As I left for work this morning, one of our producers texted to make sure I had my ice skates. No problem! I love assignments that mix work and fun. Lucky for me, by the end of “Good Day Chicago” this morning, I became the first person to skate on the new ice rink outside Wrigley Field!
Posts Tagged ‘News’
Reporting on the streets of Chicago during the winter months can get downright painful. This morning, we had wind chill factors of 21 below so just preparing for work took a lot of pre-planning. I suppose that’s the case for every Chicagoan who needs to get anywhere on days like this. But as a reporter, I often have no idea what I’ll be covering until I call into the Fox Chicago assignment desk. I keep an assortment of hats, gloves and scarves in my work bag and at least two coats in my car. Just about every reporter and anchor in town agrees that appearance is far less of a concern during the winter. Dressing properly for the conditions is a matter of survival!
Depending on the story, it can get tough finding anyone to interview about anything. When it’s this cold, people just want to get where they’re going as quickly as possible. Those who do stop to talk with me tend to make their points quickly and then go on their merry way. There are watery eyes and runny noses along with numb extremities. We get what we need and jump back into the news van.
Thank goodness for my blogging pal Duong Sheahan. The long, down parka I’ve been wearing is hers! She didn’t care for it since it was so much coat to deal with while running her errands. Well, it’s perfect for me since I spend much more time out in the cold.
Frozen equipment is another concern. Sometimes, the mast on the live truck gets frozen into place after we’ve been at a particular scene for a long time. There’s always suspense when we wrap things up on a cold day. But it’s not a problem today and I get back to the studio in time to anchor the news at noon.
Actually, the next hurdle – my hat hair!
The last time I saw Tony Arredia he was Mayor of Des Plaines, a major suburb northwest of Chicago, and we were standing in floodwater as I interviewed him for Fox Chicago. (See that report here.) Tony is one of my favorite news sources. As a journalist, I know the value of networking and maintaining ties with politicians and a whole host of people (though Pat Quinn rarely answers his cell phone anymore since becoming Governor) even if they’re no longer in office.
I love the story of how Tony wound up settling in Des Plaines. Back in 1963, he and his wife lived in Chinatown – right in the construction path of the Dan Ryan Expressway. So they drove around looking for a new place to call home. They loved a new subdivision to the northwest so planned to bring Tony’s father to see the place. Couldn’t find it. Tony drove into another new subdivision in Des Plaines and declared, “Here it is, Dad.” Today he admits, “I still don’t know where the hell I was when I was looking!”
He went on to become the mayor of Des Plaines for 10 years, stepping down just a few months ago. This guy has not slowed down. I visited him today at the Maryville Academy, which provides a host of services for troubled kids and families. There have been major changes at the academy since a suicide and sexual assault made news 6 years ago.
In his “retirement”, Tony is working as Director of Governmental Development for this cash-strapped agency. Like many others, Maryville has lost a lot of state funding – more than a million dollars – and the outlook is not good for next year.
I got to chat with some of the teenagers today. They are former drug addicts, thieves and thugs. But they are well-spoken and seem to be on new paths. John hopes to become a welder, Joe a fireman and Prince may join the Army. John insists, “This place changes the way you think.”
Maryville’s Executive Director, Sister Catherine Ryan, tells me other agencies are struggling even more. She’s heard of some that are out of money completely and troubled kids are being sent to food pantries in order to eat. This is why Tony is at Maryville everyday. He’s working the phones to drum up as much funding as possible. I’m honored to be the only journalist programmed into his cellphone. I have yet to meet the new mayor of Des Plaines but I know who to call.
Learning to share is something we stress to children but it’s clearly a valuable lesson far beyond childhood. This morning, I shared a live truck with my noon show co-anchor Patrick Elwood as we both reported for “Good Day Chicago”. Once in a while, that’s just how it works out. It’s an efficient way to get more live reports in the newscast while establishing more of a presence on the streets.
Cameraman Ed Flynn set up the live truck near Union Station. Patrick was covering the White Sox and the surprise trade of Jim Thome. I was covering the state’s new tax on candy and liquor. Viewers on the streets were surprised to see me and Patrick in person, at the same time. But I wonder how many viewers at home noticed that we were fronting different reports from the same location.
For my report, I bought sour gummy worms, candy bars and Twizzlers to illustrate how the new tax applies to many favorite items. I only shared a little.
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.
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.
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!
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.