Actualities, Certainties, and Factoids

25 Actualities, Certainties, and FactoidsOkay, I give in. I’ve been tagged about a billion times to post 25 silly little tidbits of self-centered trivia so that others may indulge their voyeuristic ways. But hey, we’re all voyeurs. So on with the show-n-tell.

1) I am a Christian and have strong faith in God. I voted for Obama. I am pro-choice, anti-abortion and pro sexual education. I believe in evolution. I believe creation came first. I believe Adam and Eve were real but that the story was written so that we could comprehend it. Because of of my Obama vote, a Christian brother once called me “less of a Christian”. I am not that kind of Christian.

2) I’ve always been severely ADHD but wasn’t properly diagnosed until age 32.

3) ADHD drugs changed my life horribly. ADHD drugs changed my life wonderfully. The horrible part is now in the past. The wonderful part continues.

4) I have two acoustic guitars, three awesome electric guitars, one bass guitar, four amps, a mandolin, and a full set of drums, but I’m a horrible musician.

5) I have a slight obsession with not being defeated.

6) That person who everyone calls when his or her computer malfunctions, I’m that guy.

7) I am a complete Mac snob. I can’t understand why everyone hasn’t figured out that a Mac is a far superior computer. You’ll never go back, I promise.

8) My father died when I was 10-years-old. It profoundly affected me then as it does now. As I near the age of my father when he died, I’ve found myself truly appreciating some of those important things that we all frequently take for granted.

9) I will spend hours on end tweaking one photo until I believe it’s as perfect as it can be.

10) I never finished a novel until I was 32-years-old (see #2)

11) I worked on a island one summer during college and at the Grand Canyon the following summer.

12) An incident while hiking/camping in the mountains during 8th-grade caused me to dig a hole and burry my underwear.

13) I was honored with two Emmy Awards, a National Headliner Award, and approximately 20 AP & RTNDAC Awards during my time as a TV news journalist.

14) I’ve come to the realization that I have issues, and so does everyone else.

15) I still have several great friends from high school with whom I continue to keep in contact, and did so before Facebook.

16) Buddy Baily and I once heated up a quarter to a red glow and tossed it in the hallway during change of class. Mr. Kornhaus found out, pulled both of us out of our following classes and went ballistic.

17) I think that the strengths of women are egregiously underestimated most of the time.

18) I’ve interviewed astronauts, murders, presidents, rapists, rock stars, famous athletes, and even Billy Graham. I’ve seen a man’s brains put into a body bag with a shovel, a burned body hanging out of a bus and the aftermath of a day-trader’s killing spree. I’ve searched for Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina. I’ve covered the Susan Smith trial, the 1996 Olympics and the shootings of police officers. I’ve stood on an overflowing mound of pot in the bed of a truck . I’ve done live shots from three hurricanes, flown in a hot air balloon, and hung from the skids of a sheriff’s helicopter while shooting video. Still, the best part about being in TV news was the ordinary, every-day person who trusted me enough to tell his or her ordinary, every-day story.

19) I’m taking three days vacation this coming April to go see the Grateful Dead in Boston. It will be my 11th and 12th times. The first 10 were with Jerry.

20) Being a daddy of two daughters has presented a big challenge to me when it comes to playtime. It’s tough for a man who grew up destroying things to play with dolls, frilly stuff, and other things that are pink.

21) I have the most wonderful wife in the entire world. We may not always agree on things, but she is always there for me.

22) The most important thing that I’ve learned while working at Clemson University is that education in any form is all about taking something and making it meaningful to someone.

23) I’d rather look at html code and java script instead of internet porn.

24) I once watch several emergency room doctors and nurses work on a 14-year-old boy who was still wearing his football practice pants and cleats when he arrived unconscious. The boy’s mother, father, younger sister, and football coach were all watching, too. Then I watched the doctors stop and pronounce the boy dead. I can still hear the screams of his mother.

25) I believe that being rich has nothing to do with money and everything to do with trust, family and personal integrity.


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Baltimore: A Story From My Time In TV News

The trip to Baltimore came as a dull story, but it was travel. And it guaranteed that I wasn’t going to be shooting a story about a big pot hole in the left lane of Pleasantburg Drive combined with a rain-laden 11pm live shot all because of random caller to the news room.

