Got any Green Tips?

I’ve recently taken over the “Green Tips” podcast at work, and would appreciate hearing any and all of your favorite tips for being environmentally friendly! Leave them in the comments.

If you’d like to hear the podcasts yourself, they air twice a day on weekdays (I believe), and you can find them all online here.

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What is the Internet, anyway?

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An embarrassing moment as a Video Journalist…

It was actually the SUV I was driving, not the live truck, but you get the idea.

I’m not sure why I’m sharing this story, other than it popped in my head the other day and gave me a little giggle. Not a full on LOL, mind you, but a light GOL. It’s not even my most embarrassing moment working in television news, or even that embarrassing at all.

But I find it amusing, and it speaks to the perils of being a one-man-band; juggling all your gear and driving from story-to-story by yourself.

It all started when I drove to a local Santa Rosa movie theater to cover one story or another (I don’t remember! It was either about the premier of a local documentary on fishing in Sonoma County, or it was at that point in down economy that the “Movie Theaters as a Staycation” story was hitting the news cycle hard).

In any case, I was outside the theater waiting for the management to arrive and getting some establishing shots of the theater when I heard an obnoxious car alarm going off. It was seriously ruining the NATs, and it was going on, and on, and on. I assumed it belonged to someone dining in the nearby restaurant, which was on the other side of the movie theater, and wondered why nobody was going outside to turn it off. It just continued to drone on: “beep… beep… beep…”

And then I saw a man approaching me in the distance. I was pretty sure he was one of the diners. As he neared he asked, “Are you TV50?”

“Yes,” I said, looking sideways at my camera and tripod.

“Your car alarm has been going off for a while.”

Oh. The beeping car that had been annoying me and everyone around me for a good ten minutes was the station vehicle! It was on the other side of the movie theater, the same side as the restaurant, so it was out of my line of sight.

It was obvious what had happened. When I was trying to juggle the camera, tripod, mic, XLR cable, and papers, I jammed the keys in my pocket, which triggered the “panic” button on the key fob.

I fumbled with the key fob and turned off the alarm, giving everyone’s ears a much-needed rest.

Little did I know my fob-fumbling unlocked the cargo gate on the station SUV.

When the shoot was done, I put the gear in the back seat and started on the drive back to the station. It was a very short drive, but on some of downtown Santa Rosa’s busiest streets. And the tailgate started opening. Slowly, it just kept creeping up. By the time I was just a couple of blocks from the station, the rear gate of the door was all the way up, giving all the drivers behind me a front-row seat to the back of our SUV. There was nothing to see, but I’m sure everyone was thinking what an airhead I must be to not know my rear door was up. You see, my mom had the same car, but it was a much older version. Hers only opened from the window up. This one, the entire rear cargo door was for most part opened up, meaning drivers could not only see the floor , but there was a huge tailgate towering over traffic behind me.

Needless to say, I made it back to the station ok, and in time to share my airhead story with my co-workers.

Posted in bloopers, broadcasting, elisha, Misc, SoCo, tv, TV news, video journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tips For Calling Traffic Tiplines

There’s a reason radio traffic reporters often give out the tip line when giving traffic reports: we want you to call! We realize you have so many other things to do. Not to mention here in California, driving while dialing is illegal (so make sure you have a headset). But trust me when I tell you that I, as a traffic reporter, and especially your fellow motorists, appreciate the first-hand information. If the CHP is telling me an accident is one direction, but a driver calls in and tells me it’s actually the opposite direction, I always trust the caller first.

That being said, there’s a couple of tips I would like to offer:

ALWAYS call First Responders first.
This should be a given, but you’d be surprised. I once had a breathless caller tell me I needed to call someone, *now*. She was shocked by the extreme nature of the accident she had just seen. I tried explaining to her that she should instead call the Highway Patrol, but before I could tell her why, she repeated that I needed to call an ambulance and hung up.

Had she stayed on the line, I would have informed her that she is in a much better position than I to get CHP and ambulance crews to the scene of the accident. She knows where she is and can describe the nearest landmarks, answering dispatcher questions. She can follow the instructions of the dispatcher and possibly save an accident victim’s life. She can give the dispatcher first-hand information.

Luckily, the accident the woman thought was a major-injury accident turned out to be a non-injury accident. But when we’re talking about life and death situations, you can’t really play around. I don’t blame her; I think the poor caller was slightly in a state of shock at witnessing the accident, and probably thought traffic reporters are in direct contact with emergency responders and can contact them faster (we aren’t and we can’t). 

There are a couple of obvious exceptions to the “always call first responders first” rule. If you already see first responders on the scene, then obviously CHP has gotten the word. And of course I don’t expect you to call the Highway Patrol when you see a non-injury accident that drivers are handling 911 calls on their own. In either case, we’ll appreciate any and all tips you can give us in order to help other drivers navigate around the safely around the scene, and keep the emergency personal and accident victims safe.

Be patient.
If you just tuned it and I haven’t mentioned your accident or slowdown after one traffic report, please be patient. Here in the Bay Area things can get messy, and that’s putting it mildly. We have the Bay Shore Freeway and the East Shore Freeway, Ignacio Blvd. in Marin County (pronounced ig-NAW-see-oh) and Ygnacio Valley Blvd. in Walnut Creek (pronounced ig-NAY-see-oh). And that’s not counting BART, MUNI, Caltrain, VTA, AC Transit, you get the idea. I’m not saying this to make you feel sorry for me as a traffic reporter, I say it to remind you that as crummy as your commute feels, chances are there’s a motorist in any one of the other nine Bay Area counties who feels the same way. So, I need to be fair, and with most traffic reports having a time limit of a minute long, I can’t get to all of the problems. Many of us try to rotate through. So if you don’t hear your accident, don’t assume we don’t know about it (especially if there are still CHP crews on the scene) or don’t think it’s a problem. We know it is, we’re just trying to be fair. That being said, you’re still always welcome to call and ask us what’s going on instead of waiting until the next traffic report. I do this to my co-workers all the time.

The Bottom line
Whether your favorite station calls you their phone force or their traffic tipsters, you’re an important part of traffic reporting. Your calls are appreciated, and I know firsthand how frustrating it can be sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, so rest assured my colleagues and I are doing what we can to keep you updated. Be kind to your fellow motorists and follow the laws, and hopefully you can avoid being part of the next traffic report.

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P.S.: I prefer calling 1-800-TELL-CHP instead of 911 for slightly less urgent calls, such as debris in the roadway.

Posted in broadcasting, Misc, radio, traffic, tv, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Danza the Diva

Tony Danza deserves so much than local news as he promotes his Oscar-winning epic, ummmm… wait, Tony Danza’s been in movies?

Posted in bloopers, broadcasting, Misc, tv, TV news, video, viral, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spin a yarn…

What do Deborah Norville and I have in common? If you guessed we’re both talented, successful TV journalists and news broadcasters, you’re… wrong! I wish.

In fact, we both love to knit.  I was more than a little suprised to see a line of Deborah Norville yarn at the fabric store today. I didn’t purchase any– I have skeins and skeins to knit through from my recently deseased Grandmother’s yarn shop she used to own.

Debbie joins another TV personality in the yarn-hawking game. I noticed some time ago Vanna White has her own line of yarn as well.

Posted in crafts, knitting, Misc, tv, TV news | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments