Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Roy Park School of Broadcasting

Over at, NoJobTog poses a riddle for the practicing camera jockey: Do you believe that the (TV news) market you grew up in has an affect on where you are now? Hmmm….interesting question, NoJobTog - enough to pull from my forecasted doldrums.

Having grown up outside the bustling metropolis of Goldsboro, North Carolina. I feasted on the edges of two TV news markets. To the West, the bustling Raleigh market boasted mid 80’s helicopters and flashy graphics, but to me Capitol City was a world away and I just couldn’t relate to the almost urban feel of the news emanating out of that region known as ‘the Triangle‘. I was far more entranced with the airwaves to the East. A drowsy yet competitive beginners market where the average news reporter still attended college keggers, the Greenville-New Bern-Washington area was and always will be a place to earn your broadcast bones. As a result, the nightly dispatch was downright rollicking; news stories pasted together by rookies with far more enthusiasm than acumen. Towering above this throng of perpetual rookies and former interns, a rat pack of slightly cornpone Cronkite types held fast to the spotlight they‘d helped create back in the fifties. The resulting newscasts were delicious non sequiturs - surreal episodes in which heavy-lidded Masters of Gravitas threw it to horn-rimmed young news nerds whose on-air delivery still crackled with nervousness and puberty. For a budding satirist, it was stimulating viewing - even if I didn’t exactly know why yet.

By the time I’d turned 14, cable television had burst on the scene, draping the nation’s living rooms in bulky, hard-wired cable boxes. Amid this potpourri of new offerings, a monster lurked - in the form of MTV. Nothing short of revolutionary, this 24 hour stream of newly invented music videos provided the soundtrack and shot-sheet of my repeated stabs at adolescence. Pretty soon, I was spiking my hair and flipping my jean jacket collar up, in hopes of channeling just some of the cool my new hero Sting seemed to exude . When that didn’t work out too well, I repaired to my parents’ den and dissected every intoxicating frame of this new age of music video. Lost in this day-glo parade of hammy camera techniques and quick cut editing, my love for the straight and narrow newscast faded into static.

But that interior signal came back loud and clear the day I conned my way into an interview at WNCT. Agog at the very latest in twenty year old broadcast gear, I almost swallowed my gum when the late great Jim Woods strolled by. I don’t remember what I said exactly to the local icon that day and I’m sure he forgot the moment he managed to shake me. (Who can blame him? I was probably the fifth young smart aleck to call him ’Dude’ that day.) Once I’d secured a minimum-wage spot on the morning show crew however, I went about paying my respects to the living legends that still populated that low-budget studio. In return, Jim Woods, John Spence, Slim Short and Roy Hardee served as my vocational professors, teaching me how the daily news machine worked, and explaining why it was so much better before all those gadgets got in the way. Did the TV news market I grew up in have an effect on where I am now? You betcha. Since my salad says at WNCT, I’ve practiced the craft the Masters taught me exclusively in my home state of North Carolina. No doubt I could go elsewhere, but this is after all, the world I know. If I’m carrying on a tradition of dedicated newsgathering in the Old North State, I’m honored - knowing that when I do fall short, it ain’t due to lack of proper training.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes small town TV is good and needed fir every, "Oh I just want to be an anchor types" I remember the old NCT days. Like the day I (a new PA) was sent to a sports shoot in the news van. Damn I thought I was cool, I happened to change all the presets on the photogs car mass e-mail soon followed, "don't alter anything in the car and leave it with gas, upon exit"
I do have to give credit though to those who taught me; Brian Bailey, he truly taught me as well as many of todays aspiring talents, AT THE TIME what this business was all about and many of us still went into it anyway. Thank You Brian! It's been a great ride so far (12 years) and counting....