. . .well, maybe not a good option.
It's never easy to admit, but no matter how hard I work, sometimes I'm going to fail. It's arrogant, but easy to kid myself into thinking I'm good enough to overcome any problems. Remember, I'm the "Action-Man" and I've just always been the guy that comes through when it's crunch time. I work miracles. I make it happen.
Not last night I didn't.
My reporter and I had a simple assignment. Drive up to Big Bear and see what types of preps were being made for the coming rain and potential snow expected within the next 36 hours. I've driven to Big Bear in a news truck during all types of weather conditions. I know how long it takes to crawl up the mountain when you can barely see the road in front of you. It's scary and you have every right to be afraid of oncoming traffic as well as the slippery roads.
This was in the fog as we gassed up in Running Springs, about 17 miles to Big Bear.
They wanted us on the air for 10pm and 11pm. We left the station about 5:00pm and dove directly into rush hour traffic. It's a two and a half hour drive to Big Bear with no traffic and we'd still need to actually shoot the story once we got there. The traffic stayed heavy. There was a freeway closure (we heard it involved a suicide attempt). We took an alternate route and that was jammed. We had a second photographer following. We lost him to backed up traffic because of an accident. It was just going to be me and the reporter. I'd have to shoot, edit, setup for the live-shot and operate the SNG system. I can do that. I've done it before.
The fog hit us near the base of the mountain. We were lucky it wasn't cold enough to snow or form ice on the roads, but visibility was zero or close to it through much of the drive up.
Pardon me, but I'm going to get all "techie" here.
We didn't reach Big Bear until 9:40pm and they wanted us for the top of the show. Instead of shooting video and cutting a package or VOSOT for the first hit, the station decided to just take a straight liveshot of the reporter. Most businesses were closed or closing, there was a light rain, but it wasn't going to snow on us. "Showtime" and I did my thing.
I popped the dish and got the satellite system going, then set-up the camera and connected the cabling for the live-shot. With personal cell phones, we've got about six phones between us and I think they were all ringing. The station relayed my satellite transponder coordinates (IA6 transponder 1J from 10:10pm - 10:25pm) and IFB assignment (IFB #8) through the reporter. I made the phone call to access at 10:07pm and put us on the "bird". As I dialed up the IFB at about 10:08, I noticed the picture on our return had no chroma (it was black and white). I checked settings and made a call to our station. They were seeing the same thing. We couldn't go on the air like that. The producers were notified and I tried to track down the problem. We only have two minute to air at this point and I knew we weren't going to make slot. The best I could hope for is that they would "float" us and give me enough time to track down the problem.
It didn't happen.
Sometimes the problem is simple, like a cable with a loose fitting or something obstructing the satellite dish. The last resort is powering down the system and bringing it back up. That cycle takes ten minutes or more. It no longer mattered. The station cleared us from the show and dropped us from the 11:00pm show. Over four hours on the road, insane hustle to get the shot up and at the end of the night, nothing to show for it.
Another day at the office and the best that can be said? At least nobody died. My streak continues.
(hmm. I better check on that suicide attempt)