For example purposes, here it a quick look into everyday TV news.

Assignment Editor:
WYFF. News room.

Caller: Yeah, is this WYFF?
Assignment Editor: Yes sir. How can we help you?
Caller: Hey, ya’ll know there is a big pot hole on Pleasantburg. Ya’ll ought to do a story about that and tell some people.
Assignment Editor: Thank you sir. I’ll pass that along.

Now, everyone in TV news knows what “I’ll pass that along” actually means. However, on this one particular rainy evening, there I was with my reporter doing exactly as describe in the paragraph above. This is why we live for the big story….or the travel.

Back to the Baltimore story. The story basically involved city and county leaders making a trip to Baltimore in order to take note of city planning and all that comes with such things. Yeah.

I’d been on such a trip before except the city and county leaders did their “research” in Portland, Oregon. Now that was a fun trip. Cool city Portland. However, my reporter had a tenancy to come out of the shower completely naked, put one leg up on a chair and then wanted to talk about the agenda for that day. Remember that Seinfeld episode about good naked and bad naked. Yeah, this was the bad kind.

Again, back to Baltimore. The best part of the trip came on a day when we had little to do. So while my reporter logged tape, I walked down to Camden Yards see what the hell was up with all the protesters and cops. To my wonderful surprise, it just so happened to be THE day when the Cuban National Baseball Team was in town to play the Orioles. How flippin’ cool is that? Talk about a nat sound piece waiting to happen. But alas, I shot just enough for a little flavor in the piece above. I had no interest at that particular time to shoot a nat sound piece.

My only concern was getting into the game. Tickets, of course, were sold out. So I did what any good journalist would do. I looked for the affiliate sat truck. Once found, I simply walked in. To say serendipity was on my side that day would be an understatement. Who do I find in the NBC sat truck but an engineer who used to work at WYFF. Mike Laboone was a quite kinda guy, but nice as could be. He was a great TV news engineer.

“Hey Mike, got a press pass for me?”

With a flick of his wrist he handed me an all-access golden ticket to history in the making.

I sat in the press box, along the first-base line, behind home plate, and along the third-base line. I even had the opportunity to get Cal Ripkin’s autograph. I didn’t because I’m not one of those media people, but it was cool to see him up close and in the flesh. Here and here for more about that game.

That’s really about all. I know it’s a boring story with too many tangents. I don’t care. It was one of those I-worked-in-TV-news moments that I’ll never forget.


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Forced To Look In Strange Places

Journalism, Video Journalism, Video Editing, Video Production, Emmy, Award, Winning, Top 10, Best, World Famous, Videography, Cinema, Betacam, Avid, Final Cut Pro, FCP, Non-linear editing, Chris Gulfman, WYFF-TVIt’s a day that’s vague in my memory but one I’ll never forget; vague enough that I couldn’t remember exactly where I was standing until I saw the purple beacon.

My face became flush and I wanted leave.

But I couldn’t. Besides, the windows were down and Jerry was singing loudly.

Look for a while at the china cat sunflower,
Proud walking jingle in the midnight sun.
Copperdome bodhi drip a silver kimono,
Like a crazy quilt stargown through a dream night wind.

It’s a morbid thought if you really think about it. On the anniversary of a death that continues to cause more sadness than is necessary, and certainly more than he would want, I stood speaking to a piece of marble with gilded lettering. Below that stone lies the shell of a man who I consider a brother.

The small corvette and the golden fighter jet caused a visceral reaction as I thought about the accent and diction of my friend as he sat playing in his youth. When his friends called to play, did he invite them to come over with an offer of about n-n-n-n-nine marbles and a new pack of Oreos? I truly wonder if he knew back then that college was expensive and fatty foods were bad for you?

I think about Chris frequently. I think about the purpose of his death, or maybe I should say the purpose of his life. It’s really the same, isn’t it? And I wonder if he knows the profound affect that his death had on my life. Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right.

More information about Chris Gulfman can be found here and here and here

My personal tribute to the Gman can be found at WhimsWeb. (link is now working again)


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Cootie Stark: The King of Piedmont Blues

When I read about Mr. Johnny Miller in a local Greenville, S.C. newspaper, I had to go meet him. I was really into playing the blues guitar during that time, and I had no idea that a Piedmont Blues legend lived no more than a mile from my home.

