Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas News

It's a strange time of year for TV news. Like it is at your house, we are obsessed with all of the last-minute details of Christmas. Many have out of town visitors, or we're planning to be out of town ourselves. As many of the members of our staff as possible are gone. It's hard to concentrate on the job. But, we still have a job to do. We hear of the sadness and despair that seem to be magnified at this time of year. We hear of burglars and thieves who want to take advantage of the hectic pace of our days. We hear of the accidents that can happen when people get too busy to pay attention to the regular events of the day. We still need to know. We still need to be reminded. It would be great to be able to concentrate solely on the charitable giving, Christmas programs, toy and candy-making and the good things going on, but reality doesn't really allow it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bossier The Christmas Dog

If you're a pet owner, you know dogs can cost you a lot of money.

While we're forking over big bucks for their food, health care, grooming, boarding and toys, what are they doing to contribute to the family income and pay their part?

Absolutely nothing.

They won't do the dishes, never seem to help with laundry, and refuse to get a paper route.

This weekend, it was fun to see my dog finally contribute -- and to charity, at that!

On Saturday, I decided to head out to the Southwest Drive Walmart and help out with the bell ringing battle. I figured if a handful of employees were going to be there volunteering their time, I probably should too. Last year, we brought our dog for a little while and dressed him in a Santa outfit that he absolutely despises. However, people seemed to like it. And if they liked it, they were more likely to drop money in the red kettle to benefit the Salvation Army.

I couldn't decide whether to bring Bossier this year. As soon as I pulled out the red suit, he cowered and tried to hide. However, my wife talked him out of his fit.

"Bossier, if you refuse to get a job and do any chores around here," she said in a scolding and forceful manner, "The least you could do is help charity!"

So, Bossier reluctantly put on his Santa suit and trotted off to the car.

When we got to Walmart, the KRBC side was pretty well staffed, but Victor Sotelo stood alone on Team KTAB. It was clear Bossier would be Vic's donation wing man.

It didn't take long for the kids (and adults!) to start gathering around him -- and with the attention came donations.

Bossier eventually came out of his comotose state of depression caused by the costume and became a somewhat playful version of himself. You might say this was a job he enjoyed.

In the end, Team KTAB won. Team KRBC's Chris Whited pointed to one reason for the defeat: Bossier the Christmas dog.

Maybe Bossier helped push them over the top, maybe not...

Either way, I'm proud of Bossier the Christmas dog. It's about time he did something to contribute to society!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's not spoused to be funny!

If we haven't mentioned it yet on this here blog, or if you haven't figured it out by the matching surnames, Austin Kellerman (news director) and I (web manager) are married.

Brownwood, July 2010
That makes for a very interesting dynamic here at work. It can be quite stressful at times, and boundaries can get a little murky, but mostly it's just fun.

Like yesterday when my computer crashed and I couldn't record the Web Watch segment on my web camera, so I had to have Austin come help me record it on my iPhone.

Screen shot of the bloopers :)

I really dislike being on camera (contrary to popular belief) and I get very nervous doing any type of on-air stuff in front of people, including my husband. So yesterday, I could not ignore the huge grin on Austin's face as I was trying to talk. Watch what happens!

video

The last clip is the one that I finally got through without laughing, so I had to just keep going even when I messed up! Ah, the joys of editing :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

She's a Trooper

My partner is playing hurt. Nance' Burgin showed up for work this morning in spite of a bad cold. She said she hated to call in sick at 2:00 in the morning. She says she doesn't fee too bad, but you can tell that she's not in full voice. Voice is pretty important for a morning weather person. Her job includes about a dozen forecasts and several more brief appearances. Nance' is a delightful girl and a good meteorologist who knows her job. I didn't know that she's so tough until I saw her battle through her cold this morning to do the job. I'm impressed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Abilene Says Goodbye to the Sims Era

On Saturday, Abilene football had its own trail of tears. It stretched from Arlington to Abilene along Interstate 20.

Cooper and Abilene fans traveled the two-and-half hour long trek on along trail. On most Saturday nights, I-20 would be virtually empty from the Metroplex to West Texas. On November 27, there were red lights as far as the eyes could see. Some vehicles sported red shoe polish that said “Go Coogs”; others sported Abilene High stickers. Inside those cars were fans sad to say goodbye to another season.

With my wife asleep during most of the drive, I had the radio off and time to reflect. I looked back on two great seasons – and I reflected on the end of an era: the Sims era.

Herschel and Ronnell Sims helped put Abilene back on the national map. Sure, they couldn’t and didn’t do it alone. But let’s be honest: they were key instruments that brought West Texas football and Abilene to a place it hadn’t been in half a century.

Because of their skills, football in Abilene experienced a state championship, two games on ESPN networks, a new relationship with Nike, and a one-hour feature on MTV. Let’s not forget we’re talking about a high school football team. That’s pretty darn impressive.

Over the last two years, we’ve watched Ronnell Sims find ways to win in games the Warbirds should’ve lost. We’re watched Herschel Sims run for 200 yards plus in games where the opposing defense knew he’d be running – yet couldn’t stop him. We’ve watched the guys get battered by the opposition and continue playing when most people would’ve sat on the sidelines.

The Sims cousins are winners. And Abilene will miss them.

I look forward to rooting for them over the next four years as they move on to the next stage of their careers. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the both of them. No matter where each ends up, I’ll be cheering for them. I know I’m not alone.

In closing, I say simply say thanks. I thank you for giving of yourselves. I thank you for helping take Big Country football to the next level. I thank you for being good citizens and inspiring others who will come after you.

Abilene won’t be the same without you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goodbye, Stephanie


As I've had to do several times during my 22 months here at KRBC, I have the unenviable task of saying goodbye to one of my best friends once again. As you all now know, KRBC co-anchor Stephanie Harris' last day is Wednesday. As big a loss as this is on air, it's a bigger loss to me personally.

Perhaps it's only appropriate that Stephanie's last day on air is the day before Thanksgiving. It helps remind me to be eternally grateful for the time we had together here in Abilene. When I became the Executive Producer for KRBC, I felt a little lost and confused. Stephanie helped me figure things out, and we developed a great working relationship, and friendship. The same goes for her husband, the inimitable Robert Mooring. I was not happy when I learned they'd be moving off to Malibu. But it didn't take me long to realize how happy they'll be together, and what a great life they have ahead of them.

I've been trying not to count down the days, but I knew the last day was coming, and have tried to prepare myself for it. It hasn't worked. But I know that when the sun rises on Thanksgiving morning, when Stephanie moves on and the rest of us stay behind, I'll still have all the memories we have together (And speaking of memories of Stephanie, I'd tune in Wednesday night at 10 if I were you... expect some surprises!). Not to mention, you leave behind a great successor waiting in the wings (Who is it?!? Stay tuned!)

As I was reminded earlier this week, we don't say "goodbye" in the news business; it's "see you later". So, Stephanie, until we see each other again, enjoy life on the beautiful California coast. We love you, we'll miss you, and we'll never forget all the good times we had together.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coach Spradlin Takes the Cooper High Road

Sometimes in life, we have to make hard decisions.

We’ve all had to do it…

For a parent, it might be disciplining a child knowing you’re going to have to watch them cry. For a boss, it might be letting a good person go because they’re underperforming in the workplace. For another person, it might be ending a relationship knowing it’s going to break the heart of someone you care about. For a coach, it might be letting three talented players go because they don’t meet your team’s expectations.

They all sting a little – but you make the hard decision because it’s the right thing to do.

I want to applaud Cooper High School Head Coach Mike Spradlin and his staff for making a tough decision on Friday night by removing three players from the team indefinitely. It would’ve been easy for the coaches to turn a blind eye to what was happening. That would’ve been the easy thing to do. Instead, they made a decision that could potentially cost them their opportunity at a state title.

