Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of The Worst

It's no secret that I love a good laugh. Since I'm in the the news business I get to see a lot of funny things and my peers are some of the funniest. Whether it's a slip of the tongue or a miss punch to the wrong video here are moments that warm our hearts, bring a smile to our face, and leave us with a ton of laughter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Days Of Future Past

The year was 1984. Gas was a $1.10 gallon. Tina Turner & Stevie Wonder were a couple of the big names in the Music World. You wanted to watch The Terminator at the movie theatre but got Ghostbusters instead, not a bad consolation prize. And why former WAFB'er Grey Hammett, photographer on the right, was making sure Ronald Dalton Dunnagan is in sight of his lens for the local news.

What is the the latter you ask?

It turns out the Dunnagan, middle of the picture, was implicated in a crime that caught a family off guard and leaving them with an infinite number of questions and no answers. It was late November in '84. Gary Keargan was leaving a local club with an associate thinking all was right in the world. Suddenly unforeseen events lead him to just vanish into the night sky. No one had seen or heard from Gary since. Time passes, the Police conduct their investigation which leads them Dunnagan and a female companion but things come to an impasse. The motive is there but the link is not. All of this had the making of the perfect crime novel.

Nearly three decades later, a family still has questions while a certain pair thought they had gotten away with their deeds. However, good old fashion police work with new technology said otherwise. What did you expect? After all it the had the makings of the perfect crime novel.

Editor's Note: Yeah I know the title of this entry is the name of a X Men comic book and could be turned into movie later. Believe me if that happens I can't wait to see it, did you know?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The MAD Hat Rant

There isn't any question that majority of football fans will get riled up before, during, and after the game. Seeing their team give everything they have withing the white boundary lines. However there are moments after the game that will leave some guessing. Leave some wonder what just happen. That moment is usually the Post Game Press Conference with the head coach. Down here there isn't a shortage of sound bites ready to roll. Down here we have LSU's Les Miles aka "The MAD Hatter".

The coach who has garnered a reputation of calling a Fake FG against South Carolina. Going 5 for 5 on 4th Down vs Florida. Doing a another Fake FG against hated Alabama. Alright the one against BAMA didn't work but you get the idea. There are unique thoughts that flow under the White Hat of Miles. You can only wonder what will he do or say next. But whatever you do don't question the effort of any of his players. Last Saturday was the result and it gave the college football one of the greatest rants since the famous, "Have A Great Day" speech.

Hey when you win 10 games a year on average, you can say whatever you want. Just be careful with the FCC.

Shadow In Time

Monday. The start to another week of roaming for stories that would somehow make the cut to fill slots in another newscast. Yeah the ideas look good on paper, most everything does. But when things don't go as plan what do you do?

Call the desk? Tell them that we may need to go to plan B. Just one problem, plan B is falling by the waist side. (sigh)

Do we just sit and wait at this one? Maybe, just maybe things will fall our way. Someone will come out and give us something totally unexpected. Something that will catch everyone's attention leaving the producers salivating in the afternoon meeting that they will start a UFC Battle Royal to see who will have it in their show first. Sadly that's usually not the case.

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and let the cards fall where they may. It's a nice day, not too warm perfect for this time of year in South LA. Why else would photojournalist extraordinaire Chris Sasser snap this cool picture. That plus it's also a short a week. Just pass the time somehow, did you know?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

She's Our Queen

As the calender turns to October, the crisp cool fall air begins to settle in all over. A nice change from the usual humidity I might add. It is also time for the annual homecoming festivities. The yearly tradition where alumni from all over return to place they once spent time at while advancing their educational opportunities. They return to share the memories that were forged in the past while creating new ones for the generations to come.

This year I missed Homecoming at my Alma Mata, comes with the territory never know where my next assignment is on Friday night. However I got a pretty good consolation prize. Word got back to us at the Big Raggedy, that a bunch kids were going to give a young lady the chance to live out the school year on cloud nine. Turns out the kids were going to campaign heavily in favor of not the most popular girl but rather the most deserving one.


A day and age where looks, popularity, and who you know give way to kids being unselfish? Pretty cool isn't it. Always good to tell some good news, did you know?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Deja Vu H2O

Senator's Log: August 29th, 2012. Down here in the Boot there is always the possibility of having to deal with another with a natural disaster of monumental proportions from June through November. That's just how it is, that's a way of life in the Sportsman's Paradise. Think about it seven years ago the mother of all storms came knocking on the door then eventually kicked it in with leaving everyone's jaw dropped and a great amount of devastation from wind and eventually water.

