It's only about 150 miles up the road to Lynchburg, Virginia so when I heard that Jerry Falwell had passed away yesterday I knew I better be ready to head that way. It wasn't long after that thought passed through my head that I got the call to pack a bag.
Bob Buckley and I met up with our Satellite Truck and our co-workers on the scene just 15 minutes before the start of the 5 o'clock news.
Reporter Leah Beno and photojournalist Brad Ingram had a half hour jump start on us and had a package ready for air at 5 about a local guy changing a marquee to reflect the moment.
To help Brad out while he finished up the edit I jumped in, set up and shot the live shot at 5 for Leah and then for Bob at 5:30.
Bob and I also had extra duties besides just turning stories for our station. We were charged with providing our sister stations across the nation with Live reports at 5, 6 and 10 on Tuesday night. (Our 10 PM Story Tuesday)
After doing live shots until 11:05 (the last one was for WTTG) our plan was for Bob and I to get to the hotel and sleep so we could also do the morning lives for our station and our affiliates.
With wakeup time at 3-30 AM we made the most of getting to bed just before midnight and getting up was just as tough as you might think.
We went on the air at 5AM and did 19 Live Shots right up to 9 AM.
After the morning show we found the man who spent time with Jerry Falwell in his last living Moments. Ronald Godwin had breakfast with Rev. Falwell on Tuesday morning.
For the noon news we did a Live Shot with Godwin's thoughts. (That Story Here)
Leah and Brad worked the dayside part of this gig staying in Lynchburg through at least the 6 and possibly the 10 tonight.
Major Kudos to our two Satellite operators Danny Spillane and Joe McCloskey for making all the things happen that must happen (including getting other sat trucks off our designated satellite at the last minute) for these liveshots to be coordinated for each TV Station down the line. As of 6 O'Clock Wednesday the live shot count was up to more than 30.
And of Course we weren't alone in Lynchburg (well, our local market competition wasn't there...???).
TV Stations from across Virginia filed in one after another and all of the Networks were present and accounted for.
This was the CNN Set up.
The Fox Truck from DC came down.
NBC was set up next to us but there shots were cancelled unexplainably.
CBN made an appearance and we watched some of their coverage. They captured some good elements but it was shot a little sloppy.
I will say that the staff, students, members, mourners and everyone we came across while we gathered all of our video and sound were extremely cordial and inviting. That can be tough under such circumstances.