Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Day I Missed Working in TV: A Tribute to The List

Ever since I started working on "the other side of the camera," I'm regularly asked if I miss working in television. The immediate answer is, "No, not really." I actually still go on air regularly, plus I shoot video, edit and write, which I always enjoyed. I work so much with media that it satisfies my need for urgency/immediacy, plus working for a non-profit organization that helps animals is extremely fulfilling. Although my job is not perfect and I go through phases where I complain a lot (*ahem* gala fundraiser prep time *cough cough*), I'm aware that I'm blessed in my current career, and that not all former newspeople have the luxury of such a satisfying transitional career. One news mentor of mine got out of the biz for many years, and ironically recently began working again at the same station where she used to be the main anchor. She calls non-news careers "trying to work a civilian job." I don't presume that we former newsies are even close to military, but I do think working in news makes your mind work in ways it would not otherwise... and if you leave television before you're fully ready, it will leave you wishing you had stayed in (no matter what negative circumstances you are dealing with in your dysfunctional newsroom -- because what newsroom runs without a little dysfunction?).
Back in the day!

That same mentor made me fully realize and admit to myself that one day, there is a likelihood I will again work in television. Why? Even though she and I had both been out of news for a while, we still talked about TV all the time. It was a common passion between us-- a language we both spoke fluently, and a binding interest. Every time I visit my hometown, I watch my former coworkers on the air. When I visit San Francisco, I'm watching the local NBC affiliate, reminiscing about the day I job-shadowed the morning team. I love watching Miami news, fantasizing that I, too, could be on the air with the rest of the divas, with my long hair extensions blowing in the ocean breeze. ;)

The one and only time since I left WPTV NewsChannel 5 that I have missed working in television came not too long ago. It was a moment I was watching my favorite news magazine show, which actually airs on WPTV. The show is called The List, and the South Florida segment began airing. As soon as I watched reporter (and my former coworker) Dan Corcoran bite into a gourmet grilled cheese sandwhich for a standup, I had a startling revelation: if that were my job, it could have been me getting paid to eat grilled cheese sandwhiches on TV! And I admit that I felt a pang of envy that Dan and the other bureau team members, Bureau Chief Andy Delancey and Photographer Amanda Crane (as well as former South Florida and current Denver Reporter Ashley Porter) had such AMAZING television jobs. 

They get to have unique experiences, review cutting edge gadgets and interview celebrities... They even let me tag along a few times for cool stuff like interviewing the lead singer of Jefferson Starship
With David Freiberg

Of course, I was always grateful that they put the Zoo where I work on air a million times...
Dan at the Zoo filming ladybugs

The show is community info-tainment, and it is pretty much a dream job I would love to have. I'm not a hard-hitting investigative type of journalist, but I would have investigated just how melted that grilled cheese really was!

So I was happy to spend time with Andy, Dan and Amanda as they came to the Zoo to film a ladybug release to promote our upcoming weekend activities. The shoot went off without a hitch, but they had to leave quickly because they had a corporate phone call scheduled immediately afterwards.

Then, the bombshell -- Andy texted me that the corporate phone call was to tell them their local segment is being CANCELLED. The bureau is shutting down. This devastating news hurt me on multiple levels. First and foremost, I'm a fan of the show. As a viewer, I get a kick out of the easy-breezy, fun and funky format. Secondly, on a professional level, I will definitely miss the regular coverage they were so kind to provide the Zoo. They could do more creative angles of our events and Zoo news like no other.

Lastly, and more importantly, these affected employees are my friends. Nobody cracks Baptist church jokes with me like Andy does, and he is one of my most supportive friends, always there for me. Amanda won a special place in my heart back in our news days, when she drove an hour at top speed to deliver to me some legal documents outside the Okeechobee courthouse. She brought the papers JUST so I could hold them up on air and refer to the lawsuit for an active liveshot. She was shaking when she got out of the car from that nerve-wrecking drive! She is one legit photog. As for Dan, my husband (who is also a former TV reporter) and I both agreed even when we were new to this market that he is so good, he belongs on CNN. All three of these journalists are skilled, talented and dedicated-- and as my friends, it pains me to see them lose jobs they love through no fault of their own.

Whether they go the way I did and stay out of television (for now), or whether they will find other news jobs in this market or other cities, only time will tell. But my true wish for each of them is that their next careers will be just as great as the adventure they have been on ever since The List began... And that they never miss what they had by even one day, because their new roles will be that much more wonderful. Y'all are on MY List! 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Key West vacation, day 3 -- touched and fed sharks!

One of my meteorologist friends who worked in Miami for a while used to tell me, "The sun always shines in Key West!" But it was a blessing in disguise that it was raining today. I needed to catch up on some serious work, and I got a lot done while I was in my room. It really helped me to focus!

Still, it was obvious that I was on vacation, because I kept the balcony door open to the fresh, balmy breezes wafting through the palm trees. My background soundtrack was the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore! HEAVEN ON EARTH.

I barely ventured out of the hotel today, but I did take myself to Mallory Square. I passed by the Little White House.

 Made it to downtown Key West.
 Saw the trolley.
 I think this is the Arts Museum? I took photos of the titles of things, but of course forgot that (I'm typing all this at midnight) so can't remember the names of stuff.  :)  My bad, yo.
Love the view from the top of the Shipwreck Museum, my husband and I went there a couple of years ago.
 I was disappointed this little shack was closed. It makes such yummy conch fritters! It's right beside the Key West Aquarium.
The rain quit around 4:30 p.m. and I was bound and determined to get a sunset photo. 
The sunset was disappointing from the cloud cover, but the Key West Aquarium more than made up for that.
 Horseshoe crabs. Freakin' prehistoric.
 Moray eel.
 I've never seen sea horses while snorkeling... maybe one day!
 Saw this fish out in the ocean yesterday.
 Cool anemone.
 Really wish I could remember the name of this cool fish...
 Eel and lion fish.
 I LOVE YELLOW TANGS! They look so bright and cheerful!
 Well, hello there, Mr. Lobster!
 Blue-striped grunt, I think.
I believe this one is a scrawled cowfish.
 So the sunset wasn't the spectacular phenomenon that Key West typically boasts, but it was still an attractive gray sky.
 Conch pride!
 This is a tomato clown fish! Unique coloring, right? I had never seen one before.
 Grouper. I think it's a red grouper?
 Even the baby gators were snuggled up in the chilly air.
 I've seen these huge manta rays at the Atlantis aquarium in the Bahamas... their size is truly impressive. And slightly terrifying, although they are gentle giants.
 Just some of the marine life you can pick up.
 You can touch all the stuff in the aptly-named Touch Tank!
 The guide shows off a sea cucumber and a horseshoe crab.
 We got to touch a nurse shark! The skin was rough...
This large sea turtle is named Spike. She was rescued in 1998, when she was just the size of your hand! Now she weighs 200 pounds.
 So after my aquarium adventures, I made my way around Duval Street again. It's like a magnet to me, although I'm not really a partier. I just like to look!
 It's so pretty! So much like New Orleans, but less stinky!!!
 Yay. :)
 I had amazing pizza again from Duetto's, and this time ended the meal with mint chocolate chip gelato. Happy ending to a great day!
 Bye, Hemingway!

Key West vacation, day 2

9 a.m. -- Woke up to this glorious view...
I am feeling a bit cracked out from drinking a triple espresso since the rooms didn't have a regular coffee maker. Lesson learned: an espresso is not a regular cup of coffee.

10 a.m. -- I have made my way down to the hotel's private beach. Just want to say how glad I am that they have fruit-infused water... It's the little things that make for big luxury!
When you first walk out of the lobby:
Love the sand sculpture.
Found the shadiest hammock, you can see our room balcony from here.
Looking left from my hammock.
Get it, Jetski Man!
I'm reading this February 2015 O magazine, and it has a wonderful deep thought.
It says, in Martha Beck's column, the following:
"If you're hungry and you eat a square meal, you'll feel better. But you won't feel ten times better if you eat ten square meals. Our culture instills in us an unfettered lust for more, more, more. Like a cancer, that lust doesn't know when to stop. Consider asking, How can I make do with less? You'll find yourself headed for the even-keeled moderation that leads to real happiness."

1 p.m. -- I was so busy working in my hotel room (yes, unfortunately I have been spending a chunk of time daily having to keep up with my job)... I almost missed my planned snorkel trip! I didn't realize the time was 12:30, and I was supposed to already BE AT THE MARINA!!

I flew out of the door and raced in my car, parked and ran there. I was out of breath by the time I made it onto the catamaran, and the captain was like, "Slow your roll!" But I had made it!
 Notice the LSU flag on this mega-yacht. Geaux Tigers, even in Key West! :)

The ocean conditions were decent with clear visibility, although winds were high and there was chop. It made the snorkeling a little rough because I was fighting the waves. I think this mag be my final snorkel excursion for quite a while. The Blue Heron bridge snorkel trail in Riviera Beach has me so spoiled, nothing really compares.

The only things of note today that I sighted were huge barracuda, and a sting ray. Of course my camera battery was dead by the time I saw the sting ray. But it wasn't a big deal since I see them all the time at the Blue Heron bridge.

Yellowtail snapper...
 Brain coral...
 I think this is some kind of boxfish...
 The big, bad barracuda. This picture doesn't convey how large they were.
 Check out dem teefs!
The catamaran, from Key West Sebago. The company offers snorkeling, sunset cruises and sailing. The crew members were perky and helpful. Highly recommend.

On the way back in, I admired what was allegedly Oprah's vacation home (one of them) until she sold it a couple of years ago. The internet confirms she did rent out all of Sunset Key cottages to celebrate her 44th birthday with a few of her celebrity BFF's... 
I love Sunset Key -- it's this little island with fancy homes and bungalows, only accessible by boat right off of Key West's shores. No cars are allowed on it so people just drive golf carts.

There it is, the distant island...

4 p.m. -- Best slice of pizza ever at Duetto's, a delightful, small cafe-type spot right between the marina and Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval. It bills itself as "A Taste of Italy in Key West." 

Totally gave them a glowing review on Trip Advisor because they were so hospitable, the pizza was so crazy-good and inexpensive, and another customer suggested it. I literally said "Wow!" as soon as I bit into the garlicky goodness, and the fellow customer heard it and said to me, "Best pizza ever. Give it a good review online." So I did!

7 p.m. -- Awesome dinner with Kelly Aline's work posse at the Casa Cayo Hueso. This spot is cool! I wish it had a secret passageway I could explore. It looks as if it would have one.

10 p.m. -- Shenanigans ensue on Duval Street. 
Angela Street!