Archive for July, 2006

Bloopers on TV

July 27, 2006

Scott McGrewWhen I was growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there was a TV station that would collect its on air gaffes and bloopers and show them all on the newscast on New Year’s Eve. I can remember we kids – gathered in the basement while our parents socialized upstairs – would watch and laugh uproariously.

I haven’t worked at a TV station that actually airs its mistakes (a second time, anyway), but I found these TV bloopers on Salon.com. Check them out, they’re pretty funny.

As documented on our station’s talent biography page on the web site, my first blooper came on my first day as a TV reporter in small town Georgia.

Often reporters are placed in front of a camera in the newsroom to deliver their reports. Why, I’m not exactly sure. I suppose its to lend some sort of immediacy to the whole thing — as if we’re working hard on our reports and are “checking for the very latest.” Frankly, the studio is usually only a few feet away, so we could just as easily join the anchor in the studio.

At any rate, I was asked to deliver one of those reports on my first day on the job. I was well trained in college to handle these sort of things, so I was not at all nervous. I did, however, want to make sure I was presentable, so I fidgeted a bit with my tie.

I waited for my turn to come up — watching a small color TV just below the camera placed there for just that purpose. The news had apparently not yet started, as Oprah was still on TV.

What I didn’t know was someone had tuned the TV away from our channel. This is a big no-no in a newsroom, as someone such as myself might not realize the monitor was not showing our air.

Which I didn’t. And so.. when I asked “is my tie straight?” I was doing so ON AIR.

“We go now live to the newsroom to check with Scott McGrew, who is monitoring the story for the very latest.”

“Is my tie straight?”

“That was Scott McGrew, live in the newsroom.”

So there’s my blooper. That very same day, I managed to misunderstand something in the breakroom that would come back and haunt me months later.

As part of my orientation, I was given a short tour by the news director who took me into the break room for a cup of coffee. He opened the latch on the small coffee vending machine and pressed a button inside to fill two cups.

Six months later, the general manager caught me filling my coffee cup the same way.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked.

I thought that was just how you were supposed to do it — it turns out I was supposed to put a dime in the slot.

Of course, this was the same station where – a few days before I arrived – the consumer reporter was promoted to assistant news director but because of the small staff, she temporarily KEPT her job reporting on consumer issues.

No one told me she worked both jobs. Being new, I was polite and didn’t ask the consumer reporter why she kept asking to read the stories I wrote before they went on air. I thought she was trying to learn how to write or something.

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Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

“Escaping” (Hiding From) the Heat

July 25, 2006

Tom F. StilwellLet’s start off with some introductions. I’m one of the morning producers here at NBC11. I generally only come out of my cave to work. That way, you can sleep through all the events happening overnight and wake up to watch them with us. However, that pesky sun has other ideas.

It is 7:00 Monday night now. It is 93° INSIDE my house. I’m sure most of you feel my pain because I’m pretty certain I ran into about 10% of the Bay Area’s population throughout the weekend.

Saturday, fellow overnight producer, John Peck, had a fantastic idea. Let’s beat the heat and escape to the coast. Off we go. We took Page Mill Rd. from the Peninsula all the way to the coast. (It turns into Alpine Rd. when it meets Skyline and later into Pescadero Rd.) It is not for the faint of heart. It is a wandering, crooked road that follows the edge of a mountain. However, it is gorgeous. It even passes a secluded patch of Redwoods before you connect with Highway 84 (La Honda Rd) to drive the last couple of miles to the ocean. Magnificent.

As we approach San Gregorio beach, we see a line of parked cars… at least a half-mile back. If a beach can be crowded beyond capacity it is. We turn North towards Half Moon Bay for lunch. Every beach we pass has a full parking lot and cars parked out on the highway. It would seem everyone has driven to the coast. We end up at a restaurant at Pillar Point Harbor. In the morning at my East Bay home, my temperature gauge read 110°. At lunch when I park… 73°!!! What a great place to live. In an hour, I’m on the beach!

We ended up at Pescadero State Beach. John traversed the rocks. I figured out the ocean water is cold!