Fast forward to present day. A new storm decided to make it's way to SE LA. Only listed as a Category 1 but still had the potential to do leave it's mark on the area. A giant wet mark to be exact. With that said, the asylum pushed the alarm and we were in wall to wall coverage. For those not in the TV News Biz, crews were dispatched to affected areas and their only mission was to bring back what they can to fill what seemed like an infinite amount of time on the air. What made this one different wasn't just the wind but the constant bombardment of rain, rain, and more rain. It's seems like we would never dry out. 72 hours and a ton of wet clothes later, Isaac finally move on and the rising flood waters took it's place. From Plaquemines Parish to Livingston, water was Isaac's unwanted gift to us. It may have been a Cat 1 but the same sentiment of everyone was "We've never seen this much water before." Isaac certainly won't be forgotten and surely won't be missed.

Guess that the new wrinkle that we have to get ready for when the next one comes knocking. For now time to find a tailor. Never know when the next soaking is going to come.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

El Encierro of Nueva Orleans

Senator's Log: July 14th. 8AM. New Orleans. A place rich in diverse culture. A gumbo of international flavor that gives the city it's ambiance. Known for Mardi Gras during carnival but today it was time to pay homage to the tradition in Pamplona, Spain. It was time for El Encierro (bull run).

Thousands of people would converge on the Big Easy to test their strength and endurance while avoiding the ferocity of the bulls running rampant across the streets. It is run at your own risk. Throw in the added party atmosphere and you have a powder keg of humanity ready to explode at any moment. With the that much intense emotion no ordinary photographer could handle this sitution.

An assignment so dangerous, so deadly that only one man could pull this off. That man is Senator Roberto Del Rio. Known to many as El guapo fotógrafo Insane or The Insane Handsome Photographer. There is not much information on this mysterious individual. Those close to him tell me that he is a solid photojournalist, a fan of Licha Libre Wrestling in Mexico, and an admirer of Roller Derby. Guess he has a thing for beautiful women who deliver hip checks while wearing fishnets on roller skates. This will truly be a test of his skills. This is what he brought back and I'm sure he'll want to be a part of this tradition for years to come.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This Never Happens Here

Alright every photographer has had to run courthouse duty from time to time. Depending on the case things can be business as usual or something straight out of the UFC will break out. First you hope it's option B and second you hope that you are there to capture it. The only thing that was missing was Drowning Pool's classic single of mass chaos. This is probably why they don't allow camera anywhere near the courtrooms in the Boot. But I sure wish they would reconsider it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thank You George

There are those in our business that will be a fad. A fly by night image. A simple blip on the radar. Here one minute, gone the next second. None of those apply to the one known as George Sells. An iconic figure in the Television industry for over 50 years with roots firmly planted in the Red Stick for the past 25. You name the place, he's probably been there. Houston, Philly, Detroit, Nashville to name a few. He's had a run with the locals as well as with the "Big Boys" bringing an unique style of delivering the daily news to the masses all over the country.

The year was 1988. Baton Rouge was the next stop. Sells had arrive to a station that was sagging in the rating to the competition. Little did they the tide was about to change. The iconic figure and hard hitting journalist brought a that style & swagger and turned the little station on Government Street into well oiled machine. The rati ngs came, the quality of the product rose, the legacy continued. The ladies of South LA were forever grateful.

I remember the time I met George. A young photographer still in school. No idea what I was doing. Not very confident thoughts of do I belong here. Then there was one night scanner started blowing up. News time was closing in. Time to roll out. George knew in mind how he wanted to preset the story before I even shot it. I get to the scene, shoot some pictures, then head home. Once I'm back at the station, George just starts to debrief me on every little thing possible. I get most of everything but it was that one little detail that he had in mind that I didn't get. Naturally he upset at first but it's show time. Afterwards he tell me to just soak it all in. Get the essential but look beyond the obvious of the situation. Did a little deeper on what's going on and who it affects. After that I started to get the entire story and how to bring it back. That was the way Sells liked it. What was the one thing that no one but us was going to get. And if you heard that distinctive voice saying, "THAT'S GREAT!!!" coming from his desk you know you had his seal of approval.

Now the present where nothing is forever. Time had come to step aside and enjoy what path you left for those who follow. Thank you George, thank you for all that you have done. You were more than a hard hitting journalist. More than the anchor who manned the desk. You were our leader. Always ready to bring us aside to tell us how to get better. To live up to that standard that you set so high. The newsroom won't be the same with out the news hound getting every little detail in to a script with one ear on the scanner and a bag of M&M's with a Dr. Pepper within arm's reach. It's been said before and we'll keep saying it...

