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Tackling issues important to the life of storytelling!

How about an Apprentice or two for the Road Trip?

I was wondering what would happen if the next project for the Apprentice would be to put on a Road Trip Show for WCNC-TV. Could you imagine replacing our crew (outside of the talent – Chris, Sonya, Terri, Chuck, and Mike) with the Apprentice cast? The task would be specific, choose a location to put on the Road Show and the crew that has the most viewers wins! Haaaaa, they would SINK! It would be like last week’s episode where the group that put together a baseball display at Dick’s Sporting Goods and actually brought sales down by thirty-four percent. But the best part about this idea is that the process that would un-fold while preparing, directing, producing and actually shooting live television would make for some GREAT TV!

I can just see the debacle that would un-fold. One group would come-up with some lame idea for a stop that would sound good in the planning room but would be plain out boring television. I can see it now; they would choose a nature preserve with beautiful wildlife. A place where families and elementary schools come for an education experience…and no one shows up, and all they are left with is a room full of boring experts! In between the uhmmms and uhhs you could here the clicking of the remote control. CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.

The other group would probably choose a cool idea like a sporting event. This would actually be the best one for television, not because of the idea but because it would be a logistical nightmare! They would have ten different places to showcase and not enough cable to reach…only if the cable gods were with them that day! Oh…they would drag out the cable, but bust there butts trying to get from the interview of a coach on the floor to the interview with general manager in the suite. I can see that one camera, running with cable attached, up a huge flight of stairs and bust while running through the stands. Then you would see the project manager in the production truck screaming on their headset while Carolyn is in the background shaking her head, not trying to laugh. This could be great television.

And at the end of the day, they would go to the board room and the group that covered the sporting event would obtain a bigger audience, and the Donald would look at the other group and ask, “Whose idea was it to choose the Nature Preserve?” He would then say, “Even I know great TV, and that is not definitely great TV! YOU’RE ALL FIRED!!! As for the winning group, you all get one night stay in the lovely accommodations provided by Tom Johnson’s RV. You will be eating exquisite BBQ while sitting on leather chairs covered with purple lips, and have either moon-pies or oatmeal cream pies for desert. Go Enjoy!!!”

Well, let me tell you that last night was great TV at the Pep Rally in Matthews. Two sides with dueling bands and dueling cheerleaders! There was lots of action including two cheerleader teams trying to out acrobat each other. I was just waiting for one those girls to face plant into the asphalt. Well, apparently you – our viewers – thought it was great TV because a lot more of you tuned in to check out the spectacle! Well, tune in today at 4:30pm for Road Trip Extra as we head to the Furniture Mart in Hickory, and for those of you in Hickory…come on out for the largest furniture sale in North Carolina!


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What is up with these Renaissance people?

So we have only completed three Road Trip stops and my new running shoes have already taken some war wounds!

Allison Andrews (our leader and trusty producer) is getting the most for her money on this pair. I got these grey ASICS (with orange strips – of course) on sale for 40 bucks! They are just as comfortable as the $100 ones…and have orange! As you can tell I like the color orange. It stems from younger years growing up in Clemson. And to keep from stirring up the family gossip, I went to Clemson over Auburn. Well, it helps the decision when you have a scholarship and get to work in sports for your college career. My blood runneth orange!

Anyways, Wednesday night was quite the affair…from Terri pulling up her pant leg to get an ankle tattoo, to Mike starting a rope fire for some crazy dude to walk across. And don’t forget the “Tomato Justice” where everyone was throwing tomatoes at some wacky dude behind a wall. (Click here to watch the show) What is up with these Renaissance people and their pre-historic antics? We should have put Chris behind the wall for the “Tomato Justice”…renamed as “Chris’s Tomato Justice”. Then everyone could have belted him with a tomato for a little justice on Chris Justice. I didn’t tell that joke to well. I always screw up the punch line.

Click here for photos from the show.

