Category Archives: LAF

November’s child

No child of mine, this

It’s a happy coincidence that my new young ‘un was born November 2, resulting in three weeks of downtime during this month’s sweeps.  Tune into 11 Alive during the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond, and you may stumble upon my dazed return to the news biz.  My hiatus started Monday, when Mrs. LAF went into labor and delivered a boy named Clinton early the morning of Election Day.

An actual photo, the origin of Clint’s name, and other musings on my curious adventure into later-in-life paternity is viewable on another blog I started some months ago at the direction of my mother, who remains disappointed that I didn’t become a photographer for National Geographic or a writer for Life.   I’ve kept it under wraps until now.  Click here and be the first to actually visit this site, which I may or may not update indefinitely depending on my level of energy and spare time.

You parents of babies may know something about that.

Either / or

Photo by Joeff Davis, Creative Loafing

About a month ago, a man named Joeff Davis rang my cell phone.  He identified himself as a photographer with Creative Loafing.  “I need to photograph you for our upcoming ‘Best Of’ issue,” said Davis, whose first name is pronounced “johf.”

“Does this mean I’m going to be the ‘best of’ something?” I asked.

“Can’t tell ya that.  Sorry,” was the answer.   “When can I shoot you?”

I figured the editors of that magazine had run out of local blogs, and had defaulted onto this one as a “best of” in Atlanta.  It didn’t make much sense though, given that this blog packed more punch prior to my employment at WXIA, and the Loaf had never acknowledged it then (except in irregular links in the daily “fresh loaf.”)

The “editor’s choice” arguably carries more prestige than the “reader’s choice.”  CL typically does a brief write-up on the “editor” winners, as was the case with this year’s Best Celebrity, Kevin Gillespie’s beard.  The shameless egomaniac in me would have welcomed a glowing graf in the Loaf.

Fast forward to last week, when the “Best Of” issue hit the streets.   Pecanne Log got the writeup for best local blog, again.   The wife found me under “Reader’s Choice:  Best Local TV, Magazine or Newspaper Reporter.”  I got my name in print, plus a photo online, but no writeup.  (Readers’ Choice for Best Blog was a blog I’d never read called The Quick + Dirty Dirty.  It appears to a be a lively, photo-filled blog about the nightlife and shopping exploits of two young Atlanta women.  Congrats to them, Pecanne Log, and Brook.)

In 2004, Mrs. LAF lovingly and shamelessly launched a mini-campaign to get her pals to enter my name in the “Best Local TV or News Reporter” category, and it worked. The Loaf gave me a piece of printed cardboard, suitable for framing.  Mrs. LAF framed it, and hung it alongside her 2000 “Editor’s Choice:  Best Radio DJ” award.

I was amused by the backhanded swipe that the “Best Local TV or News Reporter” award gave to the TV industry.  It was during the time when newspaper folk still had a bit of a superiority complex, generally speaking, vis a vis your TV news goonfolk.  The award clearly suggested that one could be a TV reporter, or a news reporter, but not both.

By 2010, CL had gone into bankruptcy, downsized its still-lively newspaper and generously revised its category title.  By putting newspaper, magazine and TV reporters in the same category, it seems to acknowledge that we’re all equally capable, institutionally-speaking, of covering news.

Mrs. LAF admits to one posting on Facebook encouraging friends to submit “best of” entries to the Loaf this summer.  She included me with Criminal Records, Aurora Coffee and other mainstays.  It was a casual, one-off post, she insists.  She wants me to believe that the people actually rose up and anointed me organically.  I believe her.

I also believe that no campaigning benefited The Quick + Dirty Dirty.   And OJ Simpson is innocent.

Age before beauty

164 years of awesome - photo by Ryan Young on Spink's equipment

  • From left: Alan Hand started at CBS in Atlanta in 1981, then switched to WSB;
  • John Spink started at the AJC in 1984;
  • Doug Richards started at WAGA in 1986, then upgraded to WXIA;
  • Richard Crabbe started at WXIA in 1980;
  • Bruce Mason started at WXIA in 1982;
  • Dave Darling started at WSB in 1981.

The combined experience of the News Professionals in this photo would date back to the James K. Polk administration, if one could legitimately combine such data into such an absurd and historically irrelevant conclusion. One could do that, particularly when one writes a blog that lacks the moderating influence of a sensible editor. In this case, I’ll renounce it myself.