I also applaud Spradlin and AISD Superintendent Heath Burns for their transparency. It would’ve been easy to try and cover this up or deny it; I’ve seen other districts do it. Instead, they were forthcoming about the situation without compromising the privacy of their students.

Who were the players and what did they do? At the end of the day, it’s really not that important. We all made mistakes in our teenage years. Sure, some of our mistakes were worse than others. But at the end of the day, these guys are just kids. Yes, they play on a popular football team in a town where high school football is everything. But as kids, they deserve privacy…and they deserve second chances.

Win or lose this Saturday, we should all take pride in the fact that Cooper High and Mike Spradlin chose the high road. In a day and age where teams look past players’ poor attitudes and actions, Cooper refused to do that.

As a head coach, Mike Spradlin is naturally in a position to for people to look up to him. On this occasion, Spradlin showed us what being a role model is all about.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Funny Movie

My wife and I went to see a silly new date movie over the weekend. Morning Glory is one of those romantic comedies that are usually very forgettable. This one was a little different for me. First, Harrison Ford is in it. Second, it was set is a morning TV news broadcast. It was pure, escapist fiction...but there were several scenes that made me laugh out loud, and I was the only one the theater laughing. The alarm going off in the middle of the night was all too recognizable. The anchor waking up just in time to pretend to be alertly reading the teleprompter script and the youthful exuberance about the importance of the job were certainly close to reality. The deadline of the clock and the concern about the stories in the stack are real. Both led to some funny and recognizable scenes. The problems with individual egos were exaggerated, but certainly part of the business. It was set in New York, and the concerns about tenths of a rating point and the concerns about the most minute of details remind me of why we stay here in Abilene. My wife enjoyed it for different reasons. She was probably laughing more at me than at the screen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day + 22 Years

Here we go with another election day. We are planning extensive coverage of all of the important races and issues on the ballot. Election days are big deals in TV news. There is a lot of real-life drama waiting for the results and hearing from the winners and losers. The people we choose in these elections have authority to levy property taxes and then decide how local, state and federal government organizations should spend that money for the services they provide. It takes a lot of work, and it's a big job to get the information, make sure it's right and then pass it on. It's one of the reasons why many reporters decide on this business.
Election coverage is at best tiring and trying. At worst, it's exhausting and frustrating.
I remember election day, 1988 vividly. I started early...before six that morning for our regular Daybreak cut-ins back when KTAB was in the old building. I was finished with my morning shift and the preliminary election work about 3:00 in the afternoon. I was going to go home to rest and see my family before coming back up about 6:45 for the election coverage that evening. It was a presidential election. That year, it was between George Bush, the 41st President and Democrat Michael Dukakis. There were also a lot of important elections in Texas and across the Big Country.
My friend and co-worker Ned Austin came running out with a camera as I was getting in the car. He said there was a call on the scanner of a B-One Bomber with an in-flight emergency and he was going to see if he could get video of it. In-flight emergencies are not uncommon. It's usually a minor problem and they land just fine. But not this time. We saw the big, beautiful plane flying over with an obvious problem. A bright red flame trailed along under the wing at least twice the length of the big plane. Ned got the video that later proved to be important for the accident investigators.
The plane was still a relatively new weapons system, and some of the problems had not been fixed. This one had a problem with the fuel line...and the escaping jet fuel was burning.
The crew fought to keep control of the big plane and bring it back in. The pilot decided that wasn't possible...so he and the other officers aimed it to a remote area just Northwest of the city...away from all of the homes and businesses. The pilot ordered the co-pilot and the offensive and defensive systems officers to bail-out. Then he pointed the nose down and pulled his escape hatch. All four men got out safely. The big beautiful bomber crashed into the vacant field. It was destroyed, but there were no injuries and no other significant loss of property. His heroism prevented a possible bigger disaster.
The crash made a challenging day for news reporters a day that really makes us realize why we ever wanted to do TV news. When the day was over and we had given our reports of the crash and the election results, we felt like we had finished a marathon. Exhausted, elated, delighted and proud of the way we covered the news and especially thankful for the brave men who kept that big fuel-laden plane away from people and homes.
I hope the election is the biggest story of this day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Uncharted Territory


Just a few thoughts following the Rangers' historic first round victory, clinched late Tuesday night:

First, my sincere apologies to my co-workers for the several high pitched screams during the course of ALDS Game 5. There were about a half-dozen moments that had me jumping up and down like a little kid. When Ian Kinsler slammed the door shut with a home run in the 9th, I absolutely lost it. My thanks especially to David Robinett for putting up with a temporary noisy neighbor, and Manny Diaz, whose desk I sat at for all 3 Rangers victories.

Second, I would like to thank everyone I work with for indulging me, or at the very least, not treating me like an absolute lunatic, for my loud outward expressions of rabid Rangers fandom. I have worn the same shirt, my brand new Rangers AL West Championship t-shirt, to work on every game day thus far, and will continue to do so until this magic ride ends. Guys, I promise not to let it get smelly. And let it be known that I am in fact getting work done during these games. No, I'm not nearly as engaged as I normally am. But the newscast can't be sacrificed, no matter how important the game is, and I appreciate Stephanie Harris, Randy Turner, and associate producer Stetson Samuel for getting the job done. And to Austin Kellerman for not firing me.

Third, this still hasn't sunk in. Maybe it never will. This is special. We Rangers fans are in uncharted territory. After the Game 4 loss, I walked around like the season was already over, because I've come to expect this team to come up short. Maybe the Rangers will get killed in the next round. Or maybe they'll make it to the World Series. Who knows.

Fourth, BRING ON THE YANKEES.

Fifth, The Texas Rangers are the only team never to have won a postseason series.

Sixth and finally, IT'S TIME!!!! GOOOOOOOO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!

Hairy Problem

I try to take a quick check of the mirror before the camera comes on at 5:30 for KTAB Daybreak. I have a comb and can tackle an unruly waft of hair pointed inappropriately in, out or sideways. I have a problem commonly called a "widow's peak." It's genetically recessive. It's always been a problem. When I was little, it gave me something in common with Eddie Munster. The "widow's peak" often sneaks out from under the rest of my hair on my forehead. It's worse if I try too hard to fix it. But, I noticed it on a recent promotional spot we recorded about the Ready, Set, Home segment. A newsman's hair should be like a football referee. It's there to do a job...but it should never call attention to itself.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nude? Who Knew?

I'm heading to the Abilene Public Library at lunch time to check out some books on photography. I've already scouted them out on my computer, read the summaries, and know which ones I want. I head downstairs, grab my three books, and take them home.

I grab a snack, sit in front of the TV and begin to browse. I start with The Complete Guide to Light. It has a sunset, building, and angelic child on the cover. How lovely.

After looking at the first several pages, I realize the pictures in it aren't all that great. So I begin to thumb through quickly, and land on a complete full-frontal nude woman. With her head cropped out, of course. I freak out and close the book and drop it on the coffee table.

What the heck? There is nothing on the front or back cover, or in the summary online, that indicates there are nude photos inside. There is a flower girl on the cover. I assume there are more naked photos, because the book kind of shows several of the same type of photos demonstrating different kinds of lighting. I don't know that there are more than one, because I'm not about to find out.

A man here at the station informs me that this is nothing new. Growing up pre-Internet, he used to go to the library and look at nude photos all the time.

I suppose some sort of warning label would just draw attention to the bad pictures inside, but you would think there would be something to alert innocent eyes that they're about to see something completely inappropriate. I am sure that if there were a website with that picture on it, it would be blocked by the library computers.

And for the record, I don't buy the "it's just art" argument. It's a naked woman posing for the camera.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Employee Gets Doc's Note from Chuck Greenberg

We've all done it. We make a silly joke or say something we probably shouldn't have and immediately reply with the phrase, "just kidding!"

Although, the truth is we were just kind of kidding. Actually, we meant it.

