Monday, December 26, 2005

The Adventure Begins

I’m blogging from a Chicago hotel… having trouble falling asleep as a great adventure awaits. Tomorrow (actually later this morning) my family will embark on a journey to the Philippines. Just getting there with my mom, my wife, our three kids, my sister, her husband and their baby, my cousin, her husband and their two kids is going to be challenging to say the least. We’re flying Chicago to Atlanta… Atlanta to LA… LA to Anchorage… Anchorage to Taipei… Taipei to Manilla… to meet up with my dad… and then a two hour van ride to my dad’s hometown.

I haven’t been back since I was 15 and to be honest, didn’t really appreciate it then… so I see this trip as one of discovering my roots… really finding out what it was like for my parents to grow up here, what it was like to leave and what it is about the life here that seems to be pulling my dad back.

I will be learning about people with whom I shared great grandparents and great great grandparents… about the culture… about the area.

I’m not sure what access I will have, but I’ll try to share my experiences with you, my friends and readers.

Thanks to our house sitters and “volunteer“ cleaners for showings, to Josh for dealing with fantasy football commissioner duties, to Bart for handling Airwaves managerial duties.

Ten Years Ago This Week…

As we were driving up to Chicago tonight, I realized that this is a significant week in my life. It was ten years ago this week that I did something to significantly change the course of my career and my life as documented in one of my first posts and a later one.

And eight years ago this week, I flew home to surprise my parents and spend a romantic day and a half with a girl who wouldn’t move across country with me… at least not then. This first visit was big for us because with the distance, it could have been easy enough for both of us to “move on” without the other.

Shannon and I were talking about this and I wondered aloud what might have happened to me. She thinks I’d still be in news in some big market. Maybe, but I think I’d be alone. Just a hunch. I looked back at my kids, laughing at a DVD they were watching and realized a different path would mean I wouldn’t have them and told her, “it wouldn’t have been worth it” because in the end... it just wouldn’t.

It is amazing where life takes you… and I am so thankful for the different experiences I’ve had and the gifts I have received, but especially for this family I have been blessed with.

Anatomy Of A Fantasy Football Championship

So it happened. I won my fantasy football Super Bowl. Always helps to be a little lucky. I fielded the best possible lineup meaning no players on my bench would have helped me score higher than 118. My opponent, Joel, wasn’t as lucky. On his bench were Kyle Boller (32), Julius Jones (32) and Terry Glenn (14) which would have brought him to 121. But Boller generally stinks, and Jones/Glenn were going up against the Panthers defense on the road… so he really can’t second guess his lineup.

I think only three or four people have ever won the WEEK Alumni (now Market 117) FFL, so I’m pretty proud of my accomplishment. Much of what I know about fantasy football, I learned from Marc Strauss and he always says, it’s not about draft night, but about the adjustments you make throughout the year.

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that was especially true for me this year.

I started off with a core of Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Chris Brown/Thomas Jones, Terell Owens and Steve Smith.

I had a specific draft strategy of targeting a high scoring team’s (Chiefs) QB/RB combo so in theory, I’d get 90% of their touchdowns. With the elimination of our flex position this year I took an elite WR (Owens) with my second pick and targeted Smith whose stock was down coming off a broken leg. I had hoped, with Holmes being so injury prone to pick up Larry Johnson in round six, but my brother beat me to him.

I traded Green and Jones for Culpepper and Roy Williams (to someone who needed a solid RB)… traded Roy Williams for Willie Parker (to someone who needed a bye week WR) and then traded Parker to my brother for Johnson (he needed a starting RB for depth). This was my third or fourth attempt to pry Johnson away... persistence pays off.

When Culpepper went down, I dropped him and picked up Warner.

Lost Holmes, which actually worked out fantasy wise as Johnson became a true #1 RB.

I still wasn’t sure if Warner was going to be my QB, so I traded Chris Brown, Chris Simms and Laveranues Coles (to someone who needed a RB) for Drew Bledsoe (he had Bulger), TJ Houshmandzadeh and an injured Fred Taylor (I could afford to wait on Taylor, all but one of his RBs were injured at the time).

But just after that trade, I thought Warner always has to throw cause the Cardinals are always losing and have no running game, but he is injury prone. But I thought if I can get his backup and upgrade my #2 RB spot I'll live with him. So I traded Bledsoe, Mewelde Moore and Steve Smith (to someone who lost McNabb and was down to Kyle Orton as his QB) for Steven Jackson, Josh McCown (Warner backup) and Larry Fitzgerald. I hated to lose Smith (this year’s #1 WR), but figured Fitzgerald was just notch below, but Jackson was a huge upgrade at RB.

