This week, we steal from my TV days in Sioux City, Iowa.
I’ve enlisted my former colleague, Angie Goff, to write while vacationing at Ocean Key Resort and Spa on Duval.
Some background on Angie:
Our news director, Tedd O’Connell gave her my number. She’d applied for a reporting position at our Midwest training ground. She’d be coming to Sioux City from a stint as Mark Steines’ intern at Entertainment Tonight. Angie was living in Los Angeles and working in Hollywood, yet she pulled up in a U-Haul to live in an income-based apartment above the town’s bars to hone her journalism skills at KMEG-TV.
Her perky personality made her known across the tri-state. Also, the learning curve ahead of her was a large one. But, either you have talent or you don’t. There isn’t much forgiveness in the arena of television.
Luckily, we were learning about our chosen profession from a man I dubbed, the “Jedi Master of Journalism,” Tedd O’Connell. The notorious Tedd O’Connell had a 20-year run as a main anchor before the inception of cable television.
He was big time. He even emulated Yoda with his spiky, gray hair and pointed eyebrows to match.
He physically stood 5’3”, but his presence touched the ceilings.
He would sit us down every morning at 9 am. We’d share our story ideas, pull from pop culture, steal from what the women were talking about in the locker room at the Y, and yes, Angie once finally filed her report on probiotics.
The term is called enterprise reporting, and is a theme on which The Weekly Newspapers is now based. Tedd simply demanded we think. He pushed us out of the newsroom and onto the streets. We pounded the pavement and were trained to ask the questions where, “they may not like you, but they will respect you.”
We carried out his consultant theory. Enterprise, enterprise, enterprise. We were 26-years old and feared by the chamber of commerce, the mayor, our state senators, and anyone who dared place themselves in public office.
Think of it as The Blue Paper on TV with sound bites, video, sweet graphics, and young reporters. He briefed us before we went out and taught us how to treat each piece. (Minus tasteless info reserved by any respectable journalist for family court.)
We learned how to think.
We took the jobs of the anchors, who didn’t have a desire to continue to work as hard, or the talent to make it anywhere else.
Angie covered babies being tossed in the trash, the notorious Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration and plenty of features to make an 80-minute demo tape. She left to take a position in South Carolina where she met her husband and has since moved on to the CBS affiliate in Washington DC.
Having known her for so long, all I have to do to manage this guest columnist is ask
“Hey, want to write something up?”
“Sure. I’ll send you the pics.”
Tedd died two years ago. He was diagnosed with cancer and even after radiation, the disease covered every organ in his body.
Angie called me crying. She didn’t say goodbye. She thought he would make it through one more week.
She once showed up at a party at his house with two dates. She kept her position even after botching a live shot. She laughed it off when he said, “Get in my office. I need to talk to you about binding your feet.”
Her assignment was in my inbox 18 hours early because I know she was trained to think.
Ditto for my new writers and columnists.
As my brother frequently says while running around the office, “Sweet, sweet action!”