That's the way I look at this strange note I received via Facebook today:

I've had employees have their significant others call them in sick. I've had workers send text messages. But, sumbitting a fake doctor's note via Facebook?
Sure, Mark Moseley was joking when he "tagged" me in this post. Deep down, though, he was also hoping I'd post a comment saying, "how funny! Why don't you take a much deserved day off and enjoy the ballgame." Well, too bad buddy!
The difference between Mark and some folks is that he'll still show up for work. He'll physically be there. We can't count on his mind (poor Randy, Stephanie and Brittany).
Nevertheless, it'll be interesting to see how many Big Country workers make that sick call, sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy a little Rangers baseball. Something tells me Chuck Greenberg may have a stack full of doctors notes to sign at the end of the day...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Magic.

I was among the 50,000 or so in attendance at The Ballpark in Arlington on October 9th, 1999, when the Rangers played, to date, their last ever playoff game. I remember it clearly: Derek Jeter tripled in the first inning, followed shortly by a homer by Darryl Strawberry (DARRRRRRRYL). That was all the offense the hated Yankees needed; Roger Clemens, no doubt fresh off a gigantic shot of steroids, shut the Rangers down, didn't give up a run, in comes Mariano Rivera, and for the third time in four years, Texas was promptly dispatched by the eventual world champions.

For 11 years now, I've waited to see my beloved team back in the postseason. Ever since then, in times good (a few) and bad (a whole freaking lot), I've stayed behind the wheel of the unofficial Rangers' Bandwagon. And now, barring an epic collapse, it's gonna happen. As the slogan reads: It's Time.

The purpose of this blog is not to wax poetic about the Rangers' string of awful seasons the last week or so, or to recap the spectacular, memorable season they've given me in 2010. No, this entry is an open invitation for all you sports fans: jump on the bandwagon now. I'm driving this sucker, and I've saved room for all of you.

Unless the Cowboys turn it around quickly, and somehow overcome their overwhelming schedule from here on out, Dallas games are going to revert to what they were a few years ago, which was basically akin to taking medicine: you knew it was gonna be bad, but you had to suffer through it.

Now, finally, there may be an alternative, if only for a short while. The Rangers' Magic Number (combined wins + losses by 2nd place Oakland) is at 6. Again I say, barring an epic collapse, it's. gonna. happen.

Hop on.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Anchor Down

Written by Tim C., KTAB producer

Anchors are more than pretty faces for the TV...and Bob and Lane will be the first to let you know.

Seriously though as much grief as I like to give them Bob and Lane are more than just anchors. They produce, write, coordinate, and share in just about every responsibility in the newsroom. Which makes it a lot less fun when they are out of the office for many reasons.

As many of you have probably noticed Lane has been out, and will be for another week or so, and my boss let me know that dropping the 5 pm show was not an option so that means a few extra hours up at the office.

When people are gone from the workplace you really realize just how much work they do...all that time I thought Lane was just goofing off. So all this to say that anchors should not be allowed to take time off from work, mostly because its inconvenient for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Voir Dire

I went to the mailbox a few days ago and found a big green postcard from the district clerk. I checked the front and there was my full legal name, Ronald Wayne Rosseau. Jury Duty. I don't have time for jury duty...almost no one has time for jury duty. I thought about the disqualifications and the possible exemptions. My kids are all too big. There is no one invalid in my house. I'm still a ways from the exemption for being at least 70. I thought about the sound mind exemption. The judge might buy it. My alarm clock goes off at at time when the chickens would slap the silly thing off and tuck their head under the other wing. I finally dropped the idea and showed up. Surely, the lawyers wouldn't want someone like me for the jury. Hundreds of people were already in the jury assembly room when I got there. Hundreds more came in later. My chances for early dismissal looked pretty good, and after the clerk named a hundred or more people and directed them to different jury panels, she told the rest of us that we wouldn't be needed. The exhales of relief was audible and palpable. One of the biggest and loudest came from my chest. I came back to work, but the phone rang. There was a mistake and I had to come back for another jury panel. After sitting there and waiting for the wheels of justice to grind on our nerves, the judge invited all of us up to the fourth floor for the voir dire. I know just enough French to know that it shouldn't be pronounced "voy-dire," but that's how we say it here in West Texas. It means "to say truth." I had already raised my hand and promised to tell the truth. I would anyway. After the attorneys explained the importance of what the process for the defendant and for the Texas legal system, my thoughts began to change. I was secretly hoping that the lawyers would want me on the jury. I was number 25 of about 40. They needed twelve. The judge started calling out the names that the lawyers wanted for the case. The only took four or five from each of the first two rows. There was still a chance...but then they skipped me and called the last two-or three jurors seated down the line. The rest of us were free to go with the thanks and appreciation of the court. It was an interesting process. I don't know which attorney didn't want me. It really doesn't matter. I hope that the dread will be a little less the next time I open the mailbox and find one of those big green postcards with my full legal name on it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Horrible News

We often have to report bad news. Unusual events in our community and world affects our viewers. Sometimes the news affects us individually and sometimes very deeply. That happened this morning in our MoneyWatch Report. One of the items in the 75-second report is horrible...potentially devastating. It's winter in the Southern Hemisphere. One of the most important commodities in the world is grown in places like Columbia, Argentina and Brazil, and it's been an unseasonably cold winter. That means this year's coffee harvest is less than normal. Reduced supplies and continued strong demand means that the coffee prices are going up. That's awful! Those of you who know me personally know that my coffee cup is always close by, and never empty for very long. Someone asked me how many cups of coffee I drink every day. I can't answer that. I don't count. If I did, it wouldn't be measured in cups. Pots maybe. Quarts would be a more manageable unit. Let's pray that the harvest is better than they expect.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gossip Girl, Signing Off...


Katherine gave us the following blog entry to post before she left town Thursday. We wish her the best! You can leave your comments below:

As some of you may know, Thursday was sadly my last day in the Big Country. Tonight, I will drive East on I-20 towards Dallas, where I am beginning the next chapter in my life.

I came to KTAB two weeks after I graduated from TCU. What a change it was! All the sudden, my mom pulled out of my driveway and I was a full-blown adult on my way to my first reporting job.

I was told in the beginning that time would fly, and there were some days I didn't believe it. But, as I sit at my desk one last time, I can honestly say, it did.

I have been so lucky to work with such an incredible team at KTAB/KRBC. Each one of you has been a partner and a friend. I will never forget this place.

I wanted to take the time to thank ALL of you whose path I have crossed since coming here in May 2008.

Every person I've encounted has made a huge impact on my life. There has never been a moment I felt out of place, for that I am eternally grateful.

I would like to especially thank my family and friends in Albany for inviting me into your amazing community and making me one of your own. I grew up spending most of my free time in Albany and always wanted to get a taste of what it would be like to live here. I am SO lucky to have chosen such a unique profession to give me that opportunity.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bon Voyage Big Country!

Katherine

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stamford Situation Brings Back Bad Memories

The following blog post was written by KRBC Executive Producer Mark Moseley:

It's absolutely unbelievable. Shocking, really, that in 2010, you could imagine anyone spouting something like it.

That was how I reacted to the racist "Song of the South" recording that our newsroom received Monday afternoon. An excerpt:

Cotton on the roadside
Cotton in the ditch
Pick that cotton, you black son of a b****
Pretty shameful. And the fact that it was attributed to a school district superintendent made it all the more shocking. It's no wonder that residents of Stamford are angry at this. Residents are saying it's not the first incident of alleged racism in that city. Either way, a lot of people are upset, and it's clear that a conversation needs to be had on race relations in that city. But before that happens, this song business should be cleared up. And that can be done with a simple Google search.

Look up "song of the south racist version ringtone". The very first result is the exact same song that you heard on our news Monday. It's no different. It's pretty obvious that it's been on the internet for a long time. And unless Stamford's superintendent goes by the profile name "michael_54", it's pretty clear that this isn't him in the recording.

I grew up in Greenville, Texas, about 50 miles east of Dallas. Just about everyone who grew up there knows the two things Greenville is famous for: the sign, and the church burnings. For the better part of four decades, a sign hung over downtown Greenville, which read "Greenville Welcome: The Blackest Land, The Whitest People". (Image here) That sign has been gone for more than 40 years, but the stigma lives on today. It certainly did in the summer of 1996, when an arsonist burned two predominantly black churches to the ground. The KKK and Black Panthers gathered at our courthouse simultaneously. It was an ugly time, and even though I was only 10, I knew something was horribly wrong in my hometown.

I bring this up not because I believe the same thing will happen in Stamford, but because I know how quickly things like this can escalate. And they become much, much worse when garbage like this ringtone comes into play.

I've never been to Stamford. I don't know anyone from Stamford. I've never met the superintendent, or anyone who may be an enemy of his. I don't know why someone would say that's him on the recording, or that there's the possibility that it's him, or that would lie and say it's him to discredit him. And I hope that residents there can get to the real root of what's bothering them. But as long as wild accusations like this ringtone are being thrown around, that just can't happen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Day of Comebacks, On and Off the Field

As a proud lifelong fan of the Texas Rangers, I know that Wednesday, August 4, 2010 will go down as a red-letter day in franchise history. Even though the two most important events of the day technically happened in the wee hours of the 5th.

It was a day for comebacks. Victory in the face of defeat. The Rangers were in the Pacific Northwest, but the story begins over 2,000 miles away, in a Fort Worth courtroom.

For months, the Rangers have been mired in desperate times, thanks to owner Tom Hicks’ gradual descent into financial ruin. You see, Mr. Hicks and his ownership group became stuffed to the gills with debt. Millions upon millions of dollars owed to creditors, including a handful of former players who haven’t put on a uniform in more than a decade.

The debt situation had become so bad that even when Hicks decided to throw in the towel and sell his Rangers, it just wasn’t feasible because of the sheer number of people owed money. That led to months of wrangling, while the Texas front office remained hamstrung by a lack of cash.

As we fans have witnesses in recent weeks, the Rangers’ wunderkind of a GM, Jon Daniels, has spun some magnificent trades, convincing other teams to not only trade Texas good players, but cash needed to pay them as well. His moves have given the Rangers, among other things, the ace this team has needed for decades to make a bona fide playoff run.

Meanwhile, team management (and of course, the most faithful of fans) counted down the days until Wednesday, when the team would go up for auction like a prized blue-ribbon pig. Two groups were ready to bid on that pig: a pre-approved group led by Rangers legend Nolan Ryan (and dapper Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg), and a late addition to the proceedings, led by Mr. Moneybags himself, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cubes had both the cash and the cojones to keep jacking up the price for the Rangers, setting off a tumultuous day in federal bankruptcy court that continued well into the night and following morning. Don’t get me wrong; I think having Mark Cuban as the Rangers owner would be spectacular. He’s passionate, he wants to win, and he’s got the cash (“Steinbrenner money” as my buddy called it) to go out and overpay for elite talent.

But my support was firmly behind Team Ryan/Greenberg. They’ve already been approved by MLB’s owners (the key to ownership in this league), and they are virtually assured to keep the front office as it is, which has turned the Rangers from a joke into a juggernaut. And finally, at about 12:45 am, Team Cuban conceded. The long nightmare was over. The Rangers would have a pair of fresh, friendly faces at the top.

But the drama wasn’t limited to the courtroom that night. Having lost 3 of their last 4 games, the Rangers’ offense had been sputtering, and the team desperately needed a jolt. Thanks to a little disrespect, the team got just that. Backup outfielder David Murphy came up with the go-ahead run on base, which had been put on intentionally so that the Mariners could pitch to Murph. David responded by blasting a home run deep into right field, then staring at it a la Ken Griffey, Jr. From there, the runs kept coming, and the Rangers ended up scoring 11 times. Then after the game was over, the players learned, along with the rest of the world, that the ownership situation had been resolved.

It’s a new day for the Rangers and their fans. The talent is there, from the top of the organization, all the way to the rookie leagues. The front office is talented, and brilliant, and they finally have ownership that will support them financially. This is an exciting time to be a fan. Playoff fever is in the air, and the team is playing as well as any team named “Rangers” ever has. The future, both immediate and long-term, looks amazing.

And who knows, maybe in the next couple of months, the Boys of Summer will knock the Dallas Cowboys off the front pages.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Preview of the News

There was a problem with the closed-captioning device on KTAB Daybreak this morning. That meant that you could see the words on the teleprompter as I rolled it. We have a goal of looking about six words ahead of what we are saying. It's a skill we try to develop over the years to keep from getting surprised at what we see as we deliver the news. That also meant that you could see the stories coming up before we actually got there. The words on the screen didn't always match the words you heard coming out of my mouth...or the video showing up on the screen. Another thing it meant was that you could see the TV style I use to write the news. For example, 3:30 PM looks like THREE-30 IN THE AFTERNOON on the scripts. We use all-caps for TV scripts. I know it looks like screaming on E-Mail, but we were writing in all-caps before E-Mail was a glimmer in anyone's eyes.
Closed-captioning is a great tool for people who have trouble hearing the TV broadcast, but it's a little bit disconcerting it you're not used to it. Our engineers are working to get it fixed...hopefully before Noon-Tab.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is the iPhone a Symbol of American Materialism?

Written by Nathan Hale, associate producer

First, I just want to get a couple things out of the way: 1) I believe in paying for quality goods. I like to spend my money of stuff that worth spending it on. 2) I am not an Apple hater. I have great deal of respect for the design ideals and innovation that comes from the company and its famous CEO. 3) I love cool gadgets. Seriously. That said, there are a number of things regarding the culture surrounding the iPhone--especially this latest version--that trouble me.

On a fundamental level, the sheer number of people who are willing to invest hours of their time camping out for a first-chance at grabbing an iPhone is nothing short of disturbing. I can understand waiting in long lines for rollercoasters (it's a relational, rare thrill-ride) and even some movies (again, there's a communal aspect that adds to our art culture). But a phone? A phone is just a tool. It may be well designed (I stop short of calling it art), and it may be a superior product compared other options on the market, but surely there better things to form large communities around.

When Apple was making niche products, this kind of behavior made more sense, but now Apple has been part of the mainstream years. Standing in long lines to get the latest iPhone seems to me to be less about being part of community and more about getting the latest-and-greatest gadget. The shiniest new toy. The next great thing to allow me be "social" 24/7. The thing that will impress all my friends. Sorry, but that's just shallow.

Virtually all those that stand in the lines to get the newest iPhone already have a perfectly capable older model. The upgrade is certainly significant, but it is worth the time and money? Does anyone (other than professionals) need to take HD video on their phone? What about the greater speed and high-resolution camera? Is it at all needed by most people making the upgrade?

I'm not saying the device isn't cool, or isn't worth buying. I'm not even saying you shouldn't buy the iPhone 4. If you want it and have the money, and consider it a good investment, then go for it! What I am saying is that we should all consider what's behind our buying decisions. I'm convinced that too many people (myself included) are buying the iPhone and other electronic devices out a desire to be defined by their things, rather than their actions and principles.

The emotional attachment people clearly feel, the compulsion they have to constantly have the most cutting-edge object, is more than just appreciating quality and wanting to buy a good product. I find the whole idea particularly troubling when I consider the question, what else could I do with 16 hours and 200 bucks?

Just a few things that come to mind:

· Add to my emergency fund

· Create a work of art

· Sponsor a child for 8 months

· Volunteer 2 hours a week for 2 months

That's just off the top of my head. I know there are more and probably even better options--but we have to be willing to view ourselves as people prior to finding our identities as consumers.

How do you view yourself?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tye has fireworks why can’t we?


