Digital Literacy – A New World Order

I met with a very cool guy this afternoon as he was working with our group to do some updates on his site: – his name is Bill Sheskey of Sheskey Learning Solutions.

We started talking about social media, finding new ways to build a tribe/ecosystem around your “cause”. What I found it that he is just as passionate about how we empower and educate “our future” with the skills necessary to be competitive in tomorrow’s workforce…to become the leaders of our tomorrow.

It is more than just writing a book report, a paper, or even a proposal. It has become, how do we use digital literacy to tell stories through visual communication, digital communication, sounds, etc.

I had a breakfast meeting this morning with Dr. Victor Vitanza who heads up the PhD Program at Clemson for Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design. He was talking about some of the PhD Candidates are creating dissertations that bring writing, art, video, and design in one paradigm to illustrate points and build a argument.

I teach a Business Writing Class at Clemson (ENGL 304) and I teach it from an entrepreneurial spin using digital communication tools. The new professional that will come out of the K-12 and collegiate education tracks are embarking on a whole new journey with a set of skills that are far more advanced when it comes to communication.

I think about my sister-in-law who is a student at the College of Charleston, and I sit and watch here multi-task in-front of her laptop. She is surfing the web, watching video on YouTube, listening to music, updating Facebook, while writing a paper for class. The new student is a multitasking student with digital skills that far surpass where I was when I was her age.

Has digital literacy brought to the surface attention span issues that were normally suppressed before this brave new Internet World? What does this mean…or are we having to evolve with the communication strategies of tomorrow?

It is the new world order…how can we continue to empower our students for tomorrows careers, today? How can we continue to reform our educational system to push digital literacy to the next frontier? I don’t know…I guess I am asking myself?

Video and Online Rich Media is GROWING FAST!

“Video is a rapidly growing space. I think this year will see hockey-stick growth in IPTV for several reasons. Broadband Internet and 3G mobile networks are expanding rapidly around the world, especially in emerging markets like China, India, Latin America, and the Middle East.
– Kalell Isaza Tuzman of (2/11/09)

“The Internet remains a place of continuing innovation, with users finding new ways to integrate online usage into their daily lives,” said Charles Buchwalter, SVP of research and analytics at Nielsen Online. “In recent years, the Internet has changed dramatically as people seek more personalized relationships online,” said Buchwalter. “In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically.”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

The number of U.S. consumers who frequent online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003, while time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period. In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, while the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Average Online Video Viewer Watches 5 Hours A Month.
Notable findings about online video viewership from February 2009 include:

* 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
* The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
* 98.8 million viewers watched 5.3 billion videos on (53.8 videos per viewer)
* 41.2 million viewers watched 384 million videos on (8.5 videos per viewer)
* The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
– Jack Loechner of (4/1/09)

Many companies are looking in so many different arenas to invest their marketing, training, and operational dollars…especially when trying to reach so many different audiences. Groups I work with are obviously going to find ways to sell our services when it comes to delivering rich media online (whether public or private), but consider this statement:

The number of U.S. consumers who frequent online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003, while time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period. In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, while the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

WOW…that is all I have to say is WOW. Consumers of information are looking to rich media like video and the multitude of messages it provides when surfing, researching, goofing off…but bottomline, consumers are watching video.

So what does that mean for those trying to reach those audiences…video may be one of the solutions but not the complete package. It doesn’t mean that you should go out and overload your online properties with video, but identify your audiences and provide the rich media that makes sense.

“The Internet remains a place of continuing innovation, with users finding new ways to integrate online usage into their daily lives,” said Charles Buchwalter, SVP of research and analytics at Nielsen Online. “In recent years, the Internet has changed dramatically as people seek more personalized relationships online,” said Buchwalter. “In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically.”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Video innovation is is going to contiually grow in ways beyond imagination, especially with the advent of Interactive Television and the convergence of mediums (broadband video and high definition television delivery). But other innovations is finding new ways to deliver this content to audiences. Social Media outlets are the new distribution point of information whether simple mundane thoughts or marketing campaigns. I am using Social Media properties in-coordination with web-based properties to deliver content in an expedient and efficient fashion.

Twitter is a distribution point as a workflow delivering targeted video messages to audiences that can work in coordination with email distribution and online properties. Imagine you are hosting an event and you want to send a personal video message as an invitation to a group of audiences. You know you have an email distribution list and this list can be tracked when the message is delivered. But what if this not the only audience you want to reach in a geographical area. What if you have built a following on Twitter with that was based on geography…now you have a targeted group of followers who might want to know about your event. And now with places like (LOVE IT), you can track clicks that are direct links to your video message.

“There are 87% more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883% more time devoted to those sites. In the last year alone, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73%, while in February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time. ”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Let’s look at some numbers from online video viewership from February 2009:
* 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
* The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
* The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
– Jack Loechner of (4/1/09)

What does that tell you…well it tells me that companies that are utilizing targeted messaging using rich media have many audience(s) to reach…so you better do it in less than 3.5 minutes. What do I mean targeted video messaging….well, know your audience, know your purpose, and keep it simple and straight to the point.

