Saturday, November 06, 2004

WEEK

I remember my first live shot at WEEK. It was at Bradley and in my sightline were parked live trucks from 25 and 31. I was just praying I didn't tag out with "CBS 31 News."

Coming to 25 after having spent a couple years at 31 gave me an interesting perspective. WEEK is more conservative, but being the dominant number one station, I fully expected that. Having worked at a similar station in California, I saw first hand how you get credit for a lot of things, but you also get blamed for other stations coverage. When you're number one in television, it's more important that you don't offend your base audience.

There were lots of new things to learn here too. I was doing weather, something I had done just a couple of times out west. I was using a non-linear editing system for the first time. And I was working at a place that had more 75% of it's staff from the area or had worked at the station for 5 to 10 years or more. For a market this size, that's remarkable.

In the course of our work, Shannon and I were became the targets of Matt Hale and his World Church of the Creator. I think he felt threatening public figures was a good way to get attention and he did just that.

It was difficult for us at the time, but the response of support from viewers... by card and letters, e-mail and in person was so overwhelming. It made us feel like such a part of the community.

That fall, Josh Simon and I did a feature called "Pregnant for a Day." With the help of Methodist
Medical Center, I spent a day of work in an "empathy belly" to get a better understanding of how my wife got through a day of work. It was a terrific experience personally and professionally.

Shannon had our first child, a boy, in January of 2001. After two months of maternity leave, she decided that she wanted to stay home with him and didn't want to report any more, which was fine except that we were about to lose two-fifths of our income and added another mouth to feed.

It wasn't more than a week later when my friend, Aaron, a producer in the television group at my current company called. We worked together at WMBD and his boss wanted to talk to me about an opening in their department. It was actually to replace one of our bosses at WMBD who was moving to another position in the company.

Maybe there was divine intervention, but I ended up getting the job and it paid enough to make up the difference for Shannon to stay home. My last show was March 25, 2001. Pretty much no one was watching that night... rare for WEEK... because it was Oscar night. Heck, even my co-anchor Gina was home. She hosts an Oscar party every year.

A couple weeks later, while on vacation in California, I got a message from Jonathan Ahl. "Pregnant for a Day" had won best feature from the Illinois Associated Press. I'm not big on awards, but it was a great way to end one phase of a career and start another.