In the old days (my kids just cringe when I start a story like that) we had people who operated the cameras in the studio and a person called the floor director. As well as making sure ties were straight and hair wasn't sticking up, their main job was to cue us to the camera that was hot, count us down to stories and keep us posted on time. Susie Bouse was the sweetest, always making sure everything was just perfect on the set, and Sean Smith was definitely the funniest. He also had an uncanny ability to predict whether snow would REALLY stick in the valley.
But now our cameras are robotic and run by one person out of a master control room.The director and producer for each newscast just give us the cues through an earpiece we wear on the set. It's connected to a wireless transmitter and even though they are clear down the hall in a room full of buttons and monitors they come through loud and clear.
Most of the time.
Then there was last night during our Decision 2008 political show at 7pm. In our segment called the Hot Box, we interview different candidates and pundits about the issues. Last night I was interviewing Democratic Senate Candidate Jeff Merkley. He's of course running against the Republican Gordon Smith and unless you've been in hiding (and who could blame you) you know the ads have been nasty.
So I put some time in the afternoon to coming up with a list of questions hoping to get at some actual issues. It was a long list of questions that I knew I would never get through, but better to be over prepared, right?
So I get a cue in my ear to go... and the interview begins. And it goes on... and on... and on.
At one point while Speaker Merkley is answering and I'm off camera, I start sifting through my papers thinking I'm about out of questions here... I didn't want to have to pull the old boxers or briefs? out of the hat. Kidding.
Then out of the corner of my eye I see Laural over on the set jumping up and waving her hands around like she's trying to lasso cattle. Odd I think. Then I realize she is trying to wrap me up with the signal the floor directors use to use! Somehow during the interview the level on my earpiece got turned down or disconnected and I hadn't been getting any cues at all. I was about to talk us right out of time!
The director says at one point he even brought the theme music up under my interview like on the awards show when someone is going to long! I'm just lucky they didn't fade to black.
It turned out okay, except for Matt who only got 30 seconds for weather. And for Senator Smith who was on the night before and probably didn't get quite as much airtime. Oh well at least we still have all those ads!
As always thanks for watching,