More accurately, all these knuckleheads News Professionals managed to get themselves hired in Atlanta news during the Reagan administration (Crabbe, during the final year of Carter) and somehow managed to never leave. No wonder all those kids beating at the door to experience the Great Adventure of somewhat-large market news can’t get a foot in. These damned old guys won’t open a slot for them. Now you know who to blame.

Another old guy: J.K. Polk

Old guys (and gals) have their advantages. We’ve already successfully hurdled the “jaded and dispirited” phase of our careers, a phase that vexes many of the thirty-somethings who enter midlife asking “you mean this is my illustrious career? I had hoped for better.” We all wanted to work for 60 Minutes once. We’ve adjusted, as will they.

Sadly for those ambitious market-climbing youngsters, for every Crabbe, Hand, and Spink et al, there are another five Spradlins, Ashes, Bevelles, Belchers and Crawleys. So the clog in the pipeline is thick — but it’s getting grayer and craggier.

But it’s all relative. I agreed to pose with these News Professionals because I knew I could say I was the least senior of the bunch. It’s a curious way to cling to what little is left of my youth.

Why I’d want to do that, I don’t know.

Transmission chip

Bill Kalway, in WXIA's sat truck with one of Carrollton PD's finest

“Sir, is this your vehicle?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“May I come in?”

“Please do.”

“Sir, I’ve gotten a complaint that you’re using this vehicle to send messages to microchips implanted in the brains of residents around here.   Got any ID?”

“Ma’am, I work at an Atlanta TV station.  This is a satellite truck.”

Satellite truck? What’s that?”

“It sends a signal to a satellite 22,000 miles in orbit, which then sends it back to earth.”

“…And then into the chips implanted in the brains of our residents?  Sir, step out of the vehicle, please.”

“This is television.  We send the signals into outer space, then the TV station receives them, then sends them to a transmitter or a cable company, which then sends the picture to TV sets in homes across north Georgia.”

Dan Reilly, WXIA; Richard Elliott, WSB

“So you expect me to believe that you send a signal 44,000 miles in order to get it to my TV set just up the road?

“Exactly.”

“Whatever you say, pal.   What are all these other trucks doing here?”

“Same thing.”

“You know, my iphone sends a live video picture to another iphone.  I don’t need a truck or satellites or outer space. ”

“But that’s a phone.  This is television.”

“Right.  Turn around, hands behind your back.”

“You can’t arrest me for committing acts of television.”

“Tell it to the judge, spaceman.”

OK.  So, the cops really ventured into our sat truck to tell us we needed to move it to another piece of property, which wasn’t very interesting.

Vote for me

"A full dinner bucket!"

Some of my best and worst ideas come while running, which is something I do for exercise most mornings.  Typically the brainstorms come during mile four and five.  Many of the posts on this site are direct results of these moments, as well as moments parked alongside a glass of high-octane beer.

One materialized after I actually read a mass e-mail from NATAS. This is the organization best known for providing Emmys, and its spelled-backward acronym.  The e-mail suggested running for the board of Governors of this organization.  During mile four recently, a voice whispered:  Run.  You can “give back.”  Plus it might give you material for the blog.

Since I have no real clue what the Board of Governors does for NATAS, I was unsure.  I wrote an e-mail to the current president, who urged me to submit a 50 – 100 word narrative outlining my relevant experience.  (My word count on this post, so far, is 143.)

This week, I got an e-mail urging me to vote in the NATAS election.  Within it, there’s a list of ten nominees.  I’m one of them.

"Front Porch" Bill McKinley

So, apparently I’m running for the NATAS board of Governors.

In one blog post, here’s my campaign, a new-media version of William McKinley’s front porch campaign, minus the impending fatal brush with an anarchist in Buffalo hopefully.  I’m the proud owner of three McKinley buttons.  That’s one reason why you should vote for me.

Another is:  There are certain unsung behind-the-scenes folk in the Atlanta TV news biz who deserve consideration in this NATAS Silver Circle thing.  Because I may be asked to actually vote on such stuff, if elected, I won’t give up those names now.  I’m playing the Sotomayor / Kagan / Thomas / Frankfurter cards.  You’ll find out after it’s too late.  Vote for me.

