Editors Note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Stuck in the Trenches

It was a pretty typical day on the news-front, an early marathon shift devoid of any real intrigue. But since there’s nothing else to blog about, I thought I’d share a few of the ugly details. Hey, no one‘s forcing you to read this tripe…

When the alarm clock on the bedside table erupted into static, I dove toward the infernal device - wondering who in the hell set it for 2:50 am. Somewhere around mid-lunge, I remembered all the TV news I had to produce before sunrise. I landed with a thud - a pathetic, hairy creature wrapped in a heap of covers and alarm clock. Lying there on the floor, I could hear the deadline monkey screeching in the distance. I wanted badly to strangle the imaginary bastard, but I hit the showers instead. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty.

Forty five minutes later, I hovered over a digital timeline, hurling non-linear thunderbolts like Zeus from on high. Sequestered there in my edit suite with a only a few discs and a cup of break-room swill, I stopped time and rearranged the truth until it fit the vocal track pouring from the speakers. What a rush. What drudgery. What time is it? Quarter to five by the time I emerged, a bleary-eyed specter with visions of sit-down interviews and zoo field trips floating in my brain-pan. As much as I wanted to take these images to bed, it was time to really get to work.

“Ya see ANYTHING?”

“Nothin’ but fuzz…”, came the voice in my ear. Cursing under my breath, I flipped a few switches inside the live truck and craned my neck upward. Fifty feet above, the microwave dish twitched with every movement of my finger. Back at the station, an engineer named Daryl watched a screen filled with static. Try as I might, I couldn’t make that static turn to color bars, no matter how many times I rotated the dish, how many times I switched channels, or how many foul words I swallowed. I was about to expel some of that profanity when my far better-dressed partner appeared at my side, her own cell phone jammed in her ear.

“Change of plans! We got spot news in Randleman.”

Twenty minutes and half a honey-bun later, I parked the live truck behind the gauntlet of police cars. As I began flipping toggles and plugging in cables, my reporter Shannon went to get chatty with the SBI. Six hours earlier, a local cop pulled over a motorist who produced a SWORD along with license and registration. What exactly happened next was unclear, but the motorist’s covered body in the middle of the road told me how the encounter ended.

But it wasn’t my job to determine if the shooting was justified or not. No, my job was to erect an electronic rooftop so my on-air partner could shout the news to the Greater Piedmont. Luckily, I had back-up. From the clutch of law-enforcers in the distanced he emerged, a dusty figure with camera, tripod and a last minute ball cap jammed down over a serious case of bed-head. While I set up the truck, Weaver pared down his early-morning footage into a coherent forty second segment - all while providing a running commentary on, of all things, the blogosphere.

Soon after, we joined Shannon by the yellow tape. As a wrecker crew winched the dead motorist’s car on the back of a rollback and the cops gossiped in the name of the law, we three wandering broadcasters huddled by the tripods and went live(!) every half hour. In between our remotes, we admired the homemade architecture of a nearby trailer, bemoaned the lack of a roving snack bar and watched the brilliant morning sun break over the billowing crime tape. I could haved stayed and chatted all day, but once the morning show was over we packed up, leaving the residual drama for the dayside crew. There would be no doubt be other scenes of calamity to chew the fat by in the future. For now, though it was time to meet The Blogfather...

1 comment:

Smitty said...

Ugh! I dread the AM shift.. Here it's called Good Morning Kentucky, since it precedes Good Morning America. I feel you pain from past experiences working it on a "fill-in" basis.

Guess Kilduff is off this week, huh?

Enjoyed the post!

And that picture of you and Shannon says a thousand words..

I'm thinking.. "When will this shift be over.. FINALLY?"