I’m a little sad that the city of Abilene isn’t having a 4th of July fireworks show.
For those who don’t know the history, Kenneth Musgrave who has paid for Abilene’s fireworks display for past several years has decided not to put on a show this year.
It’s because Mr. Musgrave and the city had a spat at last year’s show over wind conditions which ended with the show being postponed for a night. Needless to say there are still some hard feelings……which translates to no show for Abilene.
I know Tye is hosting a festival with all kinds of fun things for the family but it’s just not the same.
And yes, I know the city is having budget issues and is doing its best to overcome the loss in sales tax revenue but come on. Squeeze out a little money for a fireworks show….
Every other city in the big country has fireworks why can’t we? I sound like a whiney child. Oh well I like fireworks.
If you live in Abilene and are looking for something to do this Independence Day weekend get on our website and go to our community calendar and look at everyone else’s events.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Production Crew Terrorizes Kailey

video

Every once in awhile, the production crew decides to have some fun at the expense of the on-air folks. On Thursday morning, Justin Snow had a little fun that Kailey Franz won't soon forget!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Umbrella Joke

My friend and partner Kailey Franz often teases me about needing an umbrella. I made a mistake when she first started by telling her that I have never owned and umbrella and I wouldn't carry one if I had it. It has become a running inside joke...and you should probably be in on it. I grew up in the desert part of Washington State...where the average annual precipitation was about seven-inches. Most of that was in a single January snow storm. I grew up playing baseball, and I don't ever remember having a game rained out. Men and boys just didn't carry umbrellas. We didn't need them. We wouldn't have walked under one if someone next to us had one. It was like carrying a purse or wearing perfume. It just wasn't done. I remember the first time I drove into Texas to go to ACU in September of 1978. It was raining so hard that I really needed my windshield wipers. I thought those were just for pushing the water away after going through a car wash. You can get soaked here in the rain, and I can certainly see the need for having an umbrella...for some people, just not for me. I'll just plod through the rain...unless it's raining hard. Then, I'll dart through the weather as fast as these worn-out old knees will allow until I get to the safety of the car or the building. But, it will always be without an umbrella.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the Crapper No More!

This is the story of how I got my iPhone to work after an unfortunate swim in the porcelain pool.

For the short version of the story, read the blue text. Because if you dropped your phone in the loo, you do not have time to read this.

I feel the need to take a moment and defend my irresponsible behavior. One June 1, my sweet husband came and woke me up with a kiss and subsequently turned off my alarm. He assumed the personal attention should have been enough, right? Wrong. I am a three-snooze kind of girl. So I went back to sleep looking forward to that extra 27 minutes in bed. Which turned into an hour. When I finally woke up four minutes before I was supposed to leave, I raced around, attempting to multi-task my way out the door.

Insert iPhone in toilet.

After only a nanosecond of hesitation I stuck my hand in there, fished it out, and ran it over to the sink. I knew it was a bad idea, but I just had to attempt to sanitize it.

The phone was still glowing at the bottom of the bowl, but after several seconds under the faucet it went dark.

I shook out as much water as I could into a towel and tried to turn it on a couple of times, but nothing.


I somehow had the idea to stick it in rice to absorb some of the water, but we generally make Uncle Ben's 90-second Ready Rice. (Aside: If you have never tried this, you must. It tastes JUST as good as regular rice and, HELLO, 90 seconds!) I fished and fished and finally found a package of uncooked brown rice that I had gotten in a goodie bag at a 5K I ran... back in 2007.

I stuck the phone and the rice in a ziplock and raced out the door.

I left the phone in the rice most of the day and periodically took it out to see if it would come on. Everything I read online said whatever you do, DON'T plug it in. You probably shouldn't try to turn it on either, but I'd like to meet someone with that kind of patience. I also discovered the rice was getting stuck down in the headphone jack and plug connector slot area (technical term).

I read that silica gel packets that come with electronics work great. You should place them in an air tight container with the phone and don't touch it for a few days. After work I went to Hobby Lobby and bought silica gels in the floral department. The smallest bag was still way more than I needed, but $5.99 plus my 40% coupon was a small price to pay. (Aside: Why would you ever pay full price for anything at Hobby Lobby? If it's not 50% off it will be next week. And if you HAVE to have something, there's always a 40% coupon on the website for full-priced items.)

Since the silica gels I bought did not come in packets, and are the size of Malt-o-Meal grains, I wrapped the phone in cheese cloth before dropping it in the Tupperware. In the photo you can see they turn pink when saturated and go back to blue when you dry them out in the oven. I actually poured water on them here. There was no real sign of pink gels when I took my phone up.

The phone stayed out of sight (but never, ever out of mind) until June 4. That's three 1/2 days.

It turned on a little bit, but you could barely see anything on the screen and said it needed to be connected to iTunes. I plugged it in and iTunes asked me to restore the phone. I did, and had to hit the road for a trip, so I plugged it back into iTunes at my parents' house and restored it again.

Commence three straight days of the phone deciding whether it wanted to work or not. Sometimes the screen would be dark, sometimes it would be perfectly normal. On day 6 the phone came back to life but the home button thought it was pressed, and it just sat there sliding back and forth between the home screen and search screen. If I opened any program it would return to the home screen. Other times the home button wouldn't work at all. So if I wanted to flip between my email and maps (and why, on vacation in another state in which I was the designated navigator, would I ever need to access my email or maps?) I had to turn my phone on and off.

Then, on day 8, it worked again. Completely back to normal. It must have heard me talk about performing a sim card transplant on an old Blackberry. Or maybe it was jealous when EVERYBODY and their mom started talking about its younger, hotter sister, "4."

Now, I still don't have any contacts or anything because I never backed it up, but the phone is back in business.

What's the moral of the story kids? Back up your phone as often as possible and don't check your email in the john!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honoring the "Barron" of Cash

Tragic news from abroad: the inventor of the first cash machine has passed away.

According to BBC News, John Shepherd-Barron, 84, passed on following a short illness. Quoting BBC:


"Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea for a cash machine while in the bath. The first ATM machine was installed at a bank in London in 1967."


Perhaps it was no illness at all, but great shame that fell this great innovator. Shame at the prospect of his great inventions being stolen with reckless abandon by brazen thieves in this area.

Let us all hope and pray that police either here or in Wichita Falls stop these thieves in their tracks, and soon. Not just for the handful of people whose vehicles have been stolen and used to commit crime. Or for the store owners, managers, and employees who have to clean up the messes left behind. But also for John Shepherd-Barron, whose greatest invention is meant to be used only for good.

As we reported Wednesday night, Abilene police got a little jump on these guys after their latest attempt. We're ready for justice, gentlemen.

Do it for John.



Related Links:


Inventor of cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, dies

Chain Gang Strikes Again...Leaves Evidence Behind

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mayor, Here's Your 15 Minutes of Fame

If you see a message or tweet that "the mayor is checking out city hall for additional burglaries," you're going to check it out. Right?

I came across a tweet from an employee of First Baptist Church in Snyder today saying just that. In my head, I figured the church must have been broken into...and for some reason, the mayor of Snyder was checking to see if the same bandits broke into city hall.

Yikes....not so....

The dispatcher told us the twitter user in question was Jim Drake. Drake apparently takes part in a "game" of sorts on foursquare.com (this is the first I've heard of that site). On first glance, it looks like a social media version of "The Sims." Anyway, he's the mayor and his city hall is the church.

Confused? So was I!!!!

I would've kept this strange turn of event to myself, but then Drake decided to blog about it. Apparently, someone at the police station called to tell him about our message....and probably asked him to quit calling himself the mayor (and speaking in third person!).

I thought I'd share his blog post so you can see things from his side as well: http://jimdrake.blogspot.com/2010/05/mayor-will-see-you-now.html


The Next One-Tank Trip

As a producer you don't get to get away from the desk much. Most of our time is spent rewriting, editing, putting stories in order, and sifting through news stories. This weekend I went out with one of our reporters, Michelle Ashworth, and our meteorologist, Kailey Franz as they shot one of their upcoming stories.

