Friday, November 07, 2008

Specter at Eleven

Slinger on the SetFake holograms seem to be all the rage in newscasts lately, so last night Weaver and I hooked a few car batteries up to our fancycams and beamed my tired ass into the studio. It was all pretty cool at first - until the floor director got spooked by the weirdly shimmering lenslinger in the corner and tripped the fire alarm sprinkler system. I'll spare you the soggy details, but let's just say I'm not allowed anywhere near that part of the building whenever the ON AIR light is on. That and I gotta somehow reimburse a region full of forecast fans for muckin' up the '3 Degree Guarantee'.

...Okay, so I merely wandered through the set during a show and whipped out my cell-phone cam, but the fact remains I'm still haunting these overlit shrines - nearly two decades since I weaseled my way into my first affiliate nearly two decades ago. You know the story: Young man with a mullet cons his way into local TV station, only to find his special purpose. As parables go it's kind of lame, but it's all I got - so I'm milking it for yet another blog-post. Back then you could smoke in the studio, the teleprompter was a conveyor belt with a hand crank and the floor was so warped the cameras would often roll away under their own power. It was GREAT! Of course it only took a year or so of zooming in on air before I ditched the headphones and began my lifelong pursuit of news. What can I say? I was young and full of wanderlust; certain that I'd achieve nirvana if only I could shoulder one of those manly-cams. Turns out I was only half right and while I don't regret abandoning the set for the rush and squalor of a marked news unit, part of my heart will always reside in the studio.

Then again, I studied under the greats: John Spence, the late great Jim Woods and that vested legend known region-wide as Slim Short. In the beginning I was amazed these household names would even give a shaggy young bon vivant like me the time of day, but that was before I realized they were just glad the latest stagehand kept showing up on time. And did I! Unlike every other career attempt I'd flubbed, running studio-cam on 'Carolina Today' made me feel like somebody. It didn't matter that I was making minimum wage. Nor did it matter that my then-girlfriend had to sit behind the wheel of my dilapidated Toyota and steer while I pushed it down the hill in hopes the damn thing would crank. Carolina Today CameramanMost (early) mornings it did and I'd happily jump in the driver's seat and motor off to what felt like the greatest crappy job in the world. Yes, those were the good ole days and the memories made back then almost made up for the dark times that would follow, when I found myself rolling out a barrell full of contest entries in hopes Marv the Weatherman wouldn't mangle whatever name he'd draw after each evening's five day forecast. Almost.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go towel-dry the weather wall. Seems the water blotches made by the sprinkler system are showing up on the chromakey and sparking a run on umbrellas across the greater Piedmont Googaplex. Like that's MY fault!


Salvage America said...


Anonymous said...

I started in Television in the same way you did, doing weekend mornings! The many days I came in so drunk and hung over that I just decided to sleep on the cold studio's cement floor rather than driving the 5 extra minutes to get home before getting up and actually TARING carbon copy scripts starting at 2:30am.
I thought I had the craziest most honorable job in the world. I thought the bright lights of the studio were shinning on me ask much as the anchors. OH did I know the misadventures and the cynicism that would accompany my growth as a man and a journalist in the years that followed. said...

This is hilarious!

Last week, I participated in the Randolph County Career day. Over 1400 13 year olds in a Y with 40 potential employers.

You that is a recipe for disaster. I was trying my best to repair for the future by dispelling the myths of skilled labor jobs to kids.

In the process of uploading the video, but you have got to see this last second entry made his splash on internet TV stardom.