Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reporter Shoes: Suzanne Marques II

Six Flags Breaker

You know what I hate? I hate thinking that I'm done for the day, but then I get sent out on a breaker.

No, wait, that's actually kind of cool.

A ride operator was injured at Six Flags in Valencia. It's Friday night at about 10pm. In my mind I'm already at home on the comfy couch with my feet up. Nice thought, not happening.

I get the call, grumble to myself, but head out to meet another crew and reporter in Valencia.

It was all pretty standard, but standard for me can be pretty odd at times.

Here's a quick run-down of the good, the bad and the strange.

Even though I know it's not going to accomplish anything, I drive my newsvan right up to the front gates. A park employee directs me to the business entrance on the far side of the park. I drive around and another employee directs me to get off the property.

Really? The first guy didn't know that nobody was going to make a statement?

I meet up with the other crew near the base of the giant sign next to the freeway.

There's a little office near the base of the sign. Three people were standing at the door to the office. They looked like employees on a break. I drove over and asked if they knew about the accident.

It's then that I realize they aren't employees. My next thought is that they look like they could be hookers and this does not look good with me talking to them from the newsvan.

They look kind of startled and I realize they aren't hookers at all. They're just teenage girls and gee, so this is what getting old feels like.

Not that it's important, but we crank out one straight liveshot for the 11pm show, then pack it in to head back.

That was the intent.

Work was being done on the freeway and somehow I managed to detour my way through several on-ramp closures to be headed towards Filmore, California.

After much teeth grinding, several f-bombs and a couple more detours, I managed to get back on the right road home.

It's kind of funny, but I don't recall what I worked on (if anything) during the first seven hours of my shift.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TMZ and Me.

My day has started. I'm hanging out a little early because I wanted to bring my recently assigned (don't call it new) news van to be detailed. That's a post for another day.

This post?

Just another day in news.

I really love the fact that I get to be out in the world. Melissa McCarty and I were covering a recent development in the Governator's continuing baby mamma drama.

A British tabloid had scored the first interview and we were going to interview a celebrity/entertainment gossip expert at his secret lair on Sunset.

Yup, that's Mr. TMZ himself, Harvey Levin.

The question I wanted to ask was, "dude, how could you let somebody outbid you on this?"

Well, it probably made sense from a business standpoint, but still, come on, do we really want to let anyone challenge the (good old) USA in tabloid superiority?

Nope. No-sir. We do not.

The rest of the day proved to be pretty uneventful. We cut the piece, did a liveshot in front of a newsstand at Van Nuys and Ventura Boulevard.

We travelled no further than from one side of the Hollywood Hills to the other, but that was all we needed to do.

Easy day? Sure.

Don't worry, we have all summer to make up for it.

A Few Weeks Ago.

The lobby of the Hawthorne Police Department was somber, but colorful.

I mostly look forward to visiting the Hawthorne PD. Before I got into news, I worked for the City of Hawthorne (in the Cable TV office) and knew most of their police department from working on training videos for them

That was over 15 years ago. A lot of the people I knew back then have moved on or retired.

There are familiar faces to be seen, but because the story I was covering involved the death of one of their fellow officers, it was a relief that I didn't see many that I recognized.

Hawthorne Officer Andrew Garton died a few days before a good friend of mine also passed. As a matter of fact, I had just ran camera for a liveshot from the lobby of the Hawthorne PD. Dave Lopez was the reporter. I was on the nightside shift and was just helping out the dayside crew.

My cell phone was vibrating during the liveshot. I was getting text messages and calls, but they had to wait until we were done.

I thought it might be my wife or daughter. It wasn't. The calls were all from friends at the station who wanted me to know that my James Kang had passed away.

These flowers were placed where he sat and worked at our station.

I was hit pretty hard, but felt like I could continue through to the end of my shift. That didn't last long. Word of James' passing quickly spread. People started asking me what I knew and what I had heard. Everyone offered their condolences. Some suggested I should go home.

It was a bit much.

I called in and asked if they could send another photographer to cover my shift and I went home.

That was a piece of that week that I hadn't gotten around to sharing. It wasn't a large piece. It wasn't a particularly difficult piece. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet.

I tend to often just go with the flow.