They are doing a series on 'One Tank Trips' that are fun economical ways to get away, without going to far. I thought this was a great idea for many reasons...one being it is a way to see parts of Texas that many drive right past as they head out of state for a vacation destination. This trip was to Monahans Sandhills State Park, about 3 hours west of Abilene. I won't get into the details of the story, because then you wouldn't have a reason to tune in and check out what they have put together. I will say however that if you have not been to this place...it is amazing. Tune in to see a reporter and weather person sliding down sand dunes on boards, and getting into the camping spirit.

For me it was a great opportunity to see what the reporters do when they leave the station, and the hard work they put into that minute and a half we see on the newscast. I did some assignments in college covering stories, as well as during my internship, but it is always nice to be reminded of just what everyone else you work with really puts into the finished product.

Kailey and Michelle's story on Monahans Sandhills State Park will air Tuesday May 11th....and before that you can check out their 'One Tank Trip' stories from Glen Rose and Great Wolf Lodge HERE.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brandi's Babble



The Other Side Of My Job
First off, let me tell you that I wanted to blog about the "Backyardigans." I know, I know, but hear me out! I am the mother to two wonderful children, Jackie (3) and Wyatt (9 mos) the third one in this picture is Canon (2) my nephew. When I'm not at work, I am just a mom... But what many of you may not know is that I'm also "Mom" to about 25 anchors, reporters, producers, etc. I am the KTAB/KRBC Assignments Editor, which means I answer all of your calls, take messages, and most importantly, handle the days assignments.
My days start off with a big cup of coffee and a long to-do list. I dole out assignments to all of our reporters, inform anchors and producers about what they're shows will look like, and field phone calls from viewers and from our reporters about how they're assignments are panning out. I can frequently be heard sighing "I love life," which is usually when something big has fallen through and I'm responsible for breaking the news to those who are expecting that bit of news to be in their rundowns.
Aside from my job responsibilities listed above, I am also a support to anyone who needs it. Most often, our reporters are here in Abilene, far away from home, hoping to start a long career in the news business. That being said, sometimes they need a little motherly advice or a big hug on a hard day. I remember birthdays, ask how doctors appointments went, and am always making sure everyone is ok.
I have been known to cry about their hardships, and laugh at a funny story from their day. I get great joy from my job, because when I leave the one I love most (being Jackie and Wyatt's mom,) I get to come to work to be a surrogate to those who need one.

No, I don't have pot in the trunk!

I've been pulled over before. But twice in one day??? Twice in 10 minutes?! Unheard of!

On my way to North Texas yesterday for a doctor's appointment I passed several state troopers that had pulled over big rigs on I-20. And when I say several, I mean several!

I was highly annoyed (at myself) when, in Palo Pinto County, I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. I was fiddling with the A/C which had just decided to crap out on a 90-degree day and wasn't paying attention to my speed.

Trooper Beverage asked me to get out of my car and talk to him on the shoulder. He told me I was going 74. I get it, that's speeding, but really? 74? He asked where I was headed and then proceeded to ask me about my doctor's visit which made me very uncomfortable, because it was so personal. But he was nice. He then told me he was going to do a cursory check of my vehicle and poked around the outside for a time.

I have a little 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier, and the trooper greeted him. He then came back and asked if I was carrying any suspicious materials in my car, then rattled off a list: "Weapons, bladed, non-bladed, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, marijuana in the vehicle, cocaine, anything in the trunk, vicious animals..."

I started giggling and said, "Yes, I have a vicious animal in the car."

We laughed and he told me to be careful and let me go with a warning. I started to crumple up the warning and toss it into my little garbage bag but something told me to put it in the glove box with my insurance.

I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get pulled over is drive safely. Within just a few miles I got in the left lane to get around a few big rigs and as I came down a hill I spotted an unmarked car that looked like law enforcement. Of course I immediately slowed down, even though I wasn't really even speeding other than to pass the 18-wheelers. I watched my rear view mirror for a while, saw him enter the highway, and after a while I was certain he was following me and then saw the hidden lights start flashing.

I started laughing. Never, have I ever laughed when pulled over! I told him right away that I had just been stopped and he asked to see the warning ticket. Thank God I saved it! This trooper -- whose name escapes me but he said he's head of DPS in the Denton County headquarters -- told me I was being stopped for lingering in the left-hand lane which is reserved for passing only. Seriously?! He let me stay in the car, but did another check around the vehicle! When he asked me if I had a trunk full of marijuana I couldn't help but to dissolve into giggles.

He said they were working a drug operation along the interstate, although I don't remember exactly how he worded it. He was also a fan of my dog and asked why I didn't have him restrained. Normally I probably would have stammered out an excuse but I was still giggling at the bizarre situation I was in and just told him that Bossier wouldn't like it.

Good job, DPS! I really hope they busted some pot smugglers because they were sure putting a lot of effort into it.

On a more somber note, I spent the rest of my there-and-back trip driving so carefully and defensively, having been reminded these past two weeks about how dangerous and tragic unsafe driving can be.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rodney Holder

Officer Rodney Holder was a friend. I was a one-year veteran reporter at KTAB when Rodney entered the police academy in 1982. He was one of the young, fresh-faced kids signing up for the job of protecting and serving the community. I was assigned the story of this new academy. My first story was about the young men in the academy and specifically about a young woman who wanted to be an Abilene Police Officer. Sandy Mayberry was a pretty girl going through the rigorous training with Holder and the other hairy-legged men working to earn their commissions. I put the emphasis on the woman for that first report, partly because she was one of the first in the APD, and partly because she was prettier than they were. I had several occasions of dealing with Rodney Holder over the years of covering the police beat. Some cops don't like nosy news reporters very much. Rodney seemed to understand the importance of this job, and he was always gracious and easy to talk to. Rodney Holder seemed to like me. His easy-going smile made it easy to approach him at accident scenes and criminal investigations. I have always understood the importance of his job, and I tried to treat him with the respect he earned with the badge. He seemed happiest at parades where he and the other motorcycle cops led the procession. I knew him well enough to speak when we were both in our jeans and tee-shirts away from the job. It's always a shock when someone you know and respect dies...especially someone so genuine, gracious and committed. The jobs of police officer and a news reporter can be adversarial at times, but neither of us let that happen. I will miss him.

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Been Real, Abilene!


To set the mood, you should probably be playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey in the background.

Ready? Alrighty then...

Most of you don't know me because I work behind the scenes of KTAB, so will you truly care about this blog? Highly unlikely. Either way, I'll start by saying that my name is Hope and I'm from Baltimore (that's a pretty busy city up north somewhere). My family moved to Texas in my teen years, so I lived in the Dallas area for a while (kind of a slower pace of life than Baltimore).

When I graduated, I moved out to Abilene to start my career as a TV producer. I had NO IDEA where this city was until I had an interview here, so I was not expecting very much when I moved here. (It also didn't help that I was a city girl moving out to the country).

In my several months in Abilene, I must say this city has proved me wrong. Who knew Abilene had a mall and a Wal-mart? But the most memorable thing about this city is how nice everyone is. It's not that "well bless your heart" mess that bigger southern cities practice. It's a genuine "I'm nice because I dont' know how else to act."

Everywhere I went, someone would spark up a conversation or want to help me out. I could never go to a store to "grab something real quick" because the cashier would always hold me up to give a personal product review of whatever I was buying. Even when I went to the movies, another moviegoer asked if I wanted something from the concession stand because she was headed that way. Are you serious? In Baltimore, I'd be lucky if that lady gave me eye contact.