Online video “users” are multi-taskers; they have email open, two or three windows open surfing the web, chatting (using some program like iChat, AIM, Jabber, etc.)…so your message better be targeted and capture the attention of the users. It is now beyond the hip concept of just shoot something and put it up because people will watch. YouTube has transformed that landscape like cable television has done to network television…provided a plethora video of people just putting some video out there just because they can. It is now about quality and targeted messaging…Efficient and Effective messages.

Bottomline…rich media (video) is a widely growing area for marketers and organizations to display thier message. But it is time to start thinking: What is your message? Who is your audience? How are you going to deliver your message? How are you going to track that messages’ effectiveness? Should it be professionally produced, Do you want it to be public or private? Who is going to help you with your message?

So what is InnoVenture Southeast 2009

Well…according to John Warner on, it is defined as:

“In the annual InnoVenture conference’s sixth year, the economic storm is raging all around us, wrecking havoc with organizations trying to reinvent themselves and launching out very talented people looking to create new ones. In addition to the Innovation Hall with dozens of exhibits by major corporations and universities, and fifteen entrepreneurs making elevator pitches, InnoVenture also features an awesome line-up of global thought leaders.”

Wow…now that is a loaded answer. It is true, the economic storm is raging all around us, and yes organizations are trying to reinvent themselves. How about organizations, entrepreneurs inventing themselves…Innovating and collaborating in one forum, one place, one hall, with many conversations.

How does that conversation happen, well for every action there must be a reaction. How about Dissoi Logoi (a Sophistic writing by an unknown author) – the words are “Greek words for ‘different words.’ The phrase really carries the meaning of contrasting words, and it refers to the ancient rhetorical practice of arguing both sides of an issue. ”

This leads me to think about the first part of InnoVenture…Inno for Innovation. There will be people from all walks of business talking innovation in their contexts. Whether it is Sustainability, Advanced Materials, Entreprised Systems Management…or digital media, social media, logistics, medical devices, or just being an entrepreneur. Different people from different disciplines, different walks of life coming together with their own “rhetorical argument” seeking conversation of opposing thoughts.

We are all a part of innovation by merely walking through the doors at the Carolina First Center in Greenville, SC. Why? Well, it is like being a part of a fraternity, people that you can connect with who understand what it means to push the boundaries, broaden the mind, and engage in a conversation. A concersation that might lead to an idea that has not been considered…listening to those “different words”, words of innovation.

We are “people looking to create new ones”, new ideas, new thoughts, new conversations…we are looking to innovate. I know I am! I hope to engage!

Final Cut or Avid Media Composer…which one will I choose???

I get the question all the time, what do you use to edit video for your projects. That is actually a good question, one that is constantly discussed in our office. The quick and dirty answer is we use Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer on a Mac OS platform. Both are considered industry standard Non-Linear Editors or NLE’s.

Now what does that mean to the average customer, well it depends on your knowledge and experience. But from a final product standpoint, you will not see a difference in the final product. It is purely an individual editor’s preference. But this is how I try to help people understand…from my perspective.

I produce most web based video content using Final Cut Pro Studio. This is for many reasons, but mainly for workflow. I am extremely fluent with this software and their are many times that one person might be working on a project and a few months down the road, need to re-open the project for some reason. Another computer might need access to the project, so I can open from any of our Mac Computers.

Another reason for FInal Cut Pro Studio is that it integrates well with our web delivery workflow. It works in a Quicktime based file format; so when ever we encode (dump video into the software), Final Cut creates a native Quicktime that can viewed without the use of Final Cut software. That might be confusing to some…but makes life easy.

Final Cut Studio Pro is extremely intuitive so that a novice video editor can jump in and figure out how to use the software…especially if you have any video editing background.

Now…I am a trained/certified Avid Video Editor. I have been using Avid products since 1995 from the early days of the Avid NewsCutter Software. I started my career editing video using two video decks (essentially two Beta Decks side-by-side), editing from one tape to the next. This is considered editing in a Linear Method. Avid’s software (in my humble opinion) was design for those experienced editing using a Linear Method. I edit video using that mentality…and Avid Software fits me well.

Most experienced television video editors & producers have knowledge of Avid Software, so when I work with higher end production using workflow to deliver Standard Definition/High Definition content for television distribution…I use Avid Media Composer. It has all the 3D graphic editors and animation built into the system and works well with High Definition content. If I was to do the same with Final Cut Studio Pro, I would have to use After Effects and other 3rd Party Applications to execute what I can do in Avid Media Composer.

So, this discussion has some bottom-line thoughts.

1) Both Final Cut Studio Pro and Avid Media Composer software are professional grade video editing software.

2) It all depends of the Video Editing Professional and the project, this helps me decide which software I will use to best meet the demands of the workflow and final delivery of the project.

3) Both deliver a high quality final product, whether it is for the web, television, or other video delivery method.