The projects where Johnny lived weren’t far from city condemnation at that time. I pulled up in unit four, my WYFF-TV news vehicle, during a lunch break and knocked on the door. A humble yet cigar-thick voice greeted my call with hello as he opened the door.

There he was, Cootie Stark, right in front of me. Cootie was his stage name.

He invited me in before I could finish explaining my purpose.

The dark four room dwelling had painted concrete block for walls and no decoration. I guess it made sense; he’s a guy and he’s blind. I probably wouldn’t decorate, either.

Cootie started telling me the story of his life and included things like growing up in Laurens, S.C. and pickin’ peas as a child. He spoke of traveling all the way to Greenville (about 20 miles) during the summer, and how he came to play guitar. He made mention of his relationships with Baby Tate, the Rev. Gary Davis and several other Piedmont Blues legends living in the area around the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

He also talked a lot about the Music Maker Relief Foundation, and the MMRF president, Tim Duffy. He called him Timmy. He told me how the organization has helped him survive, travel the world and feel as though he again had purpose. The stories captivated me.

My lunch hour almost gone, I asked if I could come back some time and shoot a story about his life. He agreed, and I stood to leave.

“Hey, uh, I seem to be havin’ a bit of trouble with my CD player,” Cootie said. “You any good at that kinda stuff? Could you look at it for me?”

I was honored with the thought of helping such a such a legend. I reached over and picked up the CD player. My keen sense of electronictechnogeek kicked in quickly and I determined without a doubt that the CD was in upside down. Yes, I know. My brilliance continually amazes me, too.

I flipped it and hit play. Out comes this great Piedmont Blues. “This is great,” I said. “Who is it?”

“That’s me,” he said in his polite southern gruff.

I shook his hand, set up a time to do a feature story* and departed to the nearest music story to pick up a copy of Sugar Man. I was late getting back.

I had a few more conversations with Mr. Miller before he died in April 2005. I again honored one evening at the Handlebar when I was able to thank him for helping me achieve my goal of winning an Emmy. I was also able to thank him for allowing me to preserve a dying form of true Americana.

I shook his hand and gave him a copy of the story.

“Thank you young man, you gonna to do just fine with your life,” was that last thing he said to me.

Listen to Cootie Stark:

* Kudos to my reporter and friend, Kimbery Lohman, for an doing such an excellent job on this story.


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Saving Light To Sea – The Morris Island Lighthouse

This story profiles a group of people struggling to save to save a part of american history, the Morris Island Lighthouse located off the shores of Folly Island, S.C. I shot this story as a series feature during my tenure at WYFF. It’s full of color characters and solid NPAA photojournalism. This is one of several stories I shot* that allowed me to earn an Emmy Award for Best Photography. Additional Videos

A Brief History of the Morris Island Lighthouse:
Morris Island lighthouse stands all alone about 300 yards off shore from the island of Folly Beach. It can be viewed from the northeast end of Folly Island and from the bridge coming on to Folly Beach.

The Morris Island lighthouse is now completely surrounded by water but was once sitting on a good sized island with numerous buildings around it. The lighthouse was completed in 1876 and was the second lighthouse to be built on the island.

In the 1700s there were three islands that stretched for four miles between Folly Island and Sullivan’s Island. They were named Middle Bay Island, Morrison Island, and Cummings Point. The first Charleston lighthouse was built on Middle Bay Island in 1767. The lighthouse was designed by Samuel Cardy and built by Adam Miller and Thomas Young. The tower was cylindrical and stood 102 feet tall. The lantern room had a revolving lamp that had a range of about 12 miles. In 1858 a Fresnel lens was installed.

In the early 1800s the channel leading to Charleston began to shift causing a change in the tidal currents. Sand began to build up between the islands and this resulted in the three islands merging into a single island. Since Morrison Island was the central of the three earlier islands, the now single island was called Morrison Island. Later the name was shortened to Morris Island.

The first Charleston lighthouse continued to provide service up to the Civil War. In 1861 the fleeing Confederate soldiers blew up the lighthouse so northern troops could not use it.

