Posts Tagged ‘Sondra Solarte’
We often talk about the darnedest things while on our way to cover stories. For some reason, cameraman Sean Gibbons and I started talking about pandas. I think it’s because we passed a Panda Express before we got to our location. Sean asked why pandas on loan from China always have double names like “Tian Tian” at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
We didn’t spend much time discussing why. We decided to assign panda names to some of our co-workers.
Me = “Loo Loo”, Sean Gibbons = “Sean Sean”, Sondra Solarte = “Sol Sol”, Ed Flynn = “Flynn Flynn”, Matt Butterfield = “Butt Butt” and Patrick Elwood = “Pat Pat”.
Then, there’s cameraman Stewart Orlin. He’s incredibly witty, intelligent and somewhat shy. He’s also got an extremely wry sense of humor. After conferring with Sean and Ed, we decided that Stewart’s panda name just couldn’t conform with the others. He’s “Tom”. What’s your panda name?
I enjoy getting a chance to talk with viewers when I’m out and about covering stories. Often, I am asked about Fox Chicago evening anchor Jeff Goldblatt. The most common question, “How did he get that scar on his chin?” Today, I found out. And along the way, I learned that many people in the newsroom didn’t know the answer either!
Last year, I got to learn firsthand how news anchoring and reporting aren’t nearly as nervewracking as singing in front of a live audience. So, I was more than happy to just be in the audience Saturday night for Chicago’s Newsapalooza, an annual charity event to benefit the Cystric Fibrosis Foundation. WLS Radio Host Roe Conn and Grammy-winning singer Richard Marx select news personalities to perform “out of their element”. Indeed, the result is interesting and entertaining.
Roe and Richard are passionate about the cause. Richard says, “Cystic fibrosis kills way too many people and a cure is imminent. We are very close!” Soon, we may be even closer because their event raised more than $100,000 for new research.
I’ll post the Newsapalooza highlights as soon as they’re available. But here’s Richard Marx and his band performing at the after party at the Hard Rock Hotel:
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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?
The Fox Chicago newsroom has been under construction for about a year now. Our new HD studio was the priority – that debuted months ago. But the main newsroom area is still evolving. We never know what the place will look like every time we return.
But another challenge is the constantly fluctuating room temperature. More often than not, the newsroom is cold. Executive producer Melinda Tichelaar jokes that our average temperature is about 55 degrees. As a survival tactic, I keep a pink shawl (a Christmas gift from Patrick Elwood) at my desk for emergency layering.
This morning, the cubicles were in a new formation and half the lights wouldn’t turn on. “It’s a cave”, says producer Roy Santoro. He’s like a caveman. He likes it. I’m shivering despite the company-approved space heater under my desk. His theory: ”You’re a girl. You guys are always cold.”
Entertainment reporter David Viggiano confirms the newsroom temperature is colder than 70. He adds, “It’s always cold. But I’m running around so I don’t feel it as much today.”
I guess it’s hard to please everyone. The cool conditions are ideal for all the technical equipment. In addition, studio lighting and humming computers can heat up a room pretty quickly. All over the newsroom, there are sweatshirts and jackets. At times, I’ve seen producers working in hats and gloves. But Melinda says, “If you go stand by Roy, it’s hotter because he’s always blowing hot air.”