In the end, it was Taylor, finally healthy with a great matchup vs. Houston and McCown, playing for Warner who I had anticipated would get hurt, that led me to the win.
For those of you who don’t play… this might not mean much, but I know several regular readers who can appreciate the effort.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Market 117 Fantasy Football Super Bowl

So it comes down to this for bragging rights...

Edgar's team
McCown
L. Johnson
F. Taylor
Houshmandzadeh
Fitzgerald
Witten
Bironas
Steelers D/ST

Joel's team
Garrard
Dunn
Droughnes
Holt
J. Smith
Cooley
Kaeding
Bengals D/ST

TV News For Dummies - Phone Calls

With all the jobs open here and this being a pretty good time of year to look (between sweeps... good not great cause of vacations) I thought I'd post this thought.

So you want to get an on-air job. You've put together a tape and sent a resume and cover letter. And now you wait. The ad says "no calls." But you wonder does "no calls" mean "NO CALLS?"

There are two schools of thought here...

The one that I think a lot of people want to believe in is you should call... the logic being if a news director is looking for a reporter... they're looking for someone who is aggressive and in your mind calling = being aggressive... even if it's just calling to "make sure your tape arrived."

Is this right? Yes and no.

I know there are news directors who will take the time to talk, they may or may not have watched your tape. Maybe they see it in the pile when you call and can tell you that... or maybe they keep a log of tapes that have come in. Maybe they're like Jim Garrott at 25 who is always keeping his eyes and ears open for talent.

I also know there are NDs who just don't want to deal. They're going to look at tapes and call the people they like... just that simple. Early on in my career, I called, but eventually I embraced that notion. News directors are busy... they're dealing with the newsroom and dealing with their bosses. I'm going to guess most don't feel like they have time to take a call from every single person who sent a tape. Some may even ask you if you can follow directions because it says "no calls."

Yes, there are slight differences between how you approach producing positions and on-air... but I really think if they like you, if they really like you, they'll call... and no amount of calling on your part is going to change their mind if they don't. Yes, I know someone can pull out the extreme example of someone getting a job through persistence, but bottom line is if your tape stinks, the great majority of NDs aren't going to hire you.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

So my oldest then asks me, "Daddy, what did you ask for from Santa?"

I told him I didn't ask for anything and that every day I have with my three kids is my gift.

I think he was hoping I would say something Mutant Ninja Turtles...

From The Mouths Of Babes

My four year old was playing with a toy phone his sister got for Christmas. For those of you who aren't convinced that kids pick up everything, I catch him yelling into the phone the following:

"You call every day. Take us off your list!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

House Update

A number of people have asked for new pics of the house, but something is wrong with the program I use to post. House is going well and we should move in sometime in February. Not in time for the Super Bowl, but maybe in time for Shannon to watch Olympic Figure skating in HD.

Appellate Court Orders Hearing In Former Anchors' Lawsuit

This is the latest on the battle between former WCIA anchors and Nexstar which also owns WMBD.

From AP story dated 12/16/2005

A state appellate court says a former husband-wife anchor team for a Champaign area television station should get a lower court hearing on their breach-of-contract lawsuit.
The 4th District Appellate court decision reverses a Champaign County judge's ruling granting summary judgment to Nexstar Broadcasting in the lawsuit brought by former WCIA-Channel 3 anchors Jerry Slabe and Marta Carreira-Slabe.
The couple were fired from WCIA more than five years ago after refusing to comply with Nexstar's edict that they increase the number of hours they worked.
The Slabes cited contracts signed in 1997 with previous station owner Midwest Television Inc., which sold WCIA to Nexstar in July 1999. Jerry Slabe said Friday that Nexstar was unwilling to negotiate a new agreement.
"It was never about the hours, it was always about the principle," Marta Carreira-Slabe added. "About them coming in and ... unilaterally changing the rules without regard for agreements or promises."
Messages left Friday at Irving, Texas-based Nexstar were not immediately returned.
Jerry Slabe, who had worked for WCIA since 1977, was working about 25 hours while his contract paid him $2,450 a week. Carreira-Slabe, who had worked at the station since 1986, made $935 a week for about 17 hours as part of a three-year contract.
Nexstar told the couple they'd be working longer hours beginning in January 2000. When the Slabes didn't report for their new hours, Nexstar placed them on administrative leave and eventually stopped paying them. They were fired in June 2000.
The appellate court ruled Nexstar's requirement that the Slabes significantly increase their working hours "was inconsistent with Jerry's and Marta's employment history and their reasonable expectations and was a violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing."
Carreira-Slabe said Nexstar has until Dec. 21 to ask the state Supreme Court to take up the appeal, but said the appellate decision is promising.

