I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have gone live on YNN more over the past three weeks… than I will in the next few months, or even in the next year. Such is the nature of hyperlocal cable TV… we just don’t go live all the time. It’s not practical, considering that we must have content 24 hours a day.
But these past 21 days have been a blur of live love. The love of going live.
You may be confused. Didn’t this aspiring journalist anchor live shows at her previous gig? What’s so addictive about going live now?
Here’s what I’ve done in the past three weeks:
1. Anchor Travers Day coverage: one live segment at the top of each hour, which includes spontaneous talkbacks between the anchor in studio, the sports director and reporter live at the track, and an interview with whichever guest happened to show up on time. Approx. 9 minutes total, all about a topic I am not familiar with, but thoroughly researched. However, don’t ask me what pari-mutuel means.
2. Wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Irene: six hours straight of anchoring from the desk with colleague Steve Ference, as we discussed what residents needed to know, spoke with reporters who were live out in the storm and/or flooding, interviewed local officials about the conditions of their jurisdictions and broke in with any immediate updates we received via email, our producers, and of course, Twitter.
3. The New York State Fair: anchored two live shows, each on average, 15 minutes long. I was bummed that it was raining, but hey, at least there was a stuffed dog that accompanied me on our set.
4. Breaking news cut-ins for Southern Tier flooding: twice an hour, breaking in for 3-5 minutes at a time, with the latest facts on the flooding that residents would want to know. Many of the segments I researched and produced on my own.
All of this unscripted. No teleprompter. And therein lies the thrill.
Speaking without a script is frighteningly exhilarating. When you don’t know what your next complete thought is going to be. When you aren’t sure that you’ll have enough content to fill the time. When you are trying to control the “um”s, the “ah”s and your trembling hands. Frightening and exhilarating.
People have asked, “How do you come up with enough to say to fill that time?” I do research in advance, jot down thoughts on post-its, get inspired by another person’s remarks… and repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Hey, it’s cable TV, viewers expect repetition 🙂 Sometimes you don’t even know what is about to come out of your mouth. You just hope it’s something that sounds semi-intellectual. Thank goodness I’m not in the habit of swearing! It’s that risk, knowing the pressure is all on you… that gets my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping. To be honest, I’m even surprised by my positive response to this. I’ve never been categorized as the adventurous risk-taker; in fact, I tend to be methodical and careful in life. Maybe this is one way for me to exhibit my inner daredevil.
Then again, I WAS part of my high school’s improvisation team (What?! Yes, I’m as taken aback as you are).
Looking back on these past weeks, there were moments I failed miserably in clearly communicating information and news. There were also times when I succeeded in delivering the content with confidence and sympathy. With so many opportunities, I’ve had to stagger a few steps back, but then move forward with strong strides.
Now to have more paths to keep walking on.
(Not that I’m asking for more natural disaster stories. 2011 has seen enough.).