Plus, if it’s interesting enough, I’ll blog about it.  Given my history, the “interesting” threshold is pretty low.  If the board has a pulse, I’ll probably write about it.  This could be instructive, for NATAS and for LAF readers.  I can’t say with certainly which of those groups would actually benefit, however, from such exposure.  If any.  Vote for me.

The NATAS Board allows members to vote for as many as eight “hard-working talented and accomplished individuals willing to dedicate time and energy to the success of the Southeast Chapter.”  If you’re a member, you got a link and a password in an e-mail this week.  You may select as few as one.  These are the nominees.

Felix "The Cat" Frankfurter

  • Lee Brown
  • Karyn Greer
  • Ray Goodrich
  • Myrna Moore
  • Thom Murrell
  • Lisa Rayam
  • Doug Richards
  • Laurel Ripley
  • Tom Regan
  • Bill Sykes

For your convenience, I’ve entered in bold type the names of nominees with whom I feel an effective coalition government could be formed.  Or a cabal.  Or a junta.  We’ll see which, if any, apply.  Vote for us.

My risk, of course, is this:  I’ll wage this one-post campaign, then end up ranking number nine or ten in the vote total.  This would be a crushing, devastating embarrassment.

If the results never get posted in this spot, you may surmise the worst.  Vote for me.  Thank you.

Pipe down

"What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" - R. Hobbs

Item:  ABC 33/40 Birmingham weekend anchor Roy Hobbs was arrested by Birmingham police over the weekend.  Hobbs is a former WAGA evening anchor.  Police say Hobbs had a crack pipe in the car.

Below are Roy Hobbs’ Top Ten Reasons he managed to get himself arrested in Birmingham with a crack pipe.

10.  To effectively utilize the crack cocaine found in the same car by police.

9.  Because that medium-market crack has a  more authentic, Southern taste.

8.  Because I can’t share crack with the prostitute police found with me earlier in the week, in the same location, without a top-notch crack pipe.

7.  Staying awake for the late local weekend news isn’t something most homo sapiens can do unless they’ve got a little sump’n – sump’n.

6.  Coz the genius who renamed my station, WCFT-TV, with the call letters “WBMA-LP,” was obviously using the same stuff.

5.  It was an undercover assignment, but I mistakenly grabbed the crack pipe instead of the lipstick cam.

4.  Crack use enhances my performance as an anchor / teleprompter operator

3.  It was a can’t-miss career move, sure to get me elevated to the weeknight anchor slot.  Or, so said my buddy Warren Savage.

2.  I figured a crack arrest would give me better credibility with a middle-Alabama local TV news audience.

1.  I was fresh out of meth.

Clarification / Zombiefication

Oops.

The women of Brenau University beseech the blogger to "get it right."

Gainesville GA, May 2009. The women of Brenau University beseech the blogger to "get it right."

While covering the Jimmy Carter museum event September 30, I somehow overlooked the on-scene presence of veteran TV photog Everett Bevelle.  Bevelle is (pretty sure) the only remaining newsman at WGCL who dates back to its founding newscast, back in the WGNX / “News at 10” days of the early 90s.

This means that I was mistaken when I wrote that WGCL was absent at the event.  Not only did I see Bevelle, but we shook hands and spoke.  Before he started at WGNX / WGCL, Bevelle and I worked together at WAGA.

So that was a major brain fart.  I regret the error, and apologize to Everett.  I’ve corrected the post and noted the error there.

WGCL news director Steve Schwaid reminded me of the encounter in an e-mail.  It’s worth noting that Schwaid made a comment in that post suggesting WGCL was able to interview the Carters that day on any subject, without the “museum only” restrictions that caused me so much hand-wringing.  At my request, Schwaid sent me the clips from WGCL’s coverage (they aren’t online).  They show the former President speaking only about the museum.

Schwaid was very helpful, and I appreciate his cooperation.

Of perhaps greater importance, below is the Zombieland commercial that I was unable to do.  I saw this movie Friday.  I’m not a fan of horror movies, but Zombieland is hilarious.  The only downside is sitting through the trailers beforehand, which are geared toward horror / fantasy movies that I avoid.

The celebrated Mr. Armstrong

The celebrated Mr. Armstrong

It’s worth noting that ex-WAGA production guy / Netherworld founder Ben Armstrong was a “zombie consultant” in this Georgia-made movie, as documented by the AJC and WXIA.   Anybody familiar with the downtown areas of Atlanta and Newnan will dig them in post-apocalyptic zombiefication.  Well done, Ben.

