Monthly Archives: January 2010

Flurries of truth

It’s a shame this site no longer abuses local TV.  Otherwise, I’d name the parties  below.

Wednesday, Twitter delivered some material from local TV stations about this afternoon’s upcoming “weather event.”  This tweet came from a local TV guy at 3pm:

“I like to get wx report straight from source. @[weatherguy] told me while i was heating lunch he does not expect us to get much snow in atl”

Two minutes later, Twitter and Facebook sent this out from the reporter’s employer:

“Everyone ready for some snow? Forecast models call for 1-2 inches for parts of Central and North GA, but what do you think will really happen? [Our weather guy] will have the latest…”

They seem contradictory, yet both tweets were accurate.  The reporter was giving accurate information straight from the source.  The TV station was trying to be relevant to viewers.

Giving the people what they want

At a time when folks are turning away from local TV altogether, “weather events” remain a time when viewers are geeked up enough to actually view local TV in real time.  TV stations measure which stories are hits on their web sites; the local weather stories are always at the top.

So TV stations will give you weather.  Blame yourselves, viewers of TV news.  Those of us earning paychecks in the industry would like to thank you.

This afternoon’s snow flurries will give reporters an opportunity to shift away from the cold weather stories they’ve had to produce over the last week.  At WXIA, Jerry Carnes has been our stalwart cold weather go-to.  Yesterday, I did a piece about folks who can’t afford to pay their gas bills and heat their homes.  As usual, my goal was to tell the story without ever uttering the word “cold.”

Meantime, consider this:  Ten years ago this month, Atlanta was socked with a terrible ice storm.  It knocked out power in my neighborhood for nearly a week, longer in many others.  It closed schools (of course, so that children could spend quality time in their unheated homes).  It also killed Atlanta’s chance to ever host another Super Bowl.

I had scheduled my son, Bill, to work as a page in the legislature that week.  He was all about it, because it would take him out of school for a day.  But when school closed, he was less enthused.

“What are we gonna do — sit in the unheated house instead?” I reasoned.  We went to the Capitol instead.  Bill executed his duties in casual clothing.  His family read books in the House gallery and stayed warm.  He got his picture taken with two Georgia legends.

Now, that was a weather event.

PS – Red and Black editorial cartoonist Bill Richards has posted his favorite cartoons from ’09.  They’re worth checking out.  And wish the boy a happy birthday today.

"You don't know where that gavel's been!" Bill with Rep. Doug Teper and Speaker Tom Murphy

One man band

Photo by Bill Birdsong, official photographer for Gov. Lester Maddox

Why is this man smiling?

The answer is clear:  He’s about to commit acts of television with his hifalutin’ state-of-the-art TV gear, circa 1967.

This fresh-faced youngster is Dan Keever, ex-WAGA photog turned UGA / Grady College TV guru.  During his career, Keever hauled around everything from a CP-16 film camera to a TK-76 3/4″ tape camera to a Betacam.  But he’s got a soft spot in his heart for this sweet little jewel, which predates the CP-16.

“That’s an Auricon 600 studio film camera.  It weighed 45 pounds – just the body,” Keever writes.  The photo was shot inside the state capitol in Atlanta.  Keever was about to apply his craft with 400 feet of black-and-white magstripe 16mm film.

"Hey Dan!" - At the 1968 Democratic Convention. Photo by WAII/WQXI (now WXIA) reporter Bill Buckner

“The magazine was made to hold 600 ft but we shot 400 ft loads. The empty magazine weighed 15 pounds by itself,” says Keever.

Added up, Keever says the gear weighed 90 pounds.   That doesn’t include the 25 pound tripod.  (Keever says he weighs 145 pounds in the above photo.)

“When I was shooting, the shoulder brace held the camera pretty well.   I preset the audio, and held the light as far away from the camera as I could. (I used to advocate that shooters be outfitted with a third arm.) I tried to use a tripod as much as I could. Reporter Phil Flynn carried it.

“The Auricon ran on AC,  so the power pack hanging from the shoulder had a converter built into it. The batt belt just ran the light and like any battery it lasted until just before you REALLY needed it,”  Keever writes.

Still smiling: Professor Dan Keever

He’s wearing a suit because Keever and Phil Flynn covered the Capitol as a bureau.  Each of them trolled for stories and produced them for air.

“We were also reporters and would have to do our own standup shots. We were a staff of 12 trying to look as big as the 25 person staff of WSB-TV.”  The suits obviously took a beating under that load of gear, and then some.

Writes Keever:  “The batteries also would occasionally leak and cause the clothing to dissolve.”

What Keever calls “blessed relief” came nearly a decade later with the comparatively lightweight CP-16.  But the advent of videotape brought its own horrors:  The Ikegami HL-33.

Writes Keever:   “The camera head, which had a flat bottom that was very uncomfortable, weighed 33 pounds. The backpack that was attached by a heavy multi-conductor cable, contained a large part of the circuitry for the camera and a 25 pound battery and weighed a total of 60 pounds.

“I was right back in the 90 pound portable gear business!”

This is a fragment of a video commemorating Keever’s induction into NATAS’s Silver Circle.  TV professionals are encouraged to critique the work of Keever’s UGA students by visiting dankeever.com. It’s on the blogroll to the right under “UGA student projects.”