So my question is why we didn’t we see Mike walk up the fiery rope. I mean, he put his life on the line the night before by being catapulted in the air by the crazy Russians at the big top of Cirque du Soleil. It took them two tries to throw him in the air and make him land on the platform. I think the Russians sabotaged the event by releasing him early and making him crash onto the side of the platform. They just didn’t want to get out done by a “Broadcaster.” Anyways, since Mike was eager enough to get thrown, why not try to walk up the rope of fire? I am sure he has great balance and it would make for great television…imagine the host of the Carolina Traveler walking the fiery rope. It’s like walking the plank. Come on Mike, step up to the plate…is that all you have to offer? I am sure Allison was thinking…what would it take to get Mike on the rope? Maybe Mike has a “no fiery rope walking” clause in his contract, WCNC needs to renegotiate.

Well, Thursday night I am sure we will deliver some good television. Just imagine, thousands of screaming, hormone induced high schoolers putting on a Pep Rally for television. I am going to wear my special swat gear just in case I get trampled, because all they want is TO BE ON TV! We will be in Matthews at the Town Hall for the Independence/Butler pep rally…the game is Friday night. Butler might just knock off the Mighty Independence??? Tune in for Chuck’s thoughts! I look forward to seeing everyone. I am glad we are confined to the asphalt parking lot of Town Hall, may be my new orange stripped ASICS might get a rest…nope, if Allison has anything to do with it!


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When things go wrong…

So it just felt like when those final seconds ticked off the clock and sense of relief calms your nerves, a victory.

You wonder how a W in the win column happened after three interceptions, four fumbles, and negative rushing yards. I guess it falls on good ole fashion defense and gut check that allowed you to remember, your experience will take over. And it will be the overriding fundamental that keeps the administration and fans happy, the win…the one thing that makes the disgusting road to victory seem irrelevant. It’s just a win no matter how it happened.

Tuesday will be a day to remember. For our viewers, no one probably noticed the sense of panic and frustration that was the underlying irrelevance of a clean show. The fact of the matter is, well…we didn’t go to black, no one said an inappropriate line, and a camera didn’t crash to the ground. Mike was just as funny as always, Sonja’s calm demeanor was ever so present, Terri once again found a solution, and Chuck stretched his RV tour like a true sports anchor! As our leader and road mom, Allison Andrews felt the most stress as she could not communicate to her talent during the ‘pick your favorite microphone’ scenario continued until…until…well, until…ONE FINALLY WORKED! Good ole fashion wireless technology coupled with the same mind set when you forget where you set your keys, except this time the keys are actually microphones. Oh, by the way…we only have less than a second to get the right microphone so someone could talk, LIVE! Did I ever mention I love live TV!

And when the debacle was over, we still looked clean on air and the average viewer at home probably didn’t even know it happened. And if they did, they probably thought it was scripted and it made for great television. We walked away, wondering how we got the W…and still tried to figure out how the microphones got mixed up! We were quiet, no one blaming anyone but ourselves, wondering how we fueled this flame. And like a true head coach, our trusty leader took us into our own personal locker room (the RV) and proceeded to do what all great head coaches do…explain the night’s events and reassure us that we are a team, we worked well as a team, and we prevailed as a team…and when it comes down to it, the show must go on!

What was it that brought on the strange karma? Was it the purple lip sheets used to protect the leather in the RV? Was it the fact that the sun is setting differently, or was it that I haven’t even touched the Moon Pies yet and focused solely on the oatmeal cream pies? I think it was none of the above, the planets lined up perfectly Tuesday night to actually collide. And no matter how hard we worked, we couldn’t get the people Mike was trying interview – with the multiple microphones – to speak English. Cirque du Soleil is staffed with predominately French speaking people, since the show is based out of Canada.

The bottom line is this, a win is a win and the show went well! And only the staff of the Road Show will have stories to tell, but to the audience and the managers…it’s a good ole fashion victory. Wednesday’s kickoff is 4:30 pm at the Renaissance Festival, and the Road Show Extra show will begin a new day’s challenge!


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On the road again…

Can you believe it is November, it seems like yesterday we were at Lake Wylie for our last Road Trip stop this past May.