Then came the Sunday extravaganza. I slowly started to figure out that sleeping during the day would be a tough sell this week. I decided to cave in and buy a portable air conditioning unit. It was obviously not a unique idea.

I drove to the biggest warehouse electronics store. As I’m walking in, I watch one, two, three, four, uh oh, five people walk out with exactly what I’m hoping to buy. Inside, there was a line of at least 30 people with shopping carts. Big trouble. I ask someone in line, and they say there may be 4-5 units left. They’re in line hoping to outlast everyone else. I ended up driving to at least five different stores. Every single one of them was sold out. I gave up when the salesman at a Ma & Pa store said they heard A/C was sold out in the entire Bay Area. Heck, the grocery store was even sold out of ice.

So, here I am. Waiting for the sun to fall, the mercury to dip and a cold wave to come through. Remember when the rain made for a very destructive, wet winter? (Rain, Rain, Go Away! Blog) Rain, rain, please come back.

If you’ve got some great photos of how you’re beating the heat click here to submit them to NBC11.com. And you can find some tips to survive the heat here.

Tom Stilwell
NBC11 Producer

Star Encounter

July 20, 2006

Brent CannonLaura and I were recently on assignment in New York. I always enjoy the Big Apple. There is so much going on; the people, the food, the lights Broadway. You never know who you might run into. Laura and I saw people from the Bay Area, but sometimes you see big stars too. I love Central Park – and we were walking through one afternoon when we had a brush with fame. We came up a set of stairs and found several people standing around. In New York, you never know what the commotion might be over. But as we rounded the corner, there was Vanessa Williams. Laura had our digital camera and started shooting. I’m pointing to Vanessa in one picture – and you can see a close-up in another.

Brent & Vanessa Williams Vanessa Williams in Central Park Vanessa Williams in Central Park

She was in the middle of a shoot for a new film. Laura and I stuck around for a moment to watch. We didn’t want to bother Ms. Williams while she was in the middle of work, but I asked one of the crew about the film. He said it is called “Who Needs ‘Em?” – about a couple who breaks up. The crew member did not know if it will be a made for TV movie or on the big screen. He said it is an independent film right now and they are not only shooting – but they are also in negotiations for release – and that will determine where we might see it. But keep an eye out for Vanessa Williams and “Who Needs ‘Em?” In a few more days, I’ll be able to share details about the work Laura and I were doing in N.Y.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

No Baby Yet

July 20, 2006

Shannon O'DonnellViewer e-mail to NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist John Farley:
Dear John, I haven’t heard anything about Shannon’s baby. What’s the news? Send her our love and best wishes from the Brady Bunch in Novato. Mrs. B.


So… no baby yet! We’ve received various e-mails into the weather center like the one above, and I’m embarrassed to answer them as people are obviously thinking I’ve long since had the baby by now. I know it’s looked like I’ve been ‘about to pop’ now for months on end, but I’m actually not due for another couple of weeks…! I’m not sure why I look so big, as I’ve honestly only gained 23 pounds as of last week’s doctor appointment (with my first pregnancy I gained almost SIXTY! Most of which came on as massive quantities of water weight in the final weeks of pregnancy, making for very uncomfortable rhinoceros-style ankles a la Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the movie ‘Shallow Hal’), but standing at only 5’2″ probably doesn’t help (I usually fib and say I’m 5’3″, but realize that in trying to explain my current wider-than-I-am-tall state-of-being, it is in my best interest to divulge my actual height). And you know, that whole ‘camera adds 10 pounds’ thing. Ack, I don’t know! For some reason I’ve looked nine months pregnant for about seven months now.

At any rate, I DO still work here at NBC. I’ve moved from the morning newscast for now, and am instead working weekends until I go on full maternity leave. I went into ‘early labor’ during the morning shift in mid-June, and with contractions coming every 3 minutes for a few hours, my doctor (and especially, my very over-protective HUSBAND) thought it best that I take a break from getting up at 3 am (usually on just four or five hours of sleep–our toddler is a bit of a night owl). However, I was able to talk everyone into letting me come back just a few nights a week, which made the weekend shift the perfect fit for now. The baby is doing just fine, and the contractions are now few and far between.