So as nice as this place has been to me, I must be moving on to the next city. I'm headed out to start another producing position in Waco. I guess that means I'm moving to a slightly bigger place, but that doesn't mean I could ever forget about Abilene. It wasn't home, but it was still good to me.
The people, the coworkers, the tranquility...couldn't ask for a better place to make my start. Now that I'm leaving, I just want to say thanks for the stay and welcoming me so warmly.

So farewell, all! And who knows....this may not be the last you hear of me ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Apple?


I really don't understand what the big deal is about Apple. Their products aren't that great and they're way overpriced. Take a look at the new iPad. What's really new about it? The touch screen has been around for 70 years. Yes, its improved a lot and yes you can do a lot more with it, but what's the point. What does multi-touch really do for you? Does it really do anything to improve efficiency. Are you going to work faster because you have multi-touch technology? All the stupid little things that Apple says to sound amazing and innovative (like multi-touch) aren't very useful, While the copy and paste features that's been around forever, was just added to the iPhone operating system. A large reason Apple does so well, is due to their "Fan Boy" base.

All I ask, is that you do a little research before you buy. Companies like Apple thrive off people buying their products without looking at other options. You can get a lot more, for a lot less, if you shop around and research.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Double-Cross the Double-J!



Take a look at this picture. That monster of a building is Cowboys Stadium. I've stood before it, albeit only from the outside. It's intimidating. And it cost $1.3 billion (give or take a few hundred mil) to build.

My question to you is this: would you mess with the guy who had it built? The guy who, as has been explained to stadium tourists, has his own private pod high above the field, so he can watch the game with his brain-trust without being seen by TV cameras? A guy who could, y'know, probably buy and sell you and everyone you've ever met?

That's exactly what an anonymous person recently did, in the form of a cell phone at a bar. And in doing so, that brave(/drunken?) American opened up several cans of ethically-questionable worms.

Let's set the scene: our unnamed friend is hanging at a bar when, lo and behold, Jerry Jones pops up in front of him. He just spent a long, grueling day counting his money, and wants to kick back with an adult beverage or three. More power to 'em. This is America! You should be able to kick back, have a drink, and do an embarrassing karaoke version of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (What, you've never done that? Well... neither have I. And you can't prove otherwise).

But if you're the Double-J, the rules of engagement are different, like it or not. So our friend whips out the video phone and catches Jerry talking a little smack on some easy targets in the football world: former 'Boys coach Bill "The Tuna" Parcells, and Heisman winning quarterback/Focus on the Family spokesman Tim Tebow. The Tebow stuff was mostly fluff, but the Parcells bit had Jones basically admitting that he used the Tuna to barter for a new stadium. And as the above photo demonstrates, that worked, and then some.

Big deal, right? Right! The last time I checked, this is 2010. Something called the internet (which you're reading right now!) rules the information world. And, like it or not, websites exist to disseminate stuff exactly like Jerry's drunken spiel. So our cell phone toting friend tries to sell the video, only to find that it ain't that impressive. So, dude gives it to Deadspin.com, a sports blog notorious for edgy/offensive sports coverage (sample headline: "Target Field's Urinal Problem"). And even now, you can go to Deadspin and watch Jerry Jones say Coach Tuna helped get his team a new stadium, and isn't worth a s---, and that Tebow would never get on the field for Dallas, and yada yada yada. But it's what happens next that makes this whole sordid tale really interesting.

We've established that Mr. Jones has enormous clout, especially in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region. Virtually everyone knows him, and could pick him out of a crowd. Suffice to say, dude's pretty powerful. Now, put yourself in the position of the big, bad DFW news stations. You've got this video. It's out there. Everyone with a computer can watch it. Do you run it on TV? It's a tough question. You have to consider how powerful Jones is. Would running the video hack him off so much that he would have his organization cut your station off? What if you're KTVT, the "Official Station of the Dallas Cowboys"? Not such an easy decision, is it? Of the four major stations in the area, two ran it, two (including KTVT) did not.

One of th stations that ran it, WFAA, has a legendary, tenured, fairly old-fashioned, and extremely outspoken sportscaster. That man is Dale Hansen. And he did NOT like that his station ran the video. So, after some wrangling with station brass, he took to the airwaves and TRASHED his station's management, and the site that posted the video in the first place (which, by the way, is a separate blog in and of itself... Mr. Hansen used the tired line about bloggers being Cheeto-eating nerds in their moms' basements, failing to mention that Deadspin is owned by Gawker Media, just like WFAA is owned by Belo, a company whose aim is to make money. But hey, don't let that get in the way of trashing those low-life bloggers!)

All this got the newsroom (read: me) thinking: would a similar situation play out like this in Abilene? If we got, say, a city councilperson, superintendent, or business owner drunk, then taped them saying outrageous things about their own institution, would we use it? Should we? Would you want to David Robinett get on Bigcountryhomepage Sports and rant about our decision to run it? Would you watch, especially if we said on KRBC News at 6, "Stay tuned, because coming up at 10, our sports guy is gonna tear this station's management a new one" (which, by the way, is more or less what WFAA did).

What would I do? Honestly, I don't know. We don't get many submissions from viewers who record city leaders while they're drunk and giddy-- much less billionaires who own the most valuable sports franchise in the United States. Gulp.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Basketball Days

CBS coverage of the NCAA Basketball tournament preempts KTAB Noontab two days each year. It's strange for the news department. It means two short work days and an easy week here in this third week of March. That's a welcome little break. Some of us haven't taken any time off since the Christmas holidays. Naps are great! On the other hand, we do news. We get paid to do news. We like to do news. It's important for us to do news. It's a little bit frustrating and confusing to be ready to do the news and not to have our usual access to the TV station to put on the news. As I write this, my day has actually been over for almost an hour, but I'm still here...looking for newsworthy information that I would be producing if we had a noon newscast today. I'm also a sports fan, and the first day of this year's tournament had a lot of upsets and big surprises. I guess I'll just go home and watch basketball with many of the rest of you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How I got on Wheel of Fortune

Category is... Headline:
Wheel of Fortune is holding open auditions this weekend in Dallas and Fort Worth! This blog has all the information you'll need if you're planning on hitting up the Dallas Convention Center on Saturday or Billy Bob's Texas on Sunday. Make sure you click that link, because it has really important information.

So, yes, 10 years ago I was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I don't really go around talking about it a lot because it makes for very fun trivia or an upper hand in ice breaker games where you have to say something unique about yourself. BUT, I'm armed with quite a bit of knowledge on the audition process, so I'll go ahead and share.

Be prepared to be blended in among the several thousand other people who will be there. The only people who actually get to audition in a speed-up round are those whose names are drawn via raffle. If you do get selected, they want people who first and foremost are good at the game. Practice playing hangman or find an online version of the game. Secondly, they really want people who will react loudly to winning. Clap, jump, yell, celebrate... But remember, it's not the Price is Right. They also want people with big personalities who aren't shy and won't clam up. Here's how it happened for me:

Category is... People
My college roommate and I had just met each other one month prior to the Best Friends Week Dallas audition at the University of North Texas, and she convinced me that we could sell ourselves as "best friends." I was more than excited about a shot at Big Money Big Money, because the group I was in had ambitiously pledged $100,000 to help build an infectious diseases clinic in Cameroon, and fundraising efforts weren't going so well. So, why not give a game show a shot?

I woke up early and stood in line outside the auditorium, while Best Friend Michelle took her time waking up, then lazily wandered to the center of campus and walked in to the auditorium. Thank God! She met one of the show's big wigs, Lisa Dee, and talked to her about what they were looking for in a contestant. Armed with this insider information, we were sure we had a shot.