Folly Beach, Folly Island, Folly Island Lighthouse, Photojournalism, TV News, Video blogFollowing the civil war, in 1873, Congress appropriated money for the rebuilding of the Morris Island Lighthouse (then referred to as the Charleston Main Light). The lighthouse was completed in 1876 approximately 400 yards from the earlier tower. It stood 161 feet tall and was patterned after the Bodie Light of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It even used the same paint scheme as a day mark – black and white horizontal stripes. There were a total of 15 buildings on the island besides the lighthouse tower. Included in these were the keeper’s quarters, various outbuildings, and a one-room schoolhouse (the school teacher came over from the mainland on Monday, taught the children during the week and returned to the mainland on Friday).

Toward the end of the 1800s the channel had again shifted, but this time the change threatened the Charleston Harbor. In order to keep the channel open several jetties had to be built. These were completed in 1889. Although the channel into Charleston was saved, the changing tidal currents resulting from the jetties caused severe erosion on Morris Island. The island began to shrink. By 1938 many of the buildings were destroyed and others moved. The light was automated in 1938 and the Fresnel lens was removed.

Since 1938 over 1600 feet of land surrounding the tower has been lost. Today it stands alone, completely surrounded by water. In 1962 the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse was built to replace the Morris Island Light, which was decommissioned. The U.S. Coast Guard had plans to demolish the tower but petitions from local residents saved the structure. The Coast Guard built an underground steel wall around the tower to protect it from further erosion damage. The lighthouse is now
privately owned and efforts are underway to preserve the Morris Island Light.

The Morris Island Coalition is working hard to protect Morris Island. The Morris Island Lighthouse Project is working to preserve and restore the lighthouse. Please visit their sites and learn much more about the rich history of Morris Island. [Source – FollyBeach.Com]

* Kudos to my reporter and friend, Stephanie Trotter, for writing a great story and for allowing me to white balance when there was nothing white at hand.


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Cows Escape Truck, Town Rallies City Police, Cowboys, & Mop-Toting Grandma

Cops, EMS, Firefighters, Lasso-toting Cowboys, Children and a Grandma rallied to track down a heard of cattle that escaped their captivity.

The assignment was to investigate a report of a hand grenade found by children in the a backyard. The hand grenade report turned out to be bogus, but serendipity of that moment led me to a much better – and much more fun – spot news story.

Cowgone is one of several in a series of stories that allowed me to win an Emmy for best TV News Photography.


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Reporter Attacked On Camera by Three Women

A reporter for WSPA in Spartanburg, S.C. was attacked while covering a murder investigation.

According the the WSPA Websitereporter Charmayne Brown and was standing on public property when a group surrounded her and started punching. Brown says she was across the street from the victim’s house when family members began yelling at her to leave.

Brown says the group was also yelling racial slurs at her and her photographer. She says one of the women in the group then rushed at her, punched her and dragged her to the ground. She says at that point it’s hard for her to recall what was going on, but WPSA’s satellite truck operator Ray Daubenspeck says he also saw the woman punching her. He called 911, picked up a camera and began recording video. Charmayne says at least two other people joined in on the attack as her photographer tried to pull them off of her. Source: WYFF & WSPA


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Research Shows Birth Frequently Follows Cervix Dilation


This just in…
Sources tell Newscenterplexdoppler Live 5 that PW (AKA: Mom, Patti Watti, and from time to time, Damnit Patti), spouse of world famous Communications and Public Relations Guru, BuckeyeTimmy, is two centimeters dilated.

For further information, we go to Roger in the Live Super Newsplex Doppler Live Newsroom Center Room Plex…

Thanks Will…
According to sources wishing to remain anonymous, one centimeter equals 10 millimeters.
Back to you Will…

Thanks Roger…
For further information, we now go Live to Janet at the Greenville Hospital System.

Will, after days of research with local authorities, local physicians, and local locals, Newscenterplexdoppler Live 5 has learned that cervix dilation is an indicator of impending birth of a new baby. We have also learned that when dilation begins, birth of a new baby will be coming soon.

Thanks Janet for the in-depth and detailed report… (turn, take camera 2)

In other news…
College is expensive…Fatty foods are bad for you…And it rains in the Spring…

And speaking of rain, Natalie has a few nasty little clouds to tell us about….



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To Every Thing…

You’ve probably noticed that my blogging frequency has gone the way of cosign. What can I say? There are times that I have an opinion and… Wait, I always have an opinion on everything. It’s just the amount of time that I have to voice that opinion seems to continually shrink.

First up on the day, news so big that it can only be described as equal in scale to that of the distance between galaxies. However, you’re going to have to wait. I’m sorry.

Secondly, I think I’m obsessed. My high-school reunion is coming in the near future. I’ve put together a simple discussion board and blog so as to circumvent the evil classmates dot com. I’m also working on a secret project for the reunion that is taking a huge amount of time. Between scanning old high school documents, photos, and the like and then working on this other project, I’m investing something like 20 hours a week. I’ve been doing so for a few months.

The third thing on my list of mentionables is my buddy, MD. MD was the first person to show me how a Betacam works. He taught me all the basics of editing, composition, gathering proper sound and everything else involved in TV new gathering. MD and I became brothers during this process and I consider him one of my best friends. I’m happy to report that MD is finally, FINALLY, getting out of the news business. His last day is tomorrow. He and a fellow reporter are starting their own production company. And to that I say, ROCK ON!~ Check out his new business, TomorrowVision Media.

And the last thing on my list today is Paris Hilton. I just couldn’t pass it up. An insider at Camp Paris gave this quote yesterday to a national news source.

“The way this case was handled was a disaster,” the insider says. “Nobody goes to jail for DUI that long. It was all the lawyer’s fault and we’re looking into what recourse we have.”

Guess what? It wasn’t the lawyer’s fault that Paris went to jail. It wasn’t the lawyer’s fault that Paris went to jail for an “unusually long” period of time. And it wasn’t the lawyer’s DUI charge.

The video to the left is of MSNBC Anchor Mika Brzezinski and her response to her producer leading with a Paris Hilton story. Certainly a must see if you’ve ever been in TV news.

And my praises, rants, and musings cease for today.


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Hey Joe Died

It was me a hundred times over during the course of nearly ten years in the TV news industry. Somewhere on a highway shooting the scene of an accident was where I cut my teeth, or at least learned how to always white balance. When the weather was bad and driver visibility lessened was when I was dispatched the most.

I once did a 11p live shot in the sleet/rain on I-385 at the intersection of I-85. We were stationed at the apex of a blind hill so we could get microwave reception. The on-coming drivers saw nothing until cresting. They would then be blinded by the frezzi on my camera and any extra lights I could set up before deadline. Mix in with the weather and the bright lights the ohhh & ahhh factor of a big TV news van and a reporter. What you get is nothing but a journalists’ nightmare.

To me his name was Hey Joe. That’s what I said every single time I called the assignment desk at Fox Carolina. The response was always the same; a semi-husky and friendly tone of, “Hey Tim, what’s going on? How are ya?”

Joe Loy was one of those embedded Upstate journalists with nearly an entire career covering local news. Like most journalist that work in this market for more than five years, Joe knew everyone…and their phone numbers. He knew how to get from here to there no matter either location. He understood news and he understood Upstate news. There is a difference. He was a very sweet man who always had time for conversation, and he always cared, or at least seemed to care, about the hack pitch du jour.

Joe worked the assignment desk at Fox but would pick up a camera from time to time. He was certainly no stranger to it. While covering the subsequent gawker wreck of a major accident on I-85 in Spartanburg County yesterday, an impatient driver recklessly cut off a van along that stretch of highway. The van driver overcompensated trying to keep his vehicle out of danger. Investigators are uncertain right now if the van hit Joe or if it slammed into the news vehicle and the news vehicle hit Joe.

I wonder if the impatient driver was hurrying home to see his kids. Joe has kids, too. I’m sure the driver learned this information on the 11p news last night. He certainly didn’t stick around scene to find out. When the police find him (or her) and take him to jail, I wonder if his kids will miss their father. I also wonder if this man (or, again, woman) has enough integrity to step up to the plate and turn himself in. I wonder if he even knows it’s his time to bat or did his impatiens leave him blind to everything that happened, everything except that which was in front of him.

Joe died doing that for which his professional life was dedicated. He will be deeply missed.

More about Joe | More about Joe | More about Joe


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