Archive for August, 2009

Sick and Tired

3 Alarm Clocks, 1 Goal

3 Alarm Clocks, 1 Goal

It’s 1:38 a.m. and I’m awakened by the annoying beeps of my alarm clock.  I hit the snooze button knowing another clock with start beeping in 2 minutes.  I roll out of bed and turn off all three alarm clocks before the third one goes off.   They usually sound off at 2:38 a.m. but I lost an hour of sleep after the Fox Chicago assignment desk woke me up at around 9 p.m.   Someone’s called in sick so I need to be in earlier to report for “Good Day Chicago”.  Ah, life in the glamorous TV news biz.

The wacky morning shift means backtiming my routine in order to get as much sleep as possible.  To save time, I pick out what to wear the night before and then I follow personal time cues for every thing I need to do before leaving the house in time to hear the top stories on news radio.

"Reporting live from Criminal Court (with bags under my eyes & extra concealer), Nancy Loo, Fox Chicago News."

"Reporting live from Criminal Court (with bags under my eyes & extra concealer), Nancy Loo, Fox Chicago News."

But the routine is never routine.  Everyone in the news business knows to expect the unexpected because breaking news can happen at any time.   I always try to make my abnormal hours seem more normal and bearable.  Like clockwork, I’ll start my bedtime routine around 6:30 p.m.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to sleep until 2:38.

31

08 2009

Question Mark Died

"Let's get that snail.  They don't do ANYTHING!"

"Let's get that snail. They don't do ANYTHING!"

Like many parents, I spend much of the weekend running errands and driving kids around to various activities. I’m always amused whenever I’m able to eavesdrop on tween conversations.  Depending on the combination, I’ll either hear nothing because they’re texting each other about something private or they’re speed talkers, as if they may run out of time to make their points.  Is this a girl thing?  They make my son and his friends seem like they’re operating in slow motion.

For some reason, my daughter and a friend are talking about pet fish.  (We’ve gone through many and are long past the “Circle of Life” speech.)  The friend proclaims, “My fish lasted 5 years.”  I remark that 5 years is a long time for a pet fish.  She replies, “Okay, maybe it was 4 years or 3 or so.  But that thing would not die!”

My daughter shares the story of our beta fish.  One for her and one for her older brother in a side-by-side container. She recalls how she made a name tag for her fish and just put a question mark on her brother’s side.  So, he named that fish “Question Mark”.   She describes their colors and adds, “But then Question Mark died.”  End of story.

"Look, Octomom is attacking Kate!"

"Look, Octomom is attacking Kate!"

“Who do you have for science?”, the friend asks.  They continue to talk about their school, people at school, television shows, food, clothes and cell phones.  There is not a minute in which they’re not talking or giggling.  They make me giggle, too.

30

08 2009

Purple Power

He thinks of everything!

He thinks of everything!

My wardrobe didn’t clash with David Novarro‘s this morning on “Good Day Chicago” because he called me yesterday to ask what color I planned to wear.  I later texted “Purple, as in Purple Rain”.  What a great job he did in color coordination – lavender shirt, purplish tie, gray suit.  It may seem superficial and perhaps you may not even notice our efforts but the goal was to avoid clashing.   (For the record, we spend far more time working on the show than figuring out our wardrobe.)

Color coordination seems to make a difference.  I’ve worn the same purple top numerous times before but today it drew new attention.  I received a lot of viewer comments including “Love the purple!” and “LOOOOVE your purple top today”.   Similar efforts are made by many anchor teams all over the country.  I once heard about a team that would actually plan out what colors they’d wear for the entire week!

"Hey, I didn't get the purple memo!"

Kori Chambers: "Hey, I didn't get the purple memo!"

We’re not that organized.  Many of us keep extra clothing in our lockers to remedy any outrageous color combos. Although my locker currently contains just 2 tops, a parka, tennis shoes and an emergency stash of sour gummy worms.  Those are colorful and I think they match all of my outfits.

28

08 2009

A Little Means A Lot

Our 2008 campaign brought in $1.6 million worth of donations!

Our 2008 campaign brought in $1.6 million worth of donations!

Truth be told, there’s often grumbling and grousing in the newsroom over sponsored segments or special partnerships. It’s quite the contrary with a major campaign Fox Chicago is set to launch soon for Hunger Action Month.  We are teaming up with supermarket chain Jewel-Osco and a number of local food banks to help raise funds and reel in donations.

This is our second year working with the folks at Jewel and I can honestly say it’s one of the most rewarding assignments of the year.  My co-anchor Patrick Elwood and I will soon host live segments during “Good Day Chicago” to highlight the “Give a Little, Feed a Lot” campaign.  As you might guess, our economy and the dismal job situation has the current level of demand for help far outweighing the supply.