The ten rules of newsgathering

b_lion3The ten rules of newsgathering are primarily for the benefit of TV reporters.  However, you are encouraged to apply them to your everyday life as well.

No-parking-sign-(resized-250)1.  If something happens “all the time,” it’s unlikely to happen when you deploy a camera to shoot it.

2.  When shooting “man on the street” interviews, always ask individuals.  Groups of people delight in telling goons with microphones to f#ck off.   Separate the individuals from the herd, as would the lion stalking a meal on the Serengeti.

3.  When searching for parking, and presented with a space specified as “NO PARKING,” park in that space.  “NO” stands for “news organization.”  (h/t HPY.)

4.  It’s the reporter’s responsibility to ensure that the photographer gets a meal during your shift.  Take that responsibility seriously.  You don’t have to buy the meal.  Just make sure there’s time allotted.

5.  Always offer to help the photographer carry gear.

6.  Don’t wander into your competitor’s shot.  Don’t absentmindedly (or deliberately) drive your shiny happy “NewsCenter 3!” live truck behind a competing reporter while that reporter is doing a live shot.  “What goes around, comes around.”  Speaking of…

7.  If you aren’t sure whether you’re writing a cliché, you probably are.  Write something else instead.

Quality currency:  Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Quality currency: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

8.  If the phone rings at five minutes after noon, beware.  It means that the newsroom managers have seen something on a competing TV station’s noon news that your station has overlooked.  The phone call means you’re being asked to recoup on a story with a rapidly fading pulse.  Consider waiting five minutes, then return the call.  The problem may solve itself.

9.  When covering hurricanes, always pack a cooler of beer.  Beer is not only a refreshing must-have for those 18 hour workdays, but it is also useful currency with disaster crews, displaced residents and other media.  Those folks can make or break your coverage and your well-being.  Make sure the beer goes on the expense report.  If questioned by a bean counter, refer the questioner to these rules.

10.  Never run, except for exercise or if somebody’s life is in jeopardy.  Running diminishes dignity.   Dignity is valuable and frequently in short supply in your industry.   Never, ever break into a trot within the boundaries of a newsroom.  Unless you’re running from an axe murderer or the like.  Which isn’t completely out of the question.

Same as it ever was

"Get a new coat-- gosh!"

"Get a new coat-- gosh!"

By Mrs. Live Apartment Fire

This week my spouse returns to the tube.

It’s taking some getting used to — thinking about him having to “make deadline” again.

Suddenly, all this stuff will return to my life:

* Folded up pieces of paper with the word “slug” and “timecode” clogging up the lint trap.
* My mother’s comments: “We just don’t see you two as often as we would like.  I guess seeing my son-in-law on TV is just going to have to be good enough”.
*Turn on the nagging about grooming: Shave every day. Get a haircut. Trim the ear hair.  They make those tiny hair clippers for a reason.
*People asking me about a story that they saw him do two days ago. Err… Did I watch that one? Probably not.  I don’t watch this stuff unless I have to.
* Ironing board in use. Ties and slacks making a comeback by making their move to the front of the closet.
* Snowfall losing its charm.
* Crumpled up lunch receipts from “Eats” on the kitchen counter next to discarded pocket items: Cell phone, ID badge, earpiece, notepad, wallet, change, Sharpie, and a half sleeve of Mentos.
* Random people coming up to spouse at Sam’s Club: “Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere? Do you go to my church? You look familiar.”

* Christmas or Thanksgiving. You can’t have both.

* When it gets cold outside: Grandpa’s bitchin’ wool overcoat from the 60’s with Elvis Costello pin hiding under the lapel.  Porkpie hat / glasses combo to signal that he’s annoyed by whatever story he’s covering.
* Car trunk full of tapes and legal pads.
* At the dinner table–
Me: “Oh my god, and then this happened at work and she said blah blah blah.. And then I said… And can you believe him? I mean what a load of crap right? Anyway— how was your day?”
Spouse: “Triple homicide. More black-eyed peas?”

Thanks for that, Jez.  Be sure to check out the blog My Husband is Annoying, written by the wife of TV reporter-turned-blogger Mark Joyella (himself, the writer of the always-insightful Standup Kid’s Local Newser.)  Thankfully, Mrs. Joyella dreamed it up before Mrs. LAF did!  Both are in the blogroll to the right.