Archive for September, 2009

Patrick vs. Dr. Oz

Patrick Elwood was back at work today and just about everyone involved in Fox Chicago News at Noon asked him, “Did you see Dr. Oz filling in for you yesterday?”

Dr. Oz did a great job and the studio crew loved him.  He even called Patrick’s cell phone to leave a message about co-anchoring with me!  I think it all got Patrick’s Irish up:

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30

09 2009

Dr. Oz is in… to Co-Anchor!

My "co-anchor" today, Dr. Oz!

My "co-anchor" today, Dr. Oz!

You never know what might happen during a live newscast. Today, I was supposed to anchor Fox Chicago News at Noon by myself.  And Dr. Oz was supposed to come on as a guest. He’s the doctor who now has his own program on Fox after becoming a household name on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”.

Dr. Oz showed up early for his segment.  He’s a great guy – very friendly and at ease with everyone in the studio.  During a commercial break, he plopped down in the chair where Patrick Elwood usually sits so I joked that he should just fill-in as my co-anchor.

The studio crew scrambled to rework the show and before you knew it, he was on the air announcing, “Patrick is sick today so the doctor is in!”  It was great fun to have him join me for two segments of the show.

I asked Dr. Oz if he’s ever considered doing broadcast news.  He was quick to say no but he enjoys television.  His true passion is medicine so his new show allows him to dabble in both.  And still have time to help me out… at least, for today.

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29

09 2009

Pat’s New Shoes

Patrick Elwood:  Always ready to chase a good story.

Patrick Elwood: Always ready to chase a good story.

Before we anchor Fox Chicago News at Noon, Patrick Elwood and I usually cover stories for “Good Day Chicago”. That means a lot of running around town.  Well, Pat showed up for work today wearing some interesting new shoes.

Exhibit "A".

Exhibit "A".

I wasn’t the only one to mistake them for bowling shoes.  They’re not. Pat loves that they’re flexible and far more comfortable than dress shoes.  The rubber soles are perfect for chasing after whatever story comes his way.

People in the newsroom were eager to share their thoughts on Pat’s shoes:

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28

09 2009

Down with Chinatown

Over 22,000 people joined me for the China Day Parade!

Over 22,000 people joined me for the China Day Parade!

Chicago’s Chinatown isn’t the country’s biggest but it’s authentic and perhaps the friendliest.  I usually drop in when I can for dim sum and Asian groceries.  But today, I was there to emcee the China Day Parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

With China's Consul General Ping Huang & Chicago Alderman Danny Solis.

With China's Consul General Ping Huang & Chicago Alderman Danny Solis.

As I walked the parade route with Ping Huang, China’s Consul General to Chicago, he remarked “This is fantastic.  Just amazing!” We were both impressed by the turnout of tens of thousands of people lining both sides of Wentworth Avenue up to the Chinatown arch.

I’m certain the China Day Parade in Beijing won’t be anything like the one in Chicago.  Along with groups and representatives from every Asian community, there were rockin’ high school marching bands and even the Shannon Rovers in their traditional kilts.

Lots o' Lion Dances.

Lots o' Lion Dances.

Emceeing a parade can be a challenge.  The list of participants seldom matches the actual parade lineup.  And it never fails – big gaps develop between groups so the emcee has to fill the time.

Thank goodness for Gene Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Daley.  He’s a key member of the Chinatown community so he’s awesome to banter with. Sure beats me tap dancing or singing Chinese nursery rhymes!

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27

09 2009

Face Time

Shhhh, time to relax!

Shhhh, time to relax!

In many TV newsrooms, the term “face time” refers to when an anchor is on camera in a single shot. There are anchors who crave a lot of face time.  But I never keep track of such things. The biggest priority is conveying whatever news we’ve got to share in the most effective way.

Nonetheless, I need to spend time caring for my face in order to be ready for face time.  And every time I get a facial, I’m reminded that I don’t get them often enough.  I probably should get one at least every 3 months.  But since I’m always so busy and facials can add up, I get them rather haphazardly.

Women who work in television obviously wear far more makeup, far more often than the average woman.  Most days, I am eager to race home and clean off what my kids call my “TV face”.   I’ve had enough facials to know the importance of proper skin care.  It improves collagen production and elasticity, reduces lines, eases your woes over yet another losing year for the Cubs and spares your kids from seeing you in a scary facial mask.  A makeup artist once told me, “Facials are like maintenance for your car!”

With Duong Sheahan & Sarah Evans: "Look Ma, no makeup!"

With Duong Sheahan & Sarah Evans: "Look Ma, no makeup!"

So like my car, I am in for “service”. But it’s actually on my schedule only because of a spa event put on by a girlfriend.  Just the mere description of the facial is worthwhile – deep cleansing, exfoliation, hydrating mask and massage.  Any massage always makes me recall what an esthetician once said while I was away on a vacation.  She didn’t know I worked in television news. She asked, “What do you do?  You are so stressed out, you’ve got knots on your knots!”

Well, at least my skin’s in good shape.
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26

09 2009

Gesture Jesters

David Novarro, ignoring the "funny face" cue from floor director Jacques Eady.

David Novarro, ignoring the "funny face" cue from floor director Jacques Eady.

Among the many people you usually don’t see on the air during a newscast is the floor director. This person is like a field general in the studio – making sure we are in place, pointing us to the right cameras, letting us know about show changes, etc.

This morning for “Good Day Chicago”, David Novarro and I worked with Jacques Eady.  He’s a proud graduate of the University of Notre Dame and he loves floor directing because “everyday is different and exciting”. Jacques understands the importance of the job, noting “I am the conduit between the director, producer and the talent to make sure everyone knows what we’re doing.”

