Monday, January 28, 2013

The Lid's Off the Box

I didn’t really have time today to explain on-air why I decided to launch our new morning show by performing Michigan J. Frog’s one mega-hit!

Back on October 24th 2011, News Director Karen Macdonald was heading out for a quick bite to eat with Managing Editor Alexandra Henderson, Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard and Mike Omelus, currently a Senior Director for Shaw Media. Karen suggested I tag along, so I did.

At the restaurant across from our office at Peel and Ste-Catherine, they were explaining to Mike who I was and what I did in the newsroom. One of the women described me as the frog in the 1955 Bugs Bunny cartoon, “One Froggy Evening”! They told Mike, like the cartoon frog who suddenly performed when his box lid was opened, I suddenly perform when the cameras come on!

That I was the performing frog, was news to me!

When Karen offered me the position as host of the new morning show January 3rd, I thought to myself, these crazy people are swinging open the box lid and letting the performing frog loose!

Singing Michigan J. Frog’s trademark number to launch Global Montreal Morning News this morning, seemed, to me, entirely fitting!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drench City

We arrived in New York City late Friday afternoon and by the time we got our dogs, Moose and Spike, settled-in at the hotel, the clock had begun ticking! Tristan had his eye on limited edition headphones at the one and only Beats store in the world.

Our hotel was on West 46th, between Times Square and Avenue of the Americas, right around the corner from NHL offices. Undaunted by the pouring rain, we headed off to this one and only Beats store in the world.

We walked in the rain for about six kilometres to Green Street in Soho, asking directions from various New Yorkers along the way. All of them were eager to help, although some, had us heading back from where we had come, before others returned us to the proper heading.

In the end, we made it to the store before its 7 o’clock closing time. We were drenched and some of us had aching feet – moi! The two brothers who run the store, David and Drew, were impressed with our blistering trek, claiming the headphones had been sold-out until that very day!

We snapped a few pictures of the one and only Beats store in the world and began the walk back to the hotel.

Walking is a great way to see New York City; even in the rain!

On the way back, we, inadvertently, walked past a murder scene on Spring Street in Soho. There were obligatory stops at Hollister, Bath and Body Works and the Supra store. We walked by Grace Church, with its stunning Gothic revival architecture, near East 11th and Broadway.

We got back to the hotel, saturated with New York City rainwater, but stoked the headphones had been available at the one and only Beats store in the world.

Final News Final

Someone on the crew turned out the studio lights just as I was about to pull open the door. It was January 8th and I’d just finished my final “News Final”! Wistfully, I turned back to watch the studio darken.

I’d been doing “News Final”, Global Montreal’s late-weeknight newscast, for more than a year. Since news about the morning show was officially released yesterday, I can finally admit to viewers I am no longer anchoring “News Final”.

There are exceptions, but, generally, newscasts are well-defined, with no real mysteries. I know when to start talking and when to stop. I know when tapes start and when they end. Everything is timed and scripted. I can build the newscast and move stories around in order to differentiate “News Final” from our earlier, evening newscast. In terms of writing and story line-up, “News Final” reflected my news judgement.

It was fun and I was happy to work at attracting more viewers to the show. I had a great team of people working on the newscast, including Alfred, Kevin, Trena, Cam, Adam and Robyn, aka “Klash”! They ran tapes, put up supers, worked prompter, checked timing, solved problems, gave me my cues and helped fulfill the illusion of competence on my part. I appreciate their professionalism, dependability, humor and attention.The goal, for us, every night, was perfection! '

Circumstances conspire and confounding variables, lurk. We worked every night to avoid spelling mistakes and technical glitches and when we succeeded at avoiding those, I’d, inevitably, stammer, gag, or crack my voice. My tie might be crooked, a glaring white flake might be perched on the shoulder of my jacket, or a hidden piece of turkey sandwich might suddenly dislodge itself from between my teeth, only to soar, in a slow arc, toward the camera!

As he did his nightly rounds, Jerry, the security guard, would graciously ask how the newscast had gone. I would rate them on a scale of one-to-ten.

While filling-in on the December 4th evening newscast, I can remember doing a “five”! We were testing a state-of-the-art newscast automation system called Mosart. Kinks were being worked out. The script for every story would appear in the teleprompter and then, promptly, disappear! Normally, with relatively minimal stumble, I would continue reading from the paper copy on the desk in front of me, but, that night, the newsroom printer had smudged all the words on the right-hand side of the page, beyond intelligibility.

Even in giganta-font, which I use so my eyes have an easier time reading off the page, I couldn’t decipher the smudged words! As a result, I had to guess how sentences on the paper in front of me were meant to be written! Fortunately, every time a two-minute report aired, I would ask the crew, who I hear in my earpiece, to read me the full sentences of stories coming up, so that I could hurriedly scribble the missing right-hand chunks, in ink!

Offered the huge opportunity by Global Montreal News Director, Karen Macdonald, earlier this month, I’ve decided to host Global Montreal’s new morning show. It’ll be challenging and fun. I’ll have a chance to be creative and stretch myself in directions I’ve always enjoyed. Much of the three-hour show is unscripted and not nearly as defined as my thirty-minute "News Final" broadcast! Nevertheless, I’ll continue striving to do the best job I possibly can.

The day after my final “News Final”, I participated in a photo shoot in Verdun, where I met Camille Ross and Jessica Laventure.