INVESTIGATING NEPA August 26, 2017
This weekend, I am thinking of my friend Drew Speier, the former WBRE anchor who is now the main anchor and news director of a station in Corpus Christi, Texas. As I write this, he’s likely been up all night, in wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Harvey which slammed into the Texas coast. And his photographers and reporters in the field are running on adrenaline and caffeine getting their first look at the damage as the sun rises. There is devastation, there have been deaths, and there will be incredible stories of survival, and stories of foolish risks that people take, i.e. hurricane parties, where people were lucky to survive.
I’ve been there, having covered several hurricanes during my time in Tampa, and in New Bern, NC. And there was a big difference, not in geography but in stage of career. In North Carolina, most of us covering hurricanes were inexperience, and quite frankly, taking risks that might get us the kinds of stories that we could put on tape (the medium in the 80’s), and get us to bigger markets. In Tampa, most photographers and reporters were at their professional destination, and the few that saw network gigs in their future had the hurricane experience to know what chances they could and could not take.
Which brings me back to my friend Drew, who in the relative comfort of a studio has one of the toughest jobs in Texas. The toughest job is supervising field crews not only when the winds howled and put people in the field at risk, but during the aftermath. That’s when tired crews have to avoid hidden hazards that include downed powerlines, frightened animals and reptiles, rusty nails from debris, and countless other dangers. Drew’s most important role will be to manage young reporters and photographers looking to knock their hurricane stories out of the park, and I think his leadership will do just that. Here’s hoping Drew’s crews emerge from the Hurricane Harvey experience safe, tired, and some great work to show for their efforts.
On another note, Greenville, North Carolina said goodbye to James Rouse, the owner of WOOW radio and other media properties. Mr. Rouse bought his station to give voice to Eastern North Carolina’s African-American community, and was one of the rare broadcasters who put progress over profit. He was also a community leader and a frequent go-to guy for me on news stories when I worked at WCTI-TV in the late 1980’s. The most enlightening conversation I ever had was about Historically Black Colleges as the debate over state funding for these institutions was threatened, as were the existence of these schools when some lawmakers proposed merging these institutions with other non-HBCs. Mr. Rouse pointed out, and evidence showed that African-Americans who graduated from HBC’s were better equipped to handle life after college than their counterparts who attended mainstream state schools. Mr. Rouse also loved to chat about the ups and downs, and quirks of the broadcasting business and loved to laugh. And he was a sage on life’s lessons. Our best conversations took place when he talked and we listened. Here's more by the Greenville Daily Reflector
Me, my mother, and my wife on anniversary night
FYI, I have taken more vacation time this August to celebrate 20-years of marriage with my wife Linda. Two kids, four communities, countless friends, and the best is yet to come. I may not have been on the air as often this summer, but this fall will be different, and I hope you like the investigative work that is still ahead. I’ll have some more on that in my next blog.