Thank you George. Thank you for everything you done for all of us. Best wishes in retirement my friend.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remember The Sacrifice

It is the final Monday in May. It will bring an extra day off to many in this country. It is considered the “unofficial” start to summer. Kids will have finished the school year. Families will be taking that vacation planned for months.

It’s Memorial Day. The day where we show thanks, respect, and honor to the men and women of the Armed Forces who had the courage to put on the uniform and pay the ultimate price to allow rest of us to have the freedom & liberties of the greatest country on the planet. This day is not about going to the next sale, or sleeping in late, or wondering what is playing on the big screen. It is about showing gratitude to those who couldn’t make it home and to the ones that they left behind.

So before you hit the snooze button, or go to lie on the beach, or fire up the grill just for a moment stop, think, and remember.

Remember Lt. Christopher Barnett of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Remember Army Spec. David Hickman of McLeansville, North Carolina. Remember Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier of Athens, Georgia. Remember all of those men and women. Keep them and their families in your hearts and prayers.

Laura Youngblood visits her husbands grave, Petty Officer Travis L. Youngblood, at Arlington National Cemetery
After all Memorial Day is everyday for some.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Country From Above

It’s been said countless times that there is no place like Death Valley at night. Of course they mean that during the fall as the Purple & Gold wage fierce competition on the gridiron. Well it’s obvious this isn’t the fall, even though the temps can reach into the 90’s, and there’s no football being played. Which can only mean that it’s year three of the biggest outdoor country extravaganza know to man,  Bayou Country Superfest.
The BCS has once again brought some of the biggest names in country music to a legion of fans in the Red Stick. The glitz, the glamour, the sweat, the humidity, and the long hike up to the 400 section to get that beauty shot pictured above, trust me it was worth getting. And if you think it was all controlled crazy inside…
Outside provide the fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet their favorite artists. Guess you better have something ready to be autographed.

Yeah it’s year three and I’ll have to ask yet again…

Can the Senator please get some tickets to next year’s show?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Times No More

It is the one of the Big Easy's Big Icons. It is synonymous with a bowl of hot Gumbo & cold oyster. It goes with the morning cup of coffee and a plate of beignets from Cafe Du Monde. It is the newspaper known as the Times Picayune. It has brought the news of the region and the world to the fingertips of everyone in South Louisiana. It's 154 year heritage has delivered and endless number of timeless headlines. It survived the storm "Katrina" and helped reinforced the levees by holding those responsible for not maintain them. It could live on forever.

Sadly, just not in the form that it has endured for well over a century. Fine journalism is giving way to overhead. The presses are being slowed because of the bottom line. Circulation of one the finest newspapers in the country is being curtailed because of budget cuts. I knew the media industry was facing tough times but never did I think an institution like the TP would be affected. Gone are the daily editions in the fall of 2012. And with it a line of quality people being shown the door.

I hope that this is just a bad dream and we all will awake from it. But in my heart, this has the feeling of a great entity coming to an end. To all of my friends and peer with the TP, we are competitors but we are journalists first. We stand by your side in this dark time and hope that the light will shine through.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Madness Comes Knocking

Front Lobby of WIBW
I can't explain the sudden rash of instantaneous violence that has suddenly plagued my peers in the TV News World. First it was the shooting that unfolded in near the live truck in Louisville, KY. Now this...

Topeka, KS. What was suppose to be another day in the community turned into a lock down of one of the television stations. A guy, who isn't playing with a full deck, decides to turn himself into a one man invasion force and put the peeps of WIBW in serious danger. It's bad enough when we have to deal with unstable elements while on the street gathering news but it's another level when all kinds of insane comes knocking on the front door.

Just grateful that no one was seriously hurt. Be careful out there everyone.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birthday At Arkham

Ah yes. Another 365 days around the sun has come again. Another year older, another year wiser, and another Birthday that has to spent in the padded wall of the asylum. Yeah you would like the day off to celebrate the coming of you existence but not the case when your birthday happen in one of the three sweeps months. It's alright someone has to save the newsworld. Just be thankful those you are blessed to call friends remember your special day.

Thanks for everything everyone. Now back to work, the newsworld ain't saving itself.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Caught In The Cross Fire

Courtesy: WAVE 3's James Thomas
In the business of the around the clock news cycle you are eventually going to get sent to whatever form of spot news that is blowing up the scanner that's within ear shot of your assignment editor. Soon you are going to get sent to a shooting in one of the hot spots of town where it's not a matter of if but when it happens. Your goal as always get the scene of flashing lights and blooming yellow crime tape then get out, nothing fancy. Never do you think that once you get there and start doing your job that you are going to be part of the story let alone become a potential victim.

