Archive for September, 2007

Interviewing an Angel

September 28, 2007

Laura Garcia Cannon

Charlies Angels was a hit show in the 80’s… I can’t remember what grade I was in when it was on, 3rd? 4th? But I do remember coming to school and at recess someone would say, “Let’s play Charlies Angels!.” I always wanted to be Kelly Garrett. That was the character Jaclyn Smith played. Smart and pretty she always helped catch the bad guy in the end.

Never would I imagine one day I’d be interviewing the real Kelly. Jaclyn Smith was a guest on our 11 AM news yesterday. Beautiful as ever, she was was in San Francisco to talk about a program called Strength In Knowing. A breast cancer survivor, she is now on a mission to share information with other women about early detection, treatment and survival. If you think about it, cancer is such a personal struggle. It must not be easy to live such a public life when you’re battling something like cancer. Jaclyn Smith told me she went through it privately at first. Her main concern was fighting. She went through a lumpectomy and radiation. Luckily she won. Five years in remission and now her focus is to try to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Approximately 200,000 women are newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States every year. Age, family history and personal history are the most important risk factors. But you never know. Do monthly self breast exams and get regular checkups. Jaclyn told me she never found her lump, but thankfully a mammogram picked it up. Now she’s hoping others heed her warning and take their own health seriously.

Jaclyn Smith played an angel on TV… but now she’s playing a true angel helping others. I’d still play her on the playground anytime.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor


Revealing Promos

September 26, 2007

Brent Cannon

You might see our new morning newscast promos running these days. I hope they come across well. The way they are designed, we got to have a little fun and kind of joke around a little. They hopefully provide a tongue in cheek, behind the scenes perspective of the morning team. The promo folks wanted them to mirror the style of the NBC hit show “The Office.”

These promos also required us to act a bit. I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I have no experience at all when it comes to acting. It took several takes to shoot a particular scene. We had to deliver our lines with the right tone and demeanor, and the lighting had to be right, and the camera movement, etc. And then they would have us do it all over again, but this time in a different tone and demeanor. I have new appreciation for what real actors go through.

Anyway – it was fun to do and was a new experience for me. So, keep an eye out for them and I hope you enjoy them. Remember, they are all in fun.

We have dozens of behind the scenes pictures, and you can check them out by clicking here.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Shannon’s Scrapbook: Adventures in the Equatorial Pacific, Part I

September 19, 2007

Shannon O'Donnell

Before I ventured into the ‘lightweight’ TV side of the meteorology business, I was part of an atmospheric research team at the University of Washington known as the ‘

Mesoscale Group‘. Under the direction of Professor Robert Houze, the group has studied precipitation-producing clouds in the rainiest climates around the globe. As an undergraduate, I was mostly assigned the ‘bottom-feeder’ jobs that nobody else wanted to sift through…mostly editing endless amounts of radar data from various projects. But once in awhile I was invited to tag along on a research mission, the most uh, ‘memorable’ of which was a six week tour of the Equatorial Pacific.

Looking back at this experience, in some regards it can be filed under the ‘What was I thinking?’ category. Here I’d had the typical European-backpack-graduation-trip loosely planned out with some of my college girlfriends. But when the opportunity to hitch a ride on board the NOAA ship ‘Discoverer‘ came up, I jumped at the chance. A summer spent sunning on the deck of the government equivalent of a cruise ship…how bad could it be? Plus, I’d be handsomely paid with nowhere (other than the small onboard ‘store’ that sold t-shirts and candy bars) to spend my money, versus incurring loads of debt traveling through Europe. I figured I needed the boost to my bank account more than the coming-of-age American-in-Europe hostel experience. However, I would soon find out there was another price to be paid for my decision.

The trip started out as expected. I flew from Seattle to San Francisco to catch the ship, as the ‘Discoverer’ was docked at the Embarcadero. It was July–marine layer season–and I was awestruck by the beauty of the shallow, thick fog rolling under the Golden Gate like a woolly blanket, dropping the temps in the ‘City by the Bay’ by about 20 degrees in ten minutes (little did I know just how much I would be talking about this very sort of event as a Bay Area forecaster in a few years time!) On board the ship, I was shown to my ‘berth’, a tiny room with a bunk bed equipped with seat belts in case of rough seas! It became apparent that I wouldn’t be making too many female friends on my journey…of the roughly 150 people aboard, there were only a dozen women.

