and going. We kept getting passed by the Thru-Hikers who were on their trek from Georgia to Maine, hiking the whole trail start to finish. Thats more than 2,000 miles. They were going to be on the trail for 6 months.

It took is from 9:30 am until about 12:40pm to make it the 5-point-something miles to the bottom.

ApTrail following

But the views on the way down made it well worth it. This is about 1500 feet above the Nolichucky River.

ApTrail don't look down

The trail to the bottom followed the ridge of this mountain from the right side of the picture to the left, going down all the way to the bottom.

ApTrail Mountain

The End!!! Davey and I and the other 27 hikers made it to the bottom. It wasn't easy and as far as I am concerned this may have been the toughest campout that Davey will have to do for Scouts short of repeating it for a longer duration.

ApTrail The End 2

The trip home was quiet.

ApTrail Sleepy

This was a great trip. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Anyone up for a trip to the trail this weekend?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The TV Afterlife

What do these names have in common....

Doug Allred
Tracy Grazier
Stephanie Bourland
Lachelle Yates
Vernon Fraley
Ricky Killian
John Hagerty
Kim Carpenter
Dan Loggins
Jayla Anderson
Ben Salt
Shannon Koontz
Hoyle Koontz
Amy Selby
Lynn Moorehouse
Deb Proehl
Carol Andrews

The common link with all of these people is that they have worked at Television stations in the triad, but are not currently (to my knowledge) working for a Television Station. The people on this list have worked at WGHP, WFMY, WXLV and WXII. Some of them have worked at more than one of the TV Stations.

Today I ran into one of the people on that list. The former 2 wants to know investigative reporter from WFMY Lechelle Yates is now in charge of Public Relations at the High Point Museum.

She had worked at TV stations in New Mexico, Kansas and Indiana before coming to North Carolina to work at WFMY for 6 years. But now with the PR job, she is doing what many TV people do when they are done reading, writing and relaying information to the masses.

It seems to be the natural transition, and it usually involves better money, better hours, and better benefits. And us TV types are the perfect fit for the job. We are used to dealing with all kinds of different people. We already know most of the media in the area. And we have some knowledge of disseminating information, so we could probably handle putting together a press release or two.

Of the other people on my list above;

Doug Allred the head of the PR department at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro.

Tracy Grazier is with the PR department at Alamance Regional Medical Center.

Stephanie Bourland is working in that big new building that houses the call center for Citicard.

Vernon Fraley left WFMY to go to work for the Guilford County Sheriff as a PR specialist, but is now back in the news as an Anchorman on Timewarner's News 14.

Ricky Killian was a long time Photojournalist in Davidson County for WXII and WFMY. He is now employed with the Davidson County Sheriff's Department as a Crime Scene Investigator. He was hired by former Sheriff Gerald Hege to be a video specialists for the sheriff's department. The sheriff used seized drug money to buy a video camera and editing equipment so they could create training videos and document the large drug and money seizures that were taking place on I-85. When Hege's reign as sheriff fell, Ricky quickly crossed trained into a viable and valuable posistion within the department.

John Hagerty is an Emmy Nominated and Associated Press Award winning reporter who I worked with at WGHP. We had good times together, going to cover flooding after Hurricane Floyd, and getting the Emmy nomiation and AP Award for a feature about a little boy who had a rare skin disease. John is now in the PR department for the Virginia Lottery.

Kim Carpenter was an Anchor/ Reporter for WGHP. After she left WGHP she held a position with a local gym.

Dan Loggins was a weatherman on WGHP in the late 90s. He has an insurance office in High Point.

Jayla Anderson was an Anchor Reporter who was at WFMY. I am told that she is in Chicago doing Public Relations.

Ben Salt was at WXII for many years as an Anchor and Reporter. He left WXII to go to work for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. Their website lists him as the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications.

Shannon Koontz was a producer at WXLV the first time it did news. She is now working in the PR department at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Hoyle Koontz is Shannon's husband. He was a photojournalist at WXLV, but Shannon tells me he now has a successfull business called technipix producing 360 degree interactive images for websites.

Amy Selby was a reporter that I worked with in Davidson County at WGHP from 1999 to 2001. She followed her husband's career to Atlanta and now back to West Virginia. She is currently a stay at home mom with two beautiful children and no plans to get back into the TV business.

Lynn Moorehouse is another stay at home mom who left TV to follow her husband. She was an anchor at WGHP for several years but moved to Fayetteville to be closer to her husband who worked there even while she was on TV in the Triad.

Deb Proehl is the famous Big Sister to the Carolina Panther's Reciever Ricky Proehl...or is it the other way around? Deb left WGHP as an anchor reporter to sell real estate but she can currently be seen popping up from time to time on WXII doing health bits.

Carol Andrews was a long time co-anchor on the WGHP FOX 8, 5,6 and 10 o'clock news, but left several years ago to stay at home an take care of her son. She has also published a book, 'The Giggle Wind'.

And the list could go on and on. It seems like every PR person I deal with has some kind of TV background. That's a good thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

If you don't have anything kind to say....

You know the old saying.... 'If you don't have anything Kind to say, don't say anything at all.'

But some people just can't help themselves when talking about us vultures, I mean, the media.

Today it was a mail carrier in Archdale. She didn't like the fact that I was getting video in front of a house where a man lived who, just hours earlier, had been killed by the police after a traffic stop and confrontation.

Let me give you some back story....

David Scott Ridge was stopped by the Randleman Police Department a little before midnight on Wednesday. Something must have agravated him, because according to the police department he came after the officer that stopped him and then also the officer that responded as a backup.

Ridge allegedly pulled a large knife, described as 'like a sword', on the two officers. Unable to calm or stop the large, angry man, they shot and killed him.

I got the call to respond to this Randolph County Scene around 5 am this morning. I did a Live Phone Report for the morning news and sent pictures from a picture phone to be used until Lenslinger arrived with the live truck and our esteemed morning reporter, Shannon Smith.

The morning actually flew by and before I knew it we had gathered great interviews with resident's of the quaint little loop road where the traffic stop turned tragic. Minutes before the noon news we wrapped up an interview with the once reluctant Acting Police Chief. He provided all the details of the morning mishap and in what seemed like a flash we were finished with the noon live shot and headed back to High Point.

But on the way back to the TV Station we played a hunch and stopped by the deceased's house and found some friendly neighbors that gave a glowing review of the 40 year old disabled father of two.

They were shocked and saddened that this heavy set man that walked with cane could find himself dead of such actions, but they were very happy to oblige us with a few soundbites.

It was about this time, while I was getting the obligatory exterior shots of Mr. Ridge's home that I saw the mail lady coming up the road again. She had been there ten minutes earlier, but had pulled a U-turn out of the neigborhood. I backed the camera across the street for a wide shot of the mail truck delivering the deceased his mail. After popping his mail in the box she pulled forward, put the eagle emblazened jeep in park and stepped out and proceeded to let me have it.

"This is pitiful. Why cant' you people just let these people grieve?" she said in a harsh and critical undertone.

She went on for a few more sentences and I just stood there with a probable blank look across my face, while my camera continued to roll on the wide shot of her tyrade. I only responded with a quiet, "Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I am just doing my job."

Her two short sentences seemed like five minutes of harsh persecution, but I am used to it. Spend enough time following scanner calls of bullets and bodies and someone's bound to be offended.

But the fact is, people use communication as counseling. People naturally want to talk about tragic events to get it off their chest and off their conscience. It may not always be the family of the deceased that wants to do the talking. Sometimes it's the neighbors or a friend or a co-worker or even a postal worker with a load of other baggage, but there is ALWAYS someone to be found that can articulate the nuts and bolts of a soul departed.

Those utterances of a lost life are always KIND. Isn't that the way it should be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


They are the greatest fans in the world. Each and every week they cheer on their favorite of 43 of the best stock car drivers in the world. NASCAR Fans are the most loyal and dedicated sports fans you will find.

But twice every NASCAR season there is a show of loyalty that is unmatched. One of those times was this past Sunday after the race in Martinsville, Virginia.

When the multicolored big rigs that haul the 800 horsepower beasts of sheet metal leave Martinsville, most of them are headed back to their raceshops near Charlotte.

The route back to Charlotte starts on Highway 220 just in front of the track and picks up Highway 68 in Guilford County and then takes a right hander on Highway 158 through Forsyth County.

All along that route fans park and wave and hoot and holler at their favorite driver's hauler as it passes them by.

I have seen this show of support everytime I have been to the Martinsville races. This time however I decided to make it a story for later in the week.

I took the turn down 158 into Forsyth County where the most loyal fans seem to come out in numbers. I begain my search for a large group that would set the bar for unique and excess loyalty.

At the northern tip of the little community of Walkertown I saw just what I was looking for. A group of about 100 people gathered on a front lawn, waving and hollering and very jubilant.

I stopped my news unit across the street, much to the delight of the group of raving race fans and began the search for perfect soundbytes and video of the rolling billboards that would soon come flashing by.

"Here comes a truck", cried a woman in a Jeff Gordon shirt, hoping for a goody like a hat or a bag of candy to be tossed from the moving garage.

"Truck, Truck, Truck," shouted voices from the crowd, all while pumping their arms in the air, as the 70 foot rig roared past with it's air horns blaring.


And occasionally they get a glimpse of the NASCAR drivers. Before I arrived at the event, driver Robby Gordon rolled down the window on his SUV and said hello to the crowd while waiting for the stoplight to change.

I soon learned that this bi-annual get together is akin to a family reunion for these folks. The youngest in attentence, a cute little 3 year old who doesn't know yet that she likes Kevin Harvick in spite of the fact that her shirt says she does. The oldest relative watching all the action was pushing 80, and she can remember the days before there was such a thing as NASCAR.

Long after the drivers completed their 500 laps, and Jeff Gordon took the victory, the remaining trucks continued to pass and the sun sunk toward the horizon. The group thinned out a little as farewells were bid. At least until October. That's when they race at Martinsville again.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Ultimate Assignment

Ask any photojournalist and you will find out that the dream assignment is any assignment that involves boarding an airplane and traveling anywhere, especially if that anywhere is halfway around the world.

"...this is exactly why I love what I do."

A proud member of the Photograblogosphere(as Lenslinger has so aptly dubbed us) from LosAngeles named Bryan Frank is documenting his current travel assignment.

"The hours are long and we're only getting one good meal a day. That's the bad side. The good side is that the one meal has been some of the best food I've ever eaten."

He is in Rome covering the death of Pope John Paul II. And even though it's a funeral it's the chance of a lifetime for those assigned to cover it.

"Just know that I'm working my ass off, getting hardly any sleep,
drinking Peroni beer and having a great time. . .for a

Read more from BFrank's adventure's while in Rome at