May 17th. Louisville, KY. The Westside area of the city. An early afternoon shooting occurs and WAVE 3's team of Jamie Weiss & James Thomas were sent to the scene of the city's latest homicide. It was going to be the usual for covering spot news. Get law enforcement doing their thing, get the on lookers, get the crime tape, put it on the evening news then go home. Little did they know that would be caught in an episode of The First 48, ironically they have done shows in that city before.

One family discovers that one of their members has been killed. An argument ensues. No sooner than Detectives start their investigation, another shooting breaks out just feet away from the first crime scene. Weiss & James are forced into the cover of their live truck waiting for all hell around them to calm down before setting foot on the streets again. Who would thought that there would be BREAKING NEWS developing from BREAKING NEWS that got there in the first place. The emotions were off the charts. The video is unreal.  It was the start of a really long day for everyone.

Got a feeling the folks from A&E Network will be making another trip to the Ville soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I’m pretty sure every reporter across the country will go the extra mile to make their story stand out on the evening news. They want to keep the viewer talking about their piece long after it hits the airwaves. Most times it’s from someone that says the one line that will live on and on and on. Other times it’s the use of a creative stand up the will make people ask, “Did you see what (blank) did on the news?”

This leads me to Rebecca Shlien of WAAY 31, in Huntsville, AL. I’m guessing she went to work as always, drew the nice feature assignment of a local person who likes to help animals of all kinds including, snakes. In the words of Indiana Jones, “Why’d have to be snakes?” Not withstanding there was still a job to be done. So how do you get everyone talking about your story… stand up. An element to most stories to help draw the viewer in. But in this case it’s not the final result that will get people talking but what happens when the camera accidentally rolls on.

Ms. Shilen, we here at with The Senator’s Forum salute you. You turned a good day of story and kept people all over the country talking about this one. You showed some courage, since most reporters will not put a living belt around their neck, and got your peers to laugh with you. However, I think Samuel L. said it best.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dances With Wolves

The life of a Television Photographer is always an interesting one, especially for the ones who work in the public television. Never know what their fate may entail because of the crazy dreams from someone who thinks this is a good idea. I can only imagine how this one came about.

Producer: “We’re doing a special on the zoos in the state.”

Photographer: “Alright. I’ll be careful where I step.”

Producer: “I’ll need you to get inside of the wolves' cage.”

Photographer: (gulp) “I’ll really have to watch where I step.”

One can wonder what is going through the brave photographer’s mind knowing that they go onto the turf of one of the most vicious animals on the planet while the producer is safely tucked away snapping what could be the final moments of existence. Not to worry pretty sure that no photographer is going to do something that would put them in eminent danger from any assignment. Think about would I have scaled down the side of one of the largest stadiums in the country if I didn’t think it wasn’t safe? Yeah you’re right I would have done it anyway but that’s not the point. I want to see this special that’s being put together. It’s not the first the public news team has gotten rough on an assignment.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Marathon Debate

Senator’s Log: April 4th, 2012. – It was the final day of eighth straight days at the asylum. It just so happen it was "Judgment Day" at the “House That Huey Built”. A few hundred teachers decided to make one last ditch effort to challenge legislation that would leave the biggest impact on education since the days of desegregation. Educators locked in a fierce battle with the sitting Governor on what should be the right path for the future of the state’s school system. It was the peeps in Red versus the Ones wearing the Suits. Lots of chanting, lots of name calling, lots of endless debate in the chamber yet not enough of Aleve to go around. Nonetheless I knew that it was going to be a really, and I mean really, long day in front of me and I just had to grin and bear it.

A day that was going to require a lot of shooting, a lot of fast editing, and a good pair of shoes with all of the moving around. Why does all of this madness have to happen on the days I’m here? It was all hands on deck for this one, good thing one of our young, intelligent, and hard working interns decided to come along for the ride. Another pair of hands is always welcomed help while the capitol correspondent sorts out all of the details to make sense of the story for the evening news.

Yet with all of the facts, pictures, and sound bites the key essentials for success today were patience & endurance. Patience was needed because the debate in chamber was more of a marathon. Some of the lawmakers drew a line in the sand also since they had some doubts about the plan also. Endurance was required because the rest of asylum was spread all over the place. Thankfully the debate finally ended before midnight and we all got out at a decent hour. Just hope the rest of the session isn’t going to be like this but another round is right around the corner.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Where's The Love???