I definitely miss the crazy, fun, non-stop pace of the morning shift, and look forward to returning to that schedule in the fall. In the meantime, thanks for the well-wishes, and I’ll blog again soon, baby-or-not!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

P.S. You know how I blogged last time about that Mommy-group gal who claimed that I was ‘pregnant all the time’…well, who did I run into at my beloved Coffee Bean (yes, I had decaf, thanks for checking) on Fillmore after my last doctor appointment…?! Can you believe it? Here she probably innocently thinks she can mention my ever-pregnant state to a group of gals without it coming back to her, and I (maybe NOT so innocently) believe I can blog about her commenting on it…and as fate would have it, we meet a week later. I think we were both mutually embarrassed for ribbing the other one, never knowing that we’d actually bump into one another. Anyway, we had a nice laugh and hug over it–hilarious!

Memes: It’s Not A Truck

July 18, 2006

Scott McGrewWebster’s says a meme (pronounced “meem”) is “an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Think “the tribe has spoken” or “you’re fired.” Those are from TV, of course. The Internet also spreads memes, like “I kiss you!”, referring to a strange web site that sprung up in the late 90’s.

The latest Internet meme deals with Senate testimony from Alaska’s Ted Stevens, who in attempting to explain to his fellow Senators how the Internet works, said:

“I just the other day got, an Internet [we presume he means e-mail] sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.”

Stevens was arguing over network neutrality, a move for (or against, depending on your position) creating a “two tiered” system of data streams over the Internet. We’ll leave the discussion as to whether that’s a good thing for a later post. Back to the odd Mr. Stevens.

“The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.”

Now, anyone who knows anything about the Internet knows this is not true — not the “get in line” part. His assesment of the Internet as “a series of tubes” is about right, though we usually call them pipes. And no, it’s not a truck.

Nonetheless, the Senator’s odd ramble has gotten a lot of attention; it’s turned into a meme.

There are power point presentations, song (press play) and a video. The video is the best.. you owe yourself to click on it.

You’re welcome to comment on this story.

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But please, no attachments because, as you well know, the Internet is not a truck.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Space Cadet

July 17, 2006

Bob RedellLike every kid, it’s always been my dream to grow up to be Yuri Gagarin. But recently, that dream was crushed. When I heard that the Chabot Space and Science Center was moving its Russian Soyuz Space Capsule to the USS Hornet for display and restoration, I thought ‘Wow, this will be cool. I’ll get to hang out in a Russian space capsule.’

But it was so small, I was lucky I was not ‘hanging out’ of that thing.

Inside Russian Soyuz Space Capsule Bob Inside Capsule

It’s hard to imagine what it was like to be crammed in that steel ball with two other Cosmonauts for missions that sometimes lasted 4 days.

Russian Soyuz Space Capsule Soyuz Computer

The computers your life depended upon had less computing power than Pong.

And oh yeah, I’m told that during the first missions, Russia didn’t install…uh…What’s that thing called? Oh yeah – life support. So if you started hearing hssssss…. well, there was no putting on a space suit with its own oxygen supply. There were also explosives rigged behind each seat so when the capsule parachuted to Earth, the charges would shoot your seat forward to help absorb the impact. To me, that’s nuts. All I gotta say is: Cosmo…Not! On a side note: after we finished our live report, the capsule moving crew showed up…in bunny suits.

Capsule Moving Crew Arrives in Safety Suits

I was like ‘What’s with the bunny suits?’ ‘Uh – the lead paint and whatever else is in there.’ ‘Oh. Really?’ It’s not like I wanted to live ‘that’ long.

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

Stop, Look & Listen

July 7, 2006

Mike Inouye We live in a very fast paced world, and live news is a profession that focuses on seconds rather than minutes. You can get really caught up in things if you don’t make an effort to notice the world on which we’re reporting, though.

I recently did a story on GeoCaching for our big Fourth of July fireworks special. To describe GeoCaching as a modern day treasure hunt is a little inaccurate but probably the closest analogy one can give. (Click here to see my first adventure.)

You need to find a general area, then find the “cache” which could be hidden in virtually anything there. You have to look for things that are out of the ordinary or ordinary things that could serve as hiding places. A tree is no longer just a tree, and even a strawberry could be a faking you out (see photos for examples.)

What I got from this experience was a little glimpse of my everyday world in a slightly different way. It reminded me that you don’t have to go very far to see something new, sometimes you just have to stop, look and listen to see the same things in a different way.

Hey, I had such a great time doing the hunt that I’m now going to do a hide (with the help of veteran GeoCachers “Marky and Joani”.)

We’ll be hiding an NBC11 snowglobe (like the one pictured here) somewhere in the South Bay very soon. It will be a “travel bug” so we can track its travels… potentially around the world! Keep checking the
Traffic section of our site for more GeoCaching fun…

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Hooked on Fly Fishing

July 5, 2006

Brent CannonI like fly fishing. I used to go with my dad when I was a kid in Colorado in places like the Frying Pan River near Aspen. Back then it was no big deal. These days it an extremely popular gold medal river with all kinds of restrictions and limits.

As I grew up, I got away from fly fishing. I don’t know why. But a few years ago it hit me – I wanted to go again. And I caught the bug all over again. Seems more and more people are picking up the sport. I went to the Tahoe area with a friend of mine recently. He had never been before and wanted to learn. We spent a little time learning to cast – practicing in his backyard pool.

Finally, we got out to a ‘real’ river. We didn’t catch a thing. Not even a bite. The only bites we got were from mosquitoes. I have never seen mosquitoes like this before. Luckily, we had tons of “OFF” – but still. I looked at my buddy and his baseball cap was covered with ’em! They were
all over his shirt. And he was looking at me funny – and I instantly knew why. They were all over me too! All I could think of was the West Nile stories we do all the time. Anyway – we didn’t catch fish – but being on a real river with real conditions was a great benefit and learning opportunity for my buddy. Besides, I think the thing I like about fly fishing is not only catching fish – but just being out there.

Being out in nature – hiking in – discovering new places – seeing amazing wildlife. If you don’t catch anything, it is still a good day. The next day we went to one of my more favorite places. Of course, most fishermen don’t give their secret places away to the masses, so I can’t tell you where we went. This time we were in luck from the beginning. I had a fish on on one of my first casts. And the next thing you know, my buddy had netted his first trout caught fly fishing. In fact, you might say he was hooked more than the fish.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

4th of July Fireworks (and fear)

July 3, 2006

Laura Garcia CannonBrent and I get to stay up and broadcast much later than our usual 5am start time when we get out of the box and out in the public this week for the 4th of July Fireworks Show at San Jose’’s America Festival for Independence. It’’s always a lot of fun. This will be our fourth year hosting the kickoff to the fireworks show live at 9pm. It’s great because it will give you the chance to catch a little behind the scenes action of what a live broadcast looks like while getting a front row seat to the event! (It will also be broadcast at 9:00pm on NBC11 if you want to watch from the comfort of your home.)

Sitting directly under the fireworks is incredible. It makes me feel like a little kid again when you’re terrified the fireworks are actually going to land on you. America Festival for IndependenceWhy is that such a childhood fear? I guess seeing flaming sparks flying down out of the night sky after thunderous explosion-like sounds makes for a bit of fear… it’’s always a bit alarming with all the oohs and ahhs from the crowd too. You’’re thinking, ok I should be loving this, but holy cow I’’m going to catch on fire!!! I would just hold my Mom’’s hand a little tighter and hope the event was over soon and we in fact would have more than a shell of a burned out car to drive home in. I guess it was all those warnings to not play with fire that put the fear in me. I’’ll try not to show that fear on the air on Tuesday night, but because you just read this, you’’ll know what to look for. A big indicator will be if I’m holding Brent’’s hand at the end of the show with the look of a deer in the headlights in my eye.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor