A Bond Like No Other

It should come as no surprise that TV news is one big, giant dysfunctional family.  There’s always the sullen cousin, the overzealous, giddy tween sibling and the cantankerous, crusty uncle. In news, you find a common thread with those people you work with – folks who share nearly identical angst, lofty ideals and ever-present enthusiasm.  I know this because the people I worked alongside 20+ years ago at my first TV station remain some of my closest friends to this day. TV news people likely coined the term “the struggle is real” – because it oh-so is.

But – make no mistake – there is no stronger bond in news than between a reporter and videographer who respect (adore? cherish?) each other. Looking back, I’ve shared plenty of high-fives, nervous breakdowns and hysterical laughing fits with the men and women who man that camera. And in light of today’s tragic events in Virginia, I have no doubt that Alison Parker and Adam Ward were teammates, colleagues and maintained that classic little sister/big brother working relationship. I didn’t know them, but felt like I did. Everyone in TV knows that particular combo is hard to beat and almost impossible to duplicate.

When I started in TV in Des Moines, I had no idea what I was doing. None. Zilch. Zip. Ask anyone. The only thing I knew for certain was I was in WAY over my head.  Little by little, the station’s veteran photographers took the time to show me the ropes.  They did so – probably begrudgingly — but I never knew it. Those photographers were my touchstones. One part therapist, one part mentor and one part referee.  (Shout out, Cortney. Props, DSD. Hugs, Donna. Kudos, Sims and Lil’ Ricky. So true, Hanu!) They were older, wiser and always hungry. You want to keep a photog happy? Feed them. They’re like tripod-carrying bears … bears who always seem to be on the cusp of low blood sugar.

I would do just about anything to 1) keep my videographer content and 2) somehow try to impress them/make them proud. Eventually, you settle in to a nice little groove where you can read your photographer’s mind. With a furtive glance, you can tell exactly when they want you to wrap up an interview or when to help them with the 100lbs of gear they schlep around.

I’m going to bed tonight with that picture of Parker and Ward goofing around seared in to my head. The genuine smiles on their young faces should be the ones firmly implanted in everyone’s medulla oblongata. In every article I’ve read, it always mentions how well they worked together and complimented each other. Yin to yang. Again – it proves my theory that the TV photog/reporter bond knows no bounds.

I hope some of my TV friends read this tonight and then go give your favorite (or even your not-so favorite) photog a lingering hug. Reporters and photogs are kindred spirits and it’s a shame we lost two of them today to such a senseless crime.

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Dad At The Fair

Let it be known that my father loves him some Iowa State Fair. He’s been a regular there ever since he was a wee one. I think he once told me his first visit was way back in 1932. Now, if you ask him about any of his previous Fair experiences, be ready to settle in for a spell. My dad will regale you with stories galore. He’s like a 90-year old version of books on tape.

In the last couple years, however – Dad has slowed down to a near glacial pace, so seeing the Fair in earnest has become cumbersome.  Cue my friend Heather who has graciously offered to squire my father around the fairgrounds in a golf cart for the last several years. Dad has become so accustom to this luxury that he’ll now have a list in his head of the places he’d like to see. (And by places he’d like to see, I mean – food vendors he’d like to solicit).

We were nary in the park thirty seconds before he announced he’d like a cinnamon roll – “but I want the one with pecans … you know, a sticky bun.” Since everything is supersized at the Fair, I wisely split one with him. 1) Because he’s diabetic, 2) because I don’t want to border on diabetes and 3) the cinnamon roll was the size of his head.

Apparently, pecans and caramel and dough can singlehandedly help my father reach some sweet level of Nirvana. When I offered him a sip of my Chai tea, he willingly tried it. And then quickly shot me a look that said … never offer me this craptastic drink again.

Do keep in mind I’m hyper protective of my dad … always looking after him and being mindful of his occasional limitations. My friend Heather, meanwhile, dotes on him endlessly. Over the years she’s become the Bobby Shuttle Service. “Your father is like a Faberge’ egg,” Heather told me. “I feel the need to protect him and ensure he’s still having fun.” (He’d never admit it, but I think he eats it up – along with whatever fried item is put in front of him.)

In our travels yesterday, we swung by the Fox News hangout where Dad got to meet stalwart political reporter Carl Cameron. His head then proceeded to explode. (Uh, my Dad’s – not Carl’s.) See, Dad is a Fox News junkie. He DVRs each show and watches them several times just to make sure he’s not missing anything. I swear if Bill O’Reilly said the sky was green, my dad would believe it without going outside to check on status quo. He had a lovely chat with Carl about politics, the state of political affairs in the U.S. and, of course, Sean Hannity. (And then MY head exploded.)

It was fun to watch Dad wolf down his obligatory corn dog and wash it down with Hoppy’s homemade, legendary State Fair lemonade. He dutifully traipsed around the Ag Building to see the Butter Cow. And he gently moseyed around the cattle barn. At some point along the way, we took a couple selfies — which may be his first, but he can’t be sure. By the end of the second hour – he was good to go. I know this because he mentioned, “I’m good to go.”

He came. He saw. He wolfed down 3,000 calories. All in all, I’d say another successful fair-going experience for me and dad … uh, and Heather’s Bobby Shuttle Service.

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