Life at sea had its challenges, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not get seasick. My stash of Dramamine went untouched. However, the gentle roll of the ship still had to be reckoned with…maintaining your balance while taking a shower or climbing the staircases was not easy, and a stroll on the ship’s treadmill was extra exercise as you had to struggle not to fall off not only the back, but the sides!

My main job aboard the ship was to launch radiosondes, a.k.a. ‘weather balloons’, every 2 to 3 hours. This meant I had to get up a few times a night to do a launch…I shudder to think of how careless I was, safety-wise, when doing the night-launches. The radiosondes were housed in an on-deck shack similar to a ‘portable’ (like the trailers you see on school campuses when they’ve run out of classroom space), so I had to go out on the deck in the PITCH black and kind of feel my way to the trailer. I’m sure I must have had a flashlight or something, but I don’t remember donning a life jacket when going out there. However, we DID have to practice getting into a lifesuit…here I am dressed as a giant orange pumpkin–ha ha, shark bait!) Had I somehow slipped overboard, I guess that would have been the end of it! At any rate, here is a pic of me performing a DAYLIGHT launch. That’s me in the bottom left corner, using the remote control to launch the balloon out of that big metal canister.

One of the main purposes of this particular cruise was to head out into the mid-Pacific and change the weather equipment perched atop floating buoys scattered along 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south. You see, commercial fisherman with not much better to do come along and ‘knock’ the equipment off for sport, so NOAA has to go out and re-outfit the buoys with new weather stations every so often… your tax dollars at work, right? To get to the buoys, you must be lowered on an 8 foot zodiac raft via a pulley system from the deck of the ship down into the swirling ocean waters below. Shark-infested waters? You bet. The buoys serve to set up ‘islands of life’ in that barnacles grow on their undersides, hence attracting small fish, which attract big fish, which attract…SHARKS! It took me the entire trip to get up the courage to ride along (I was the radiosonde girl, this terrifying task wasn’t what I’D signed up for, thank goodness), but I did go ahead and take the plunge in the zodiac. That’s me in the yellow hardhat in the middle, getting lowered into the water. I vividly remember the ocean looked like ‘moving terrain’ from that perspective…the waves are so massive out there. And you certainly do see sharks around the raft…mainly 6′ oceanic whitetips. Big enough for me!

Here I am on the bow of the ship (where is Leo DiCaprio?), somewhere near the beginning of the mission. At least it must be, because I’m still looking pretty smiley here. Little did I know about the, um, ‘adventures’ to come. Ever hear about what they do to navy novices upon crossing the equator? I’ll tell you about that next time. Plus, a fish tale to rival any of Brent Cannon’s in another blog to come.

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve

September 14, 2007

Mike InouyeAn indulgent piece of personal/professional info.

September is a significant month for both professional careers I currently have, live television news and live comedy.

The 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th of the month are all landmark dates in my news career, indelibly marked in my memory because of the events of 9/11.

Listed chronologically:

09/10/01 — A Monday. The first full day at KNTV NewsChannel 11. I joined as an Internet Reporter for our website. We were an “independent” station, affiliated with no major network, and I was running the web site solo as my manager headed out of town to visit family for a long weekend. She was scheduled to fly back on Wednesday, as I recall. (That means I’ve just passed my sixth anniversary with the team here at the station.

09/11/01 — A Tuesday. My second day in news. The attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon.

09/09/05 — A Friday. My first on-air appearance, sneaking into the Bay Area Today at 10am broadcast with a report on a major traffic accident affecting the Bay Bridge.

09/12/05 — A Monday. My first official day on-air for KNTV NBC11 News as Traffic Anchor. That means I’ve just passed my second anniversary on the NBC11 Morning News Team.

On a much lighter note, though, this weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the improvisational comedy team with whom I’ve been performing for the past decade;

ComedySportz San Jose.