Home Sick Today

Spent most of the day in bed/on the couch except for getting my oldest from pre-school. The baby has been sick since Sunday and I've caught whatever it is has got him down. Sorry to Airwaves teammates... I meant to collect money tonight, but I just don't want to leave the house.

Looking To Leave

WPTZ Burlington VT/Plattsburgh NY has openings for a weekend sports anchor, a producer and a photographer. I don't generally do plugs for out of market positions, but I've got a couple of reasons.

One, when I was an anchor/reporter in Monterey, the weeknight 11PM producer was Kyle Grimes who is now the ND at WPTZ. He's a great guy and I'd work for him. I won't say that about lots of people.

Two, if you're into the outdoors, Burlington is a great market. It is a beautiful part of the country... lots of skiing etc. in the winter. My sister played soccer for the University of Vermont and got to visit a few times.

It isn't significantly bigger than Peoria in terms of market size (90), but it is nice scenery and the company owns many stations in larger markets and if you do well, there is opportunity to move.

Fantasy Super Bowl

For those of you following along, the Market 117 fantasy football league's Super Bowl is this coming weekend. I have made the finals and will play against Josh Simon's brother, Joel.

Something tells me the fantasy gods are conspiring against me. I have managed to lose daunte Culpepper, Priest Holmes and Terrell Owens for the year and last week lost Warner for the big game. Still I suppose you could look at it the other way... I made it, right? Steve Gehlbach's dynamic duo of Ladanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates came up empty.

So readers who play... I'll take input on QBs. I traded for Josh McCown right before the deadline knowing how brittle Warner can be. I've also got Jeff Garcia (although he may benched) and Charlie Frye (against Pittsburgh). I get one waiver pick and am considering the following: Rex Grossman (against my Packers), Todd Bouman (vs. Lions who... are the Lions), sage Rosenfels (if Ferrotte is out vs. Titans and their 29 passing TDs given up), Jamie Martin (if Fitzpatrick sits against the 49ers... hey its still the Rams) and Kyle Boller (against the Vikings who are desperate and may be tough).

Not a lot of good stuff out there and I have some ideas, but weigh in if you wish.

Big Changes At The Alois House

Congrats to John and Jolie Alois on quite a significant career month. John will be leaving WMBD next month for a video producer job at State Farm. Jolie has moved up to News Director at WHOI.

Like me, neither of them are from around here, but Central Illinois works out really well for the family situation and I'm glad to see good things happen for a great couple!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lots Of Jobs In Market 117

Sweeps is over... the holidays are here... and there are lots of TV news job openings in Market 117.

WEEK is looking for a reporter and a 5pm producer (BTW, Shannon is doing some fill in producing next week, but she's not giving up her job that pays in hugs and kisses).

WHOI has ads posted for a morning anchor, reporter and an executive producer.

WMBD is looking for a photographer and a reporter.

This is the kind of situation I would have jumped at while in college. This is a perfect roadtrip situation for someone in a smaller market or someone in a larger market who is either part time or doing more support work and wants to get full time experience.

A New Baby Batton

Congrats to Greg and Yvonne...

The Battons welcomed Justice Gregory Batton, into the world on Wednesday morning. He weighed 9 lb. 6 oz.

The On Air Goodbye

A nice goodbye from the News 25 nightside crew to Melissa Dunton whose last night was tonight. When I was at 31, a bunch of us would conspire to do a goodbye video for pretty much everyone who would leave. Unless you were on the Morning Mix in which case Mark would do a really nice video...

Loved Mac's line about the fear of working more when someone leaves... a joke of course because Mac and Mike will do whatever it takes to pick up the slack when needed. I've been told the crew is meeting up at the Basket Case tonight after the shows.

As previously mentioned, Melissa is moving on to a communications job at Cat.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Amanda Says Goodbye

After 11 years, Amanda Wozniak, news director at WHOI is leaving the Heart of Illinois! Amdana started there when she got out of ISU and worked her way up from producer to ND. her last day is Friday.

As the invite from Jolie Alois says: whether you’re a co-worker, friend, fellow board member, or even the competition… come help us say goodbye!

Where: Kelleher’s
Date: Saturday, December 10
Time: 7:30pm - ???

Hometeamer Follows The Yellow Brick Road

WEEK is also losing someone this week. Melissa Dunton is leaving 25 to work at Caterpillar. She'll be working in Aurora in the very near future.

Her going away party is Friday, December 9th, 10:00 at the "old" Old Chicago (riverfront).