Mark Strehl signals for a particular weather graphic.

Mark Strehl signals for a particular weather graphic.

Since we are on the air while things change, many of our cues are hand gestures. You can imagine the fun we often have without saying a thing.  Some floor directors use cue cards that may say “:30″, “stretch” or “wrap”.  Others use fairly universal hand signals.  If we work with someone new, we may try to go over that person’s signals before the newscast.

Sondra Solarte makes a "T" sign for the "Traffic Times" graphic.

Sondra Solarte makes a "T" sign for the "Traffic Times" graphic.

When meteorologist Mark Strehl and traffic reporter Sondra Solarte aren’t on camera, they are likely gesturing during their updates in order to cue their various video sources and graphics.  It’s always fun to watch them from over at the news set. They are pretty adept at changing things up quickly since their alloted time can fluctuate.

I think David wants me to bunt or steal first base!

I think David Novarro wants me to steal second base!

Many people who come to visit the studio comment about the “show behind the show”. Viewers see a lot of fun on the air because we are having fun and truly enjoy working together.

How about a high five?

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25

09 2009

All Atwitter

The country's first-ever twitter course at DePaul University in Chicago.

The country's first-ever twitter course at DePaul University in Chicago.

I am no expert at social media – that’s what I stressed to students at DePaul University yesterday. They are enrolled in the country’s first-ever college course on twitter. When their instructor invited me to speak to the class, I worried that anything I knew would hardly enlighten college kids who are already technically savvy.  But they listened intently and seemed interested in how a working journalist is using a web tool that didn’t even exist five years ago.

My twitterstream:  Not so sure it's educational!

My twitterstream: Not so sure it's educational!

I met Craig Kanalley through twitter, naturally.  He says DePaul wasn’t too sure about a twitter class when he first proposed it.  But he argues, “It’s great for students.  Social media is important and makes them more marketable.” Indeed, students are learning to market themselves in order to network their way to internships and jobs.

I find twitter extremely useful for interacting with viewers and all kinds of people, even while I’m anchoring a newscast or out reporting in the field.  I surf the site daily to track news, troll for story ideas or find people to interview about particular issues.  It’s not uncommon to spot breaking news on twitter minutes earlier than any other source.

@ckanal & @NancyLoo

@ckanal & @NancyLoo

I wasn’t too surprised to receive quite a few tweets from the DePaul class as soon as I left!  These future journalists are not only impressive, they’re clearly ahead of the social media curve.

The web world moves fast, though. We may all be using some other social media source within the next year.  But I bet I’ll still keep my reporter’s notebook and a pen at the ready.

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24

09 2009

The Funky Chicken

What Chicago Olympic bid?  What healthcare debate?  There’s a chicken on the loose at Concordia University Chicago!!!  When I considered this assignment for “Good Day Chicago” this morning, I was concerned it would be like a wild goose chase.  But minutes after arriving at the school, students were asking “Are you here for the chicken?  Please don’t take him away!”  There were “Save the Chicken” signs all over campus and students were more than happy to flush the guy out for an appearance on live television:

Alright, it may not be the most hard-hitting story.  But within an hour of the report, I had quite a few emails, messages and tweets about the chicken.  Several viewers said, “Thanks, I needed that good laugh this morning.”   Steve wrote, “I have had the worst month of my life.  I’m losing my house and lost my job.  I haven’t found anything funny lately but that chicken story you just did made me laugh so hard!”  A viewer named Mike said, “Been miserable for several days but laughed my butt off with that chicken report.”

I’ll take covering a chicken over death and destruction anytime.

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22

09 2009

Turn Here!

No post here today but thrilled to contribute to the Chicago Moms Blog!  Click on link or on the icon in the right column.

Thanks for stopping in!

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21

09 2009

Crazy Roy

Crazy Roy is all business in the control room.

Crazy Roy is all business in the control room.

Every office seems to have certain people who keep the place lively and laughing.  We’ve got a lot of personalities like that on the morning shift at Fox Chicago.  But a big standout is producer Roy Santoro.  He’s proud that I refer to him as Crazy Roy.  This guy works hard in the evolving news biz but he also plays hard.  More than once he’s told me he’s surprised to still be alive.

Just yesterday he asked the newsroom, “Is it so wrong to be disgusting?”  Roy usually can’t go more than five minutes without using the F-word.  So last year, I challenged him to go an entire workday without dropping any F-bombs. I even offered to donate $100 to the charity of his choice if he could do it. Everyone in the newsroom lent their ears to enforce to challenge and he did pretty well.  But during the sixth hour, a technical problem prompted a pretty big and loud “F*#%!”.  The whole newsroom reacted and he looked pretty disappointed.  Maybe it’s time for another challenge.

Grammy Winner Richard Marx and ABC Radio's Roe Conn, who confirms Roy is crazy!

Grammy Winner Richard Marx and ABC Radio's Roe Conn, who confirms Roy is crazy!

ABC Radio host Roe Conn happened to be in the newsroom yesterday.  He had worked with Roy years ago at WBBM-TV. When asked about Roy, Roe has a lot to share including a story about a newsroom fight!  I can’t recall the details but Roe says it made him respect Roy ever after. However, he adds, “I don’t know anyone darker, crazier or more passionate about hating himself.”

But we all know Roy is quite passionate about his work.  He can produce the heck out of a show and he’s got top-notch instincts when handling breaking news.  He may be crazy but a lot of people are crazy about him.

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19

09 2009