Jewel-Osco donates over 7 million lbs. of food throughout the year.

Jewel-Osco donates over 7 million lbs. of food throughout the year.

Throughout September, Jewel-Osco will be collecting cash and food donations at all of its 183 Chicago area stores.  Or come out and donate during one of our live segments.  The donations will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Midwest Food Bank and River Bend Food Bank.

I will never forget meeting a tearful woman in suburban Westmont last year. She had a small bag of items she could barely afford.  But she wanted to donate because she was so grateful to her local pantry. It takes so little to make a difference.  Please help us to help others.

n541141453_1401737_6381

Join in the drive LIVE!  “Good Day Chicago” 6-10am on:

9/3 2340 N. Ashland, Chicago;  9/10 2164 Bloomingdale Road, Glendale Heights;   9/17 805 Joliet Road, Dyer, IN;  9/24 9350 W. 159th, Orland Park

27

08 2009

A Sponge-Worthy Post

My Makeup Drawer: The "Scene"

My Makeup Drawer: The "Scene"

Once again, all the extra makeup sponges are missing from my drawer at Fox Chicago.   It’s been months since weekend anchor Byron Harlan admitted to pilfering sponges.  He messaged me through the newsroom computer system with a confession that began, “Please forgive me.”    Never mind that you can buy a lot of makeup sponges for just a few bucks at the drug store less than a block from our studio!

All kinds of things go missing all the time.  Is it as common in other workplaces?  This is why our main makeup room is usually locked.  Valuable, studio-quality items often “walk” away.  After I lamented over makeup sponges today, meteorologist Mark Strehl told me he’s missing an entire suit!

Makeup Sponges: A Hot Commodity

Makeup Sponges: A Hot Commodity

Things are not safe in the break room refrigerator either.  Even items clearly marked with your name may not be there when you return.  More than once, food items stored for on-air segments have disappeared, forcing guests and producers to scramble for replacement items or alternatives.

It’s my own fault, I suppose.  We have lockers but I don’t keep it locked – afraid that’ll slow me down under deadline.  So now I’m hoarding and hiding makeup sponges.   Not in the fridge – someone might eat them.

26

08 2009

An Abnormal Childhood

Say goodbye to the dog & get to school!

Say goodbye to the dog & get to school!

I took today off so I could be a “normal” mom for the first day of school.  I’m usually on television during the morning hours.  But today, I was able to make breakfast and help my middle schooler with her hair.  My husband used to say “I don’t do braids!”  By kindergarten, she wouldn’t let him even brush her hair in the morning.  She’s quite independent now, telling me just yesterday, “I already have my outfits picked out for the first three days.”  That’s after she insisted we make a special trip to her school yesterday in order to decorate her locker and make sure everything is in order.

She reminds me of me.  By 7th grade, I had already decided on a career in journalism.  I love writing and words (which explains my Scrabble addiction).  I can’t recall my parents ever making a big deal out of the first day of school.  It was just a given that I’d go and try to excel.

My parents owned a Chinese restaurant throughout my childhood.  Hard work.  Long hours.  We spent little time at our house.  I’d go to the restaurant after school to do my homework in a booth and then help out as a hostess or waitress.  I was a student council officer, cheerleader, gymnast, German Club president, school paper editor, you-name-it. My parents only heard about my exploits.  They weren’t around for much because they were always busy working.

But it’s that work that allowed for my college education and career in television.  I’ll be back at work tomorrow morning.  My daughter has no problems doing her own hair.

25

08 2009

A Well-Produced Wedding

Here comes the beautiful bride!

Here comes the beautiful bride!

Alicia Bettes is among the many amazing people who work in television news that you never get to see. She produces the noon newscast at Fox Chicago but over the weekend she was behind a far more elaborate production.  Just like her newscasts, her wedding was a show!   We laughed as an adorable bell ringer announced, “The bride is coming, the bride is coming!”.  We cried as we marked a moment of silence for Alicia’s late father.   And we laughed some more as Alicia came back down the aisle as Mrs. Teague, groovin’ to “Unbreakable”!

What joy to see my Fox family outside of work for such a special occasion.  We are always so busy in the newsroom, we seldom have the time to talk about anything other than assignments, stories, scripts, etc.

My Co-anchor Patrick Elwood reads the wedding poem

My Co-anchor Patrick Elwood reads the wedding poem

Bride Alicia looked stunning, of course.  But so did my colleagues. People who work off-camera can usually get away with a pretty casual wardrobe so it’s fun to see our camera guys, editors and producers in suits, ties and dresses.  It’s also great to meet their wives, husbands and significant others – our extended Fox family.

Alicia’s off on her honeymoon now. She had told me Terry was in charge of that production but I have no doubt she’s overseeing that as an “executive producer”!    I’m looking forward to her return to work as Alicia Bettes Teague.  Congratulations!