Well, I could definitely tell it had been a few months since we had gotten together to put on a show for everyone. As you know, we have added Road Trip Extra, our 30 minute show before our regularly scheduled newscast. It was a new challenge…one that I am glad we spent much thought in our meetings.
What you guys and gals don’t realize is that every photographer has to be mobile to bring you all our hosts (Chris, Sonja, Terri, Chuck, & Mike) from different spots within our location.

For instance, at the beginning of the show Monday, two photographers had to shoot the opening with Chris, introducing us to Baxter. One wide shot – set the scene shot – and one on Chris. After Chris was done with his introduction, one of those photographers had to breakdown and head 50 yards away with Terri to bring you the weather in front on the Baxter Town Hall. This “re-organization” has to happen in less than two minutes. Fun, huhh? Now imagine that scenario for a whole two hours…a lot of tangled cable and worn out legs! Well, since it has been six months since last Road Trip, it took us a little while to get back in to the swing of things! Click here for photos from Baxter.

Well, Tuesday we will be a Cirque du Soleil in Concord for their Varekai performance, all starting at 4:30. It is going to be fun and a bit challenging for the Road Trip Crew to put on a show under the big top…see you there!


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Road Trip Preps

So here we go again, the Road Trip continues in November. All of the meetings are complete, supplies have been bought, and the distinguishing long sleeve Road Trip shirts have been handed out, light blue I might add.

The only question now is, I wonder if the higher powers have decided between Oatmeal Cream Pies or Moon Pies as the snack item for the RV? I voted to for both! TV people need to properly nourished for a long days work. We are putting on a two hour show starting at 4:30 pm. Remember to tune in early!

Now to the “behind the scenes stuff”! I think we have spent more time grimacing over the fact that sun is going to be setting a lot quicker during the month of November.

Did everyone remember to set their clocks back? That extra hour of sleep was quite nice! Anyways, since the sun is setting earlier, this means more lights, more work, and more needed room in the Ryder truck for all this extra equipment.

Oh…by the way, I think I have been demoted from driving the fully decked RV to driving the Ryder truck that hauls all of the equipment. I wonder who is the lucky Road Tripper that gets to enjoy the exquisite accommodations that Tom Johnson RV has provided? I would say they are liven LARGE!

Back off my tangent, both (RV and the Ryder truck along with rest of WCNC caravan) are driven daily to all the locations. The RV has all the snacks, cozy recliners, queen size bed, and get this…granite countertops. WOW! The only accommodation left that a 6NEWS Road Tripper might want is a washer and dryer. Oh yeah…it has that too! Click here to take a look at the RV. It will give you an idea where all of the decisions are made and the plan is masterfully created for your viewing pleasure!

Well, I hope that I will see everyone in Baxter tonight. Halloween is always a big hit in that neighborhood. Bring a jacket and the Halloween spirit. I’m bringing a new pair of running shoes; since I am one of the Road Trip Photographers…we are always running all over the place to get the best shots. Come out and watch all the running!


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Reflections from Baton Rouge

Hello All from Baton Rouge,

So my time here in Louisiana is coming to a close. There is a possibility that I will be back in a week, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to take part in the effort here with Belo Corp and WWL. I am not sure if most of you know what is actually taking place here in Baton Rouge, so hopefully I can shed a little bit of light.

WCNC is here in Baton Rouge to take part in a relief effort for our sister station WWL-TV. I am sure if you are looking at our web site, you have been watching WWL-TV’s twenty-four hour newscast as it is streamed. Belo Corporation owns thirteen television stations across the country, all of which have unloaded their workforce to help maintain the staffing for WWL-TV. The staff of WWL-TV were also victims of this terrible disaster, most – is not all – are working while trying to figure out what their next step is personally. Most of have lost homes, friends but Belo Corporation has made sure that they will not loose their jobs! We have had reports that the Fox Station here in New Orleans told its employees right before Katrina hit New Orleans that they will probably not have a job and Fox will probably not continue broadcasting. They lost homes, friends, and their jobs in one swift moment, and the storm had not even hit.