I’ll be performing there this Saturday night at 7PM. I’ll be rusty, but I’ll be there.

Two seemingly polar opposites sharing the same week in my mental calendar.

Now, if only I could remember my wedding anniversary…

Just kidding, honey!

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Your Plan for This Weekend

September 13, 2007

Scott McGrewI think the news industry – and by that I mean everything from TV to newspapers to radio – could do a better job of telling me what’s GOING to happen and not just what HAS happened. Especially when it comes to interesting things to do and see around the area.

Have you ever had that happen to you? You watch the news and see a story about how the Barnum and Bailey Circus let everyone in free over the weekend and you missed it? Ever had a neighbor say “wow, were you at Marina Green Saturday? The Who was giving a free concert, and then out of nowhere, the Rolling Stones show up and start jamming along!” And you think “hey wait a second, why doesn’t anyone tell ME about this AHEAD of time?”

I bring this up because I’m taking the boys up to Reno this weekend, and thought instead of blogging about it AFTER, I’d clue you into what’s going on beforehand.


Reno Air Race has become a tradition for us. It’s a three day long race at the smaller airport just north of Reno (not the main international airport) where small planes of all shapes, sizes and speeds race in a circle around tall pylons. Some races might only be biplanes. Others are just jets. The “open” class mixes everyone up. Here’s a FAQ about the whole thing.

It’s a thrilling thing to watch – its probably far more dangerous than anyone lets on (certainly we keep my wife in the dark about it) but what a sight, to see a dozen airplanes flying wingtip to wingtip fighting for position. The best part is it’s still casual – not terribly corporate like the Indianapolis 500 or the Kentucky Derby. It really is a bunch of guys (and a few women) gathering in the desert to race airplanes. For an extra 10 dollars, you can buy a pit pass and walk amongst them as they work on their planes. Grab a hot dog, grab a seat in the stands (spring for a seat – general admission leaves you nowhere to sit) and watch the pilot you just met compete for first place. Between races, there’s entertainment like jet cars and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

This late in the game you’re unlikely to find good lodging in Reno itself, but we’ve always stayed at Squaw Valley anyway. Once you’re done with the races, it’s nice to get away to the peacefulness of Tahoe. Sunday we take tram to the top of the mountain and go swimming at the pool that no one knows about up there.

So go. The only qualification is you have to like airplanes. Find tickets at ticketmaster, sign up for willcall, or just go and buy tickets onsite (I promise they’re not going to sell out). Find a hotel through Squaw or something closer via Orbitz, and just go. Get an early start Saturday morning and you’ll be there by late morning. See the rest of the races on Saturday, and catch them again on Sunday. I’ll see you up there.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Persistence Pays Off

September 10, 2007

Brent Cannon

Scott mentioned his first job the other day during our morning newscast and it reminded me of my first job. In case you missed it, Scott says he worked at J.C. Penney.

When I became old enough to get a job, I wanted to work at the restaurant at a local country club. It had become a hot spot, and friends from high school who worked there were thrilled with the tips they could earn. Somebody told me they were taking applications – so I went to the office – met the manager – and filled out an application. When I finished, he said they didn’t have anything now, but check back in a few days. So, I did. Two days later, I drove over, and asked if they had anything (note, I did not call by phone – and e-mail had not been invented yet). He said he didn’t have anything, but check back later. I think he was giving me the polite rejection – but I was new to the employment game and took him literally. I showed up a few days later. I eventually went back 13 times! The last time he said, “I really have nothing, but anybody who is as determined as you and wants to work as badly as you seem to, can work for me any day. I will create a spot for you.”