Alicia & Terry, cutting the cake/backtiming the "show"

Alicia & Terry, cutting the cake/backtiming the "show"

24

08 2009

1.5 Billion BFFs

Look, we're not the same person! Look, we’re not the same person! NBC5′s Nesita Kwan, CLTV’s Judy Wang, Me, ABC7′s Linda Yu & Joanie Lum, formerly of CBS2

I once told Connie Chung I could probably retire if I had a dollar for every time someone called me, “Connie”.  For a while, I gave up on correcting people.  I mean, what a compliment — she’s a TV news legend!  Connie laughed when I told her that whenever people said “Hi, Connie!”, I would just smile and reply “Maury says hello!”

But c’mon, everyone deserves a closer look and to be known as individuals.  You’d think single-syllable Chinese surnames would be easy to keep straight.  Why do so many people have trouble telling those of us on television newscasts apart?   After 8 years working in Chicago, it doesn’t happen as often.  But once in awhile, I’m called “Linda” or “Joanie” or some mangled version of our first and last names.

Earlier this week while covering a story in suburban Chicago, a man asked, “What are you? Are you Chinese?”  When I answered yes, he asked, “I have a friend in Taiwan. Maybe you know her?”  Are you kidding?!?!  And then he was compelled to tell me, “My son lives north of Seoul.” Uh, that’s in another country and I’m not Korean.  But I do appreciate that he was trying to connect with me and my heritage.

Me & Lisa Ling, not Lucy Liu

Me & Lisa Ling, not Lucy Liu

Perhaps this is all pretty trivial given our hectic times and the perilous state of television news. So please keep watching Fox Chicago and all other news sources. Appreciate the messenger. You know, ol’ what’s-her-name!

22

08 2009

A Bunch of Crap

Long before newsrooms became more subdued in the age of political correctness, shouting and cursing were the norm.  F-bombs would fly freely, especially as deadlines and show times approached.  I’ve always tried to avoid cursing but I must admit that I do from time to time.  Never on television, of course!

Anchoring in HK, where I learned Chinese swear words!

Anchoring in HK, where I learned Chinese swear words!

When I worked at TVB News in Hong Kong, I anchored the English-language newscasts but the newsroom operated mainly in Chinese. Boy, did I learn a lot of new Chinese words that my parents never taught me.  In fact, the terms are so crude I can’t even write about them here.  How interesting to experience the same newsroom culture but in a different language.

These days, “crap” is my crutch pseudo-swear word but I am clearly overusing it.  I heard my tween daughter use it casually last week. Crap!

So today my marketing pal, Jeff Willinger, told me to try a made-up swear word that he picked up: “shinnamon”.  WTF kind of word is “shinnamon”?!?!  I told him to try, “Shut the front door!”  But why are we trying to rely on alternatives?  The actual words are implied.

Let’s all try to refrain from using such language.  And don’t curse me out for trying!

20

08 2009

Hair’s the Deal

Today

Today

Believe it or not, I’ve been working in and on television for more than 20 years now.  The one thing that’s drawn the most letters, emails and comments is my hair.  I used to think to myself, “People, listen to what I’m reporting about!”  But I know, I know… television is a visual medium.  If my appearance is unpleasant or distracting, that can endanger any important information I’m trying to convey.  No, we do not have hairdressers on staff.  Most of us do our own hair and many employment contracts include a clause that prohibits any drastic changes to our appearance.

It’s amusing to recall some of the things people have written to me.  Years ago, I tried parting my hair on the other side of my head because a hairdresser told me that’d improve the overall health.  Of course, my hair fell into an unnatural-looking style.  I got at least ten letters asking what I’d done with my hair and why.  Another time, I was talked into some pretty short bangs.  Viewers made clear I should grow them out as quickly as possible!

So yesterday!

So yesterday!

My hair is longer these days and I think I’ve finally found a style that’s not too hard to maintain with my wacky work shift.  I just got back from getting a haircut.  Just a trim.  Although someone did write to suggest going short because it’s “sassy and fresh”.  Been there, done that.  And it’s taken quite a long time to grow it out again.

Viewer comments do make me second guess all kinds of things.  While hair is the #1 topic, wardrobe is a very close #2.  Where did I get that top?  (I shop all over the place!)  Why was I wearing a vibrant color while reporting somber news?   (News assignments can change by the minute.)  Don’t you have wardrobe consultants?  (Not anymore.)   Perhaps I’ll blog about that in the future.

I suppose our high-tech ways have trained all of us to be able to form complex opinions and thoughts on numerous tracks of audio and rapid-fire images without even thinking about it.   So you’re hearing me and the stories I’m reporting.  Is my hair okay?

19

08 2009