It is amazing the commitment that Belo has provided for the WWL-TV staff and all the members of all the stations from all over the country that are here to help make sure WWL stays on the air. We were told that WWL-TV is being watched on all the PBS stations across Louisiana and most of Texas. WWL-TV is also being carried by CBS Network. Since WWL-TV’s newscast is streamed on the web, all Belo’s websites are providing that stream and close to 15 million people a day are accessing this information. We as Belo employees and WWL-TV employees and we fell the same since of commitment that Belo carries to make sure that the people of Louisiana have a place to access information through this horrific tragedy.

We are broadcasting out of PBL in Baton Rouge (the PBS Station for Louisiana) so we essentially have three newsrooms in one (WWL-TV staff, other Belo Stations Staff, and PBL Staff), working around the clock to keep the operation running. Belo just yesterday shipped in more food, office supplies, computers, video tape, and most importantly a portable gas station. We have also been provided apartments for our staff to have a place to lay their heads down for a short period of time before working another shift. I feel like I have a since of commonality with these people, and will miss their conversation. Everyday I meet a new person, see a new place, and hear not only the horrifying stories of this tragedy but the warm stories of triumph that emerge when seems grim.

Good Bless this place, these people, and the commitment to the audience that depends on the broadcast of WWL.

Bobby Rettew

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New Orleans flyover

Hello All,

I am sitting at the Baton Rouge airport awaiting WFAA’s chopper to arrive from Dallas. Reporter Bill Cappo from WWL and I are hoping to fly over New Orleans today for an assessment and to shoot fresh video of the fires in the area.

The airport is swamped with private helicopters from all over the country trying to get into NO to assess the damage to their businesses. As expected, tons of military aircraft are in and out of here.

Hopefully today we will have luck getting in and getting fresh pictures.

Originally posted:

Attempting New Orleans flyover

Hello All,

I am sitting at the Baton Rouge airport awaiting WFAA’s chopper to arrive from Dallas. Reporter Bill Cappo from WWL and I are hoping to fly over New Orleans today for an assessment and to shoot fresh video of the fires in the area.

The airport is swamped with private helicopters from all over the country trying to get into NO to assess the damage to their businesses. As expected, tons of military aircraft are in and out of here.

Hopefully today we will have luck getting in and getting fresh pictures.


Originally posted at

The days are getting longer and tougher…

The days are getting longer and tougher. When I thought I had witnessed the worst possible sight to cross my eyes, something tops the moment. The stories we are hearing and the images we are seeing are enough to make you cry, and cry hard.

I am humbled and constantly reminded every time I wish I had a few hours of sleep, a worm shower, or a place to call my space for my suitcase…I am once again humbled. There are tens of thousands of people that before this tragedy were barely getting by in the city of New Orleans, now they have nothing…other than the confusion of the situation.

I was flying over southern part of the state trying to get some fresh aerials with the KENS-TV chopper and during a stop for fuel, met a pilot from Atlanta. He walked up to us while we were refueling and recounted that last few hours he had spent trying to evacuate people from the hospitals in New Orleans. While flying thru the city, people were shooting -WITH GUNS – at him while trying to land at one of the hospitals. People are holding signs downtown stating, “You Fly Over, WE WILL SHOOT YOU!” He could only land a for no more than a minute because the security guards could not cover him while off loading supplies for patients. Doctors are scared to run thirty feet to the helicopter in fear of being shot by people that are still in the city. My new friend broke down in tears because the story he was telling had just become a vivid moment in his mind and he then realized the intensity of the situation.

I am being pushed mentally and emotionally. I am shooting, writing, stories for people to voice. I never expected that this type of story would be the time when I would try to search intellectually to do more as a journalist. I never thought witnessing Marshal Law would make me want to dig deeper and find a sense of place in this crazy conglomeration of Belo Staff to just make sure that WWL stays on air.

Everyone is working hard and finding ways to help. We have just moved from LSU’s Campus to the PBS station because we needed the space and the LSU students needed to get back to normal. We have moved up in the world from hand written scripts and ticker tape wire to computers and a working newsroom. I actually slept on a bed last night. But I am still humble, because the stories are still haunting!

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