I started as a ‘stocker.’ Essentially, I was the bus boy’s bus boy. The bus boy helped the waiter, and the ‘stocker’ helped the bus boy. I was the lowest of the low. I received no direct tips. Instead, the customer tipped the waiter, the waiter tipped the bus boys, the bus boys gave a couple of their dollars to me. And you know what – I didn’t care. I was making money and having fun in one of the best restaurants in Denver at the time. I worked there into my college days – got promoted – eventually becoming the youngest waiter on the staff at 17-years-old. Keep in mind this is the kind of place where the waiter did a lot of tableside cooking, etc. They had to have special training. They also served alcohol, but since I was underage I had to have somebody else get the drinks for the table. I later moved to valet – parking cars – which was really cool. I once got 50 bucks to NOT park a Rolls Royce. The guy wanted me to leave it at the curb where he had pulled up. And after that I became a lifeguard at the club pool. By working at that country club I made good money – saved a little – and even bought my own car. I paid for it myself. I took out a loan and paid it off a year ahead of schedule. No help from my parents. I am still kind of proud of that. Overall, it was a great place to work. I learned a lot – earned a lot – and I am very glad I bugged that first manager to death.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

While that cat is away…

September 7, 2007

Laura Garcia CannonWhile the cat is away the mice will play. At least that’s the old saying, but in my book it may need to be rewritten to “While the cat is away, the mice will eat the strange things the cat thinks are gross.” Brent is the cat in this picture and I am the mouse. I think of this because coming up soon Brent will be flying off to Denver to see his Mom. While I miss him, it’s not possible for us to take all our time off together, but we make the most of it. It’s a great chance for him to spend some nice quality time with his family, as I do with mine. But that’s not all that is gained! Perhaps a few extra pounds by me while he is gone, as I indulge in the foods he doesn’t like at all! The mere mention of lengua (cows tongue) or menudo (stomach lining soup!) sets off a gag reflex in him. Throw in a few of my other strange favorites like liver, sardines, tuna… ha ha… wait a minute maybe I am the cat because that sounds like the makings of some “feline feast” by Friskies! It’s not like I crave these strange things daily, but I do on occasion. I don’t ever make or eat them when Brent is around because the smell of them sets off the aforementioned cat gag. Mental? Probably, but I respect our differences. Just like he probably eats cheese dogs when I’m gone. Ugh.

The thing is, I found out this is kind of common. Reporter Christian Kafton tells me his wife eats Natto (fermented soy beans). Traffic anchor Mike Inouye says he eats Saki Ika (dried cuttlefish) when his wife is away. He also admitted to a mac n’ cheese and salami concoction. Mmmmm. Jennifer Rose, a writer in our newsroom says she loads up on pasta and rice when her husband is gone on a business trip. I guess he keeps the carbs low. We all know Shannon O’Donnell likes chocolate, but little does her husband know how much she sneaks at work… Ha ha.. oops looks like the “cat” is out of the bag for all these folks. Sorry. Anybody want a pigs foot? Snort.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Sig-nificantly Alert

September 6, 2007

Mike Inouye

This past weekend was an historic one.

Labor Day Weekend 2007 will go down in history as the one in which the entire Bay Bridge was shut down, cutting off the main connection from Oakland to San Francisco for nearly three days so that a football field of asphalt could be “swapped out.”

Bay Area locals know, as well as much of our nation, the shutdown, destruction, construction and renovation all went off without a hitch. In case you missed our streaming web coverage of the humongous project, here’s time-lapse footage of some of the destruction of that 350 foot portion of the old approach to Yerba Buena Island.

The only real snag, it would seem, was getting the toll booth and other bridge maintenance positions staffed nearly 11 hours ahead of their expected operation time. I feel badly for those who had to be called in from their Labor Day vacation but we were all thrilled to see it happen ahead of schedule.

Caltrans did a tremendous job getting the word out to residents and visitors thru media outlets like ours. The public did a great job getting familiar with their alternates (some of which I outlined in spots like this.)

Some might wonder, since this had such a huge impact to traffic flow, why this wasn’t one of those Sig Alerts I often talk about. This is because it was a scheduled construction project and not an unexpected incident. (Click here to check out my blog explaining what a Sig Alert is, and where it got its name.)

So, while this was a Sig-nificant Alert it wasn’t a Sig Alert.

It was, however, a very successful venture for all involved… including YOU. Thanks for all of your help, getting the word out, getting your routes planned, and getting by without the Bay Bridge.

Let’s give Caltrans the Labor Day holiday off next year, they’ve been working hard for the past two. 😉

Mike “I’m Warning You” Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor