Thursday, December 11, 2014

A guest on "The Broadcast"

 Thursday morning I was invited to be a guest on KTXD Channel 47’s “The Broadcast” show to talk about my new book, “Crosswinds.”
What a great experience — and an opportunity to represent Waxahachie, which host Dawn Neufeld made sure to point out at the beginning of my interview. I want to thank producer Colleen Horning for all of her assistance, as well as the show’s hosts Dawn, Amy, Lisa, Meghan, and the entire crew of “The Broadcast” for providing such a memorable experience.
And to answer the question that the dozen or so people asked who called me after the show aired, no, it wasn’t my first time in a television studio.
In fact, I began my journalism career in television. Granted, I didn’t work on such an elaborate set — nor did I have the high-tech cameras and switching equipment that I got to see when Colleen gave me a tour of the Channel 47 studio.
My studio was a 10-foot by 8-foot armor-plated room next to the aft five-inch gun. (Believe me, you didn’t want to be in the studio when the guns were being fired. I was usually topside with a video camera). During my broadcasts, the studio pitched and rolled with ship’s movement as we steamed through the waves. I had one portable camera, one studio camera, a switching unit and five auxiliary input devices for my nightly broadcast, which I wrote, produced and directed all by myself as I delivered the nightly news to the 350 crewmen aboard the USS Buchanan, DDG 14. At sea, when I wasn’t delivering the nightly news, I was producing training videos (and videos of anything the Captain wanted a video of), climbing to the top of the mast to take spy photos of Soviet vessels and writing press releases for submission to Stars and Stripes and the Navy news service. In port, I guarded nuclear warheads.
While I was proud of my nightlight newscasts at sea, I admit, there weren't on the same level the KTXD team delivers for "The Broadcast" show. For starters, they didn't have to contend with their chair sliding across the deck when the ship took a heavy roll right when I was delivering a story on President Reagan's new military initiative in War on Drugs. Or the time the ship rolled and I dove to catch the studio camera before it hit the deck — all on live television. Or the time the captain wanted me to video a test launch of the ship's surface to air missile system and told me to stand on the deck outside the bridge, which was 10 meters from the missile launcher. I had no idea to expect. I had never seen a missile being launched up close. So, like a good sailor, I did what I was told. The video turned out great — except for the audio. I had to dub that out. After the explosion from the missile launch, all you could hear on the tape was this long string of profanity as the flames from the launch nearly engulfed me. Although it "startled me," I have always been pretty fearless with a camera in my hand. For what it's worth, all the officers in the wardroom thought thought the raw footage was pretty funny. "Petty Officer White will make sure and take the sound out before we send the tape to the admiral, right?"
"Aye, aye, sir!" I replied before doing an about face and exiting the wardroom briefing.
I admit, Thursday’s experience brought back a lot of memories — and provided the answer to a question I had all those years ago when I sailed the Pacific wondering what it would be like to work in a “real” television studio.
It wasn’t close to what I had imagined.
It was better.
Thanks to everyone at Channel 47 for a great experience and thanks for allowing me to talk about "Crosswinds." I’ll post the YouTube link on Facebook as soon as it’s available for those who didn’t have a chance to watch but would like to see it.

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