Friday, November 2, 2012

My one and only fearless election prediction: or, why Joe Biden's flight delay will cost the Democrats North Carolina

About a month ago I'm flying home from New York and I had a connecting flight in Charlotte, North Carolina. I'd never flown through Charlotte before, and would later discover the airport gates were laid out by an architect thinking it would be cool to separate the gates by about five football fields.

Anyway, on this day the flight is going smooth. We actually took off on time (A small miracle flying out of New York) and were getting ready to land. Not a cloud in the sky. Beautiful day.

Until the pilot came on the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be in a holding period indefinitely because Joe Biden's plane is on the ground. No one is permitted to land or take off right now."

Now over the years I've heard the typical groans when announcements of weather or equipment delays were announced. But this little bit of information really struck a nerve with the passengers, many of whom were business travelers who had appointments to make. And more importantly, like me, connections to make.

The comments that floated around the cabin were priceless. The old Jewish man with the yarmulke sitting behind me called Biden an unflattering Yiddish term. Some guy from Charlotte wondered aloud why the VP didn't use a private airport where he wouldn't have to inconvenience everyone. Another man said, in a pretty loud voice, "He just lost my vote."

Forty minutes later we were given clearance to land. I looked at the board, and of course, the domino effect had taken place. Everything was delayed by forty minutes. Which of course would no doubt create another domino effect across the country.

After getting in my two mile run to my connecting gate, I noted Senator John McCain was in line to board my flight. This part of the story will come into play later. I had never met him so I went up and introduced myself. Nice guy.

So now we board the flight and we've taxied down the runway. And then the dreaded intercom again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are not able to take off because of Air Force Two. There will be an indefinite delay."

A guy a few rows in front of me, who had obviously been delayed on a previous flight, yells, "Again with Joe Biden!" The guy next to me says, "He's just doing it to get back at  John McCain."

So, after all those delays, I'm just wondering how many passengers got ticked off that day in North Carolina. Granted, not all of them live there. But if Romney carries that state by a handful of votes, you can trace it back to the day the VP tied up the airport.

And that's the only prediction you'll get out of me.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Everything's on hold

If you're sending out tapes right now and not getting any response, fear not. There are three major reasons:

1. November sweeps

2. The election

3. Hurricane Sandy

The election will be out of the way in a week. Sweeps will be out of the way in a month. Hurricane damage won't be out of the way for a year. If you're applying to a station in the Northeast, fuhgeddaboudit.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The "duh" factor of hurricane coverage

So this morning I'm calling all my East Coast friends and family, and I've been through enough hurricanes to know I shouldn't waste time with cell phone calls and emails. Land lines always work, though, but the others are iffy when the power's out.

And yet two days ago I saw anchor after anchor tell viewers to check the Internet for updates to the storm. Even those geniuses at FEMA told people to use social media to stay informed.

Well, DUH!!!!! If there's no power, your desktop computer won't work, your laptop will eventually die, cell service is out in lots of places, and your Internet connection is most likely dead. Unless you have a battery powered TV, you're looking at a dark screen.

What works? Old fashioned land lines will generally always work when the power goes out.

But in our technology obsessed society, news people and the government miss the obvious point: it takes power to run technology.

Did I see anyone suggest that people get those hand crank radios to stay in touch? Nope. Did I see anyone remind the public land lines will work, and what number to call for information? No.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane warning

Many of you in the Northeast have never covered a hurricane, so time for the semi-annual warning not to get killed covering the storm.

Don't underestimate Mother Nature. Case in point: while I was covering Hurricane Isaac in August, at one point I actually had to get down on all fours to cross the street because I was being blown off my feet. And this was only a category one hurricane.

Getting too close to the water is another big risk. Water can trump anything: brick, steel, and easily the human body.

Flying debris is another danger: 75 mile per hour winds can send wood and metal flying at you like a rocket.

So don't be stupid. You may think doing a live shot on the water's edge is more dramatic, but it's just dumb. And you may think that kind of shot on your resume tape will get you a job, but News Directors have seen hundreds of those.

Safety first. No story is worth dying for.