It’s no secret that people of HBO have delivered some of the best television in recent memory. Shows like The Sopranos, True Blood, and The Wire. Now the network is going to bring us a new series this summer called The Newsroom. A gritty drama about the behind the scenes issues of a popular cable news network. The problems of the main anchor losing his cool & becoming a viral video sensation. Producers constantly bickering with the talent on the direction of the show. And the managers who must somehow find balance to produce quality television while making a profit. Yes all this and more but I have one question,


After watching the trailer there was no mention of the hard working men and women who throw fancy cams with fuzzy mics on their shoulders. The ones who go beyond the call of duty to make the talent look good while trying to fit a lunch break in with dozens of live shots trusted upon them. Don’t get me wrong this has the makings of a great show but I employ the creators of this series to please bring in a strong group to accurately portray the photographer ranks. No doing live shots in the middle of a tornado. For that matter no doing live shots without a live truck. And for all that is good please let them hold the camera the correct way. And if you need someone to bring guidance to actors & actresses I do offer my services, did you know?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fist Pumping Emmys

You remember that, “Holy crap this isn’t real” moment I had back in December? Well I can officially say that it happened. It is real and man it is a great feeling. Never in my wildest dream would I be holding an Emmy Award let alone two of them. First let me give praise to God, without the him none of this is possible. Thanks to mom for pointing me in the right direction in life. Thanks to everyone with The 13th Gate & Red Stick Roller Derby for welcoming me with open arms and for allowing me the privilege of telling your story. And eternal gratitude to all of my friends, co workers, and peers in Television, Journalism, & the Media for helping me become the professional that I am. Thanks y’all I couldn’t have done this without you.

Now that one objective in a long career has been achieved it’s on to the next one. After all the quest for the unicorn named “Eleanor” continues.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sunset Over Gulf

One of the cool points in a photographer’s world is that on some occasions that you are going to see some really great things to take pictures of. And as an added bonus you get to use the time lapse feature in post production. Like the picture my friend Jeremy Campbell, of WTVT in Tampa, got while walking the beach one day. Locking the camera down, getting the color balance straight, then hitting the record button, and let Mother Nature do her thing. Trust me she can be a handful so when she has something nice to shoot you better take advantage of it.

The end of another day captured for all to see on the evening news. Man I bet that’s a gorgeous shot to have.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Running With I-TEAM

With the first of four “Sweeps” months out of the way, I couldn’t help but think of how exhausting it was. That what happens when you are called into service for the I-Team. Yeah I know, majority of the stations across the country have one, I like keep tabs with the group over in Music City. The ones who spend countless hours thumbing through an endless number of documents looking for any “i’s” and “t’s” that haven’t been dotted or crossed. Searching for all kinds of impropriates that would send up a red flag in the day to day operations from all kinds of entities.

That’s the role of an Investigative Reporter. For me, it’s a new challenge in the ongoing quest for providing quality television news. I’ve chased spot news, got every kind of ribbon cutting imaginable, and put together tons of photo essays. So when the opportunity came to help make informative stories that require more than a few hours to shot appeasing to the viewer, I welcome it. Little Nat sound, more beauty shots, and an extra camera on some occasions does wonders. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to get things accomplished.
A lot of energy goes into one of these pieces but the payoff is worth it when everything comes together. Helps when you have great reporter on your side also. Now back to work, the next “Sweeps” month will be here before you know it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pope of the Promo

You ever wonder where those station marketing image spots that appear on the airwaves during your regular scheduled program come from? They are usually the brain child from the crack staff of your company's marketing/promo department. That's where my buddy Chris Blades comes into play. Known to many as The Pope, no it was NOT self proclaimed by him, he's the one who grabs a pen & pad, sketch out an idea, then makes it happen with a few shoots and some news file from the archives of the Asylum. He's pulled off some magic in a matter of minutes after some big stories turned to help sell some of the hard workers at the Big Raggedy. Think about it, it he can put yours truly in one of his epic spots then he must have some great powers, DYK?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fueling The Hype Machine

As we draw closer to the "Biggest Game Ever", version 2.0 I might add, it’s time for the obligatory meet and greet of the players from both LSU & BAMA to play nice in front of the media. No need for unwarranted bulletin board material this close to game day. Wonder what questions were asked and how many of them were recycled from the last time. Just have to watch what the small army from the Big Raggedy sends back since I couldn’t make for any of the festivities. There’s always next time even though that maybe four years from now.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution

With 2011 officially in the rear view and no plans to put the brakes on in 2012, I like many all over have a New Year's Resolution. Nothing fancy, nothing outragous, just the same one I've had for some time now. What is it you ask?

Just be a better person.

Simple. Happy New Year. Make 2012 yours, DYK?