Category is... Event
So we were shuffled into the auditorium, a few hundred people at a time, to watch the auditions. Before the lucky auditioners were selected, they asked the audience a few trivia questions and handed out prizes. Michelle and I knew one of the answers, grabbed each other's hand to form a big W, and got it right. We won hats, tshirts, a fanny pack (eek!) and a computer game, which came in handy for practice later. They did not choose us out of the big raffle basket, so we watched the auditions, but were happy that they had noticed us in the audience. While we were watching, we drew a picture of ourselves doing a victory dance with Lisa Dee calling us to tell us we had been selected. We wrote down every single possible piece of contact information, and Michelle ran up at the end to hand Lisa the paper. We felt like SUCH cheaters, but just knew it would pay off!

Category is... Before and After
We waited on pins and needles for the callback. They gave us a window of time, but I don't recall how long after the initial audition that was. Then it happened. The contestant coordinator called and invited us to the callback audition! We practiced our victory dance, played hangman and our new computer game during every piece of free time, and showed up at the final audition. There were about 35 sets of friends there. We were briefed on ALL the strict rules and regulations, then given a test. Both partners had to pass the test in order to move on. This part made me nervous, because Michelle was the one with the personality, but I was the one with the Super Puzzle-Solving Skills. But, she passed. Everyone who passed played a mock game, complete with a little wheel and interviews about who you are, where you're from, and why you're best friends.

We must have done well because a few days later, Michelle's extra-large cell phone rang. We were headed to Dallas for the show.




So, here's the video. You may wonder why I'm alone, and that's definitely not a Dallas background. But this blog is about the audition process, not the twists and turns and drama that came after that :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

To tip or not to tip

"Gratuity" is a nice word. It means you're grateful. But how much does a thank you cost?

Grocery stores -
I've never noticed people tipping the bag carriers until recently. Are you supposed to? I know at some grocery stores they'll tell you they're not allowed to accept tips. And at some stores, they'll insist on taking your groceries out because they have to be the ones to return the carts. I don't want to seem rude for never having done it before, but I guess I was never told to!

Restaurants - What if you get bad service? I waited tables for about 5 years and definitely feel compelled to tip at least 15%, even if service isn't good, because I know what kind of crud they have to deal with.

Starbucks, Cold Stone, etc - I never tip at these places either. Should I? I don't hand money to friends and acquaintances who treat me nicely. What's the protocol for tipping here?

Sonic -
What about car hops? One of my good friends put herself through college and financed two different cars while working at Sonic. She made about $7 an hour (which was WAY more than minimum wage at the time) and would go home with $60-$100 on a good night.

Buffets - I have no idea how much to tip at, say, Zookini's or one of those places where you do have a waiter but pretty much do all of the "work" yourself. Thoughts?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How NOT to get a job

Everybody knows that in this job market, you have to stay competitive.

Recently, several members of the newsroom attended a broadcast seminar with various workshops that helped us get ideas and tools to better ourselves. The day ended with a workshop on How Not to Get a Job.

We all sat in the back of the classroom. Don't judge us. All of us except for Hope, who took the notes that helped me write this blog. Yup, she's a note-taking, front row kind of girl.

Here are 10 tips on how to (and how NOT to) land the job you want. It's written for people looking for jobs in the broadcast industry, but these really apply to people in many professional fields.

Write a custom cover letter. Using a template shows lack of creativity, and it can often lead to an error if you forgot to fill in the blank somewhere. I suppose here we should talk about SPELLING the hiring manager's name correctly! During his last semester of college, my husband accidentally added an extra letter to a news director's last name, and she told him that she very well may have considered him for the job... if it weren't for that dang T.

Use a professional e-mail address. I'm glad this was included in the workshop. What boss wants to see an email from hugsnkisses99@bigdaddy.com? YourName@domain.com is probably not that hard to claim. And don't send an email from your current work address! They don't want someone who obviously uses company time and resources to look for a different job.

Follow instructions in the ad. If it says no calls, don't call. However, if you are applying for a reporter job, it could show that you're aggressive and a go-getter. The panelists seemed split on this one. It's always a good idea to get in contact with someone who works at the station/company to find out what the boss is like and what they will and will not tolerate from candidates.

Be honest about who you are and what you can do. I'll be up-front with an employer and tell them what my challenges are and what I'd have to work on if I were ever asked to move into a different position. (Like how I worded that? Challenges? I'm good.) Also, you could ruin your reputation if you fib in the interview about your strengths and fail to deliver in the job.

Be careful about what you say, and know your audience. I don't know about your business, but this one we're in is TINY. There are probably only 2-3 degrees of separation in the local news business, and you never know what will get repeated or compared among former (or future) colleagues. And joke cracking might not be a good idea, especially if you're prone to sarcasm like me.

No gimmicks, no gifts. Translation: confetti=bad. While I totally agree with this one, I did include a fortune cookie message with a cover letter one time. I got the job. Maybe in spite of my gimmick. I should ask about that. (I just asked, and my old boss said he thought it was odd. And then he made a comment about my hiring date being one of the darker days in station history. See "know your audience" above.)

Google yourself! Hm... I hope I don't have any spelling errors in this blog. Anyway, assume news directors will do their own research. The first step could be to privatize your Facebook. Sometimes my husband (the cute guy in the glasses) will add a potential candidate as his Facebook friend to see what they are like and who they know in common. So even if you do have it set to private, be ready to have it seen. Also, if you have your very first experience in front of the camera posted on YouTube, take it down! How is anyone supposed to know whether or not you've improved since then?

Dress like a professional and dress appropriately for the job you’re applying for. 'Nuff said.

Do NOT trash current or former employers. A few of us took an interview candidate to lunch last year and she complained about her old job the whole time. I was slightly tempted to egg her on just to see how unprofessional she would get, but that would not have been gracious. She did not get the job. If you're mindful of your words, you can spin your experiences in a positive way, even if you are coming from the worst job in the world. And some of you probably are.

Ask good questions in your interview. You are interviewing the company, too! Come prepared. Have a list of questions on paper. It makes you look like you're more engaged and more eager to get started.

Any more questions? I've gone through the job search process in this business four times, and I'm married to the guy who does the hiring, so I can probably help you out. Just comment, or email sweetcheeks@... Just kidding. Lkellerman@ktab.tv.

Friday, February 12, 2010

School Closings 101

I figure I'll take the opportunity to explain how our school closings alert system works, brag on it a little bit, and rant a little bit.

(My rant is about the incessant callers who are too impatient. More on that later.)

School districts must give us their assigned pin number before we report the schedule change. It's very secure.

(Aside: a couple years ago, a Dallas station got a phone call that DISD was closing. The call apparently had DISD on caller ID. It was fake. Half the kids stayed home. Epic fail.)

We enter the information directly into the tickers that you see at the bottom of the screen and the tickers automatically populate our website. That gives you three ways to find out about school closings: instantly on the web (don't have to wait for alphabetical order) or flip back and forth between KTAB and KRBC and one of them will be closer to your school than the other. Less waiting time.

(Speaking of waiting, this is the most adorable video ever!)

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.

Anyway, we are extremely proud of our efficiency and accuracy of our school closings systems.

Now to my rant.

On days like today, from about 5:30 to 6:30 a.m., the phone rings off the hook. Schools, day cares, businesses, organizations... everyone calls to let us know what their plans are for the day and asks us to announce them. Awesome. That's why we are here. BUT our phone is constantly tied up by people who are too impatient to wait for the news. So we repeat over and over and over, "Hello? No, AISD has not yet informed us of their decision." "Hello? No, AISD has not yet informed us of their decision."

Then AISD calls. Within 90 seconds we have it online, on the tickers, and the anchors on both stations are saying it out loud exactly every 5 minutes. We then spend the next 30 minutes saying, "Hello? Yes, AISD has delayed two hours." "Hello? Yes, AISD has delayed two hours."

In the time it took you to look up our phone number, call, go through the automated line to get to us, we've probably said it it on air and run it across the ticker. Patience, people! The fact that they're calling us means they know who we are. We are a television station. TURN ON YOUR TV!

(That's my rant. I'm not really mad. Just trying to be funny. Sort of.)

Enjoy your shortened Friday!

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