It's Monday. Let's hope we all have a good week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

LAX Stuff

All the pictures I took last Wednesday out at LAX are from after sunset. I'd been there for most of my shift which began that day at 2:30pm, but it was a tense situation and I had to focus just on the job. I didn't breathe until after the sun went down, so taking a few shots for the blog wasn't going to happen.

Anyway, I'd been sent out to edit and set up a live shot.

We were breaking a big story. One of those kinds of stories where the subject (in this case, an airport official) quits his position because of the information being reported.

It was about Michael Molina. It involved his cell phone and messages of a sexual nature.

Gee, can you guess where this is going?

His career and maybe even his family are now at risk.

That's some serious stuff. I'm actually a little hesitant to write about it (shucks, even the lawyers were in on this one).

Here's what was written about the story on the CBS2/KCAL9 web site:

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — CBS Investigative reporter David Goldstein has learned that a top LAX official has resigned his post after allegations surfaced that he was sexting and sending sexually explicit messages on his LAX-issued phone.

Goldstein tracked Michael Molina down at his house but Molina had no comment.

LAX CEO Gina Marie Lindsey confirmed the resignation to Goldstein late Wednesday afternoon.

Goldstein asked Lindsey if the allegations of sexting were true and she replied, “There were some allegations of that. I asked him about it and he resigned.”

You know, there's more to the story than just that short paragraph, but that's the nuts and bolts of it.

This kind of story doesn't happen every day. It felt pretty good to be even a small part of it.

Still, I'm going to be on my toes out at LAX. I can't help but feel like a van with the CBS2 and KCAL9 logos might look a lot like a bullseye to LAX officials.

Monday, June 13, 2011

BeFrank Scores a Deal on Tech

I have close to 100,000 digital still photos. They were all living peacefully on my computer's hard drive and equally peacefully on external backup drives.

Then something funny happened. Not funny, ha-ha. Funny, OMG, this is bad!

One of the main backups (the one with EVERYTHING on it) decided that two years was a good run and stopped working.

"Funny" might not have been the right word, but fortunately for me, I'd recently decided to start looking into more advanced backup systems and immediately started surfing the net for a deal.

I came across a base model Drobo backup unit on Amazon. Usually retails in the $400.00 range.

Amazon had it priced (with two 1 terrabyte drives) at $243.00 and I literally couldn't get my wallet out of my pants.

Specs? Four bay, USB 2.0/Firewire 800. No, it wasn't the latest and greatest, but it would serve my purpose very well.

As you can tell from the pictures, I managed to snap one up before somebody realized their mistake. Surprisingly, the order wasn't cancelled. I did not get an apologetic call from customer service explaining how no way in hell was I getting that price on that piece of gear.

It arrived two days later.

The installation was pretty easy. Not as easy as I was lead to believe (and slow), but nothing that was completely unexpected. I even had a couple of spare 500gig drives (from past system upgrades) that I tossed into the mix. That filled up the available slots and my computer was secure again.

A week later, one of the 500 gig drives failed.

No worries. That's what the Drobo is all about. One drive failure means nothing.
Two drives failing might be a problem, but one drive? No, problemo.

A quick trip to Fry's. Swap out the bad 500gig for a new 1terrabyte drive and I'm good.

It won't protect my data from fire, or other natural disasters, but I can scratch "hard drive failure" off my nightmare list of computer issues.

It's not a juicy behind the scenes look at broadcast news, but I thought you might like to know my photos are at least pretty safe right now.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Just Beachy

Rita Garcia and I were assigned to cover a Manhattan Beach jewelry store robbery. Even though Rita had worked the story by phone while we were in route, it was obvious that the owner wasn't interested in talking to the media.

By the time we'd gotten to Manhattan Beach, the store was empty.

That's okay. We had a plan "B" in the works.

I should say, the station had plan "C" in the works. Plan "B" (as far as I was concerned) consisted of me having a nice sit-down lunch somewhere that didn't serve typical photog chow.

Unfortunately that didn't happen.

Our assignment became a story about the City of Redondo Beach being one of the few cities in the South Bay area this year that would continue its' tradition of sponsoring a fireworks show on the 4th of July.

We had a stop for an interview at the Redondo Beach Police Department, but lunch was once again whatever I could grab quickly on the go (McDonalds. Yay, number 2 combo*) and wolf down.

Not lucky for my overall health and well being, but lucky in that the story took place near the Redondo Beach Pier.

I don't make it over to the pier very much, but I do enjoy the sights and general vibe of the seafood eateries (darn, why did I have to grab McDonalds?). Funnel cake, corn dogs, ice cream and cotton candy could have been on the menu for lunch. Part of me (mostly my stomach) is very grateful I didn't realize what my options were going to be.

After shooting the rest of the story around the pier area, while Rita Garcia worked on writing the piece, I took a moment to shoot a few still shots of the pier.

No nice sit-down lunch, but no breaking news either.

Some days the stories I cover are a part of history. Some days I'm just happy to have had another day working in news.

I'll confess, while gathering the b-roll on the pier, I had a corn dog.

*Combo #2 is 2 cheeseburgers, a medium tasty beverage (orange drink) and fries.

Also, Soylent Green is people.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Happy Monday


This is the face of a man who just got a summons for jury duty.

Good times.

Posted via email from beFrank's posterous

Crazy Days

It really started as an easy day at work. In fact, the day was rightfully over. Suzanne Marques and I had done a story on Kim Kardashian and her bid for the Nobel Prize in literatu-- okay, I kid. It was a Kim Kardashian story, but it was just a light piece about her proposed married surname change.

It was a nice day. We were live on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and actually we were kind of taking it easy. Then things started going wonky with things like the microwave transmitter, the edit computer, the phone and Suzanne's IFB earpiece.

We were going to give up and drive to another crew's location, but I was able to fix or cobble a work around to most of the problems. We ran the gauntlet of technical mishaps and had come out with a win.

No later liveshots, so we packed up and headed back to the station. I dropped Suzanne off at the parking structure and then went inside to sign out for the day. It wasn't quite the end of my shift, but the chances of my going out on another story was pretty slim.

I should not have been surprised. Breaking news: FIRE!

A large furniture warehouse was on fire. The desk in full breaker attack mode rushed me out the door.

The fire was nearby in the Glendale vicinity, just off the 5 Freeway. Suzanne had been called back and would meet me there.

I managed to find a relatively safe spot for the liveshot and worries about the earlier problems with the truck were on my mind, but the truck gremlins must have knocked off work when it seemed like everyone was done for the day.

We were nowhere near the flames. Heck, the fire was pretty much under control by the time we got there anyway.

There was no extra help available, so I strung out enough cable to go live and just took my chances.

We managed to get through a hit for the 10pm show, but were cleared to break down and head back. No 11pm hit.

The adrenaline rush subsided. We dropped the mast, packed up and went through the end of shift routine again.

That first one from earlier was just a run through.

Sunday, June 05, 2011



It's the little details that are appreciated. Just a birthday greeting from my daughter and son-in-law.

It doesn't have anything to do with much of anything. It's just something that made me smile and that's not a bad way to end the week.

Posted via email from beFrank's posterous

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Good Morning


Late night and up early to speak at a career day type program.

It's really important that I don't cuss.

I'm not sure I can do that.

Posted via email from beFrank's posterous


Do we get to pick and choose our assignments? Nope. If that were the case then the city of Acton, California might never get any news coverage.

I'm not saying that's my sentiment. I just think it's a natural reaction to drop a few f-bombs to yourself when you see the assignment file has your unit number next to an Acton location.

I'm glad things are the way they are. If they were different, I might never have met Mr. Kim Fahey.

He's quite a character. It's too bad that not everyone feels the same.

The house that he's been working on for the past thirty years is a bit unconventional and he's been ordered to tear it down.

Having been there and having seen the project myself, I have to admit it's not exactly something I'd want to have looming over me if I was one of Mr. Fahey's neighbors.

Even if I was, I'd also have to admit the house that Mr. Fahey has built has more character than Disneyland and I think he should be encouraged to finish it.

Instead he's being threatened with the possibility of doing a long stretch of time in jail.

It doesn't seem fair that building something on your own piece of land in the middle of nowhere should be considered a criminal act.

Something is wrong with that picture. At first glance you might just think it's the house.

Really, it's not.

Having been to "Phonehenge" and having walked around it, I'm positively amazed at what Mr. Fahey has built.

I wish the people who want to tear it down could see it the same way.

They don't.

I'm just glad I got the opportunity to visit and I wish the builder of "Phonehenge" plenty of luck in his pending litigation.

You know, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made the trip if it had been left up to me.

I love that my job really gets me out of my comfort zone.