4) I just like having gadgets….the more I have, the more fun it is for me to do our job!

Using Online Video To Promote Your Business

Ever thought about using online video to promote, raise awareness, or distribute a message that is important to a target audience? Well, the experts think you should embrace online video as a professional means to spread your targeted message to your targeted audience.

Video Sharing Market
The market is huge and continually growing. 14.3 billion videos were viewed online in December, 2008 and increased by 13% in February 2009.

“For both startups and Fortune 100 companies, getting on board with online and mobile video is increasingly key to attracting and engaging a fickle audience. The next generation of big-time consumers (those under 18) are already more likely to be watching video on a computer or mobile phone than they are on a traditional television set.”

“Deliver content consistently. There should be a predictable pattern to retain and grow your audience. Sign up for long-term deals, so your audience doesn’t find that you dropped their favorite video content from your site.”

“For both startups and Fortune 100 companies, getting on board with online and mobile video is increasingly key to attracting and engaging a fickle audience. The next generation of big-time consumers (those under 18) are already more likely to be watching video on a computer or mobile phone than they are on a traditional television set.”

Know, engage, and interact with your audience. Understanding exactly who you are targeting with your video content and what their needs are in terms of information or entertainment will help you make a compelling proposition to potential advertisers and ultimately sell ads, especially if you cover a niche topic.

Record year for video content consumption
“How could it not?! Video consumption continues to grow at an astonishing rate. As of October 2008, 13.5 billion videos were watched online. That is a 45% rise on the number watched in October 2007. The availability of super high speed broadband along with more HD video content will drive more people to consume more video online.”

Video monetization becomes reality
“Professionally-produced content, targeted to specific audiences, will see a burst of excitement as advertisers will see this as a safe bet to put their money on. In response to the influx of advertising dollars, video publishers will need scalable platforms with a wide range of performance metrics.”

“The good news is top notch content should eventually stand out from the marginal stuff. And the vast majority of Web content would probably fall into the marginal category, if that. So it’s important to put some extra time and effort into consistently creating good stuff — the kind of content that will turn heads, lead to conversations, and eventually build long lasting relationships. And that’s really not so bad after all, now that I think about it.”

Sources:, Clemson University’s Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship, and Technology

Bobby’s Road Trip Blog: Wrap Up

So this little Road Trip has come to a close and man this crew has had a blast.

We are not only colleagues, managers, and just plain Road Trip GRUNTS; but we act like siblings, crotchety old poops, and dedicated football fans after a huge win. We are THE Road Trip Support Staff…musical accompaniment is playing (I am thinking something like the Superman theme song???) So here is your chance to get to know a few of us…enjoy!

Now everyone knows the WCNC-TV Road Trip Show Hosts. You have Chris, Sonya, Terri, Chuck, and Mike. Chris and Sonya would trade off every now and then…that’s what we call, “Big Time”! But they have been with us all the way through, starting back at Halloween in Baxter…they made us laugh, cry, and even made the support staff scream. But we know it’s not their fault, they just claim they have to keep us on our toes! A little, aside…we just make fun of them when they walk out the door to head home, WHILE WE CLEAN UP! Anchors…it’s a tough life! Well, it’s time to meet the staff that makes the Road Trip happen, the GRUNTS! We earn our half dollar.

Well, the “Visionary”…her name is Allison Andrews and her “official” title is Special Projects Manager. I guess they had to give her a big title for being a creative genius! Oh, by the way…she has to approve this before it hits the web, so I am trying to take care of a little brown-nosing business! Anyways, she is the visionary of each and every stop. She writes, plans, and creates her little playhouse show each day from scratch. She is also the one who thinks up the impossible and hopes that it can be technically achieved! And when it does, you see this smile on her face that makes you think she just got served her favorite ice-cream!

The “Implementer”…that is Steve Kiser and his official title is Engineering Supervisor. This guy is the gadget man who can’t stop moving even though the work has been complete. It is his job to implement and achieve the Allison Andrews un-achievable! From wireless cameras to mobile, digital transmission…he finds a way to provide the exact technical support necessary to make the show seamless! His only downfall, he loves him some UNC! Oh, by the way…he thinks he is a Photojournalist????

“Whose your daddy” Jim Alvarez is the one that makes this ship run…he should know how since he is News Operations Manager. He is the budge tman, drill sergeant who believes in the big picture…the Big T Truth – WCNC-TV’s rise to prominence! His leadership keeps us moving forward and provides the appropriate perspective whether the set has proper lighting or the RV is stocked with Oatmeal Crème Pies! In his former life, he was a News Photojournalist in the major metropolis of Miami – for close to 25 years! He knows the drill and keeps the drill running…plus, he feeds us really good, “Whose your daddy???”

“Oh Voice of Reason” Mariano Archdeacon is the man with the plan…our trusty Director…he is actually the Production Manager, but Director by trade. Yep, he is the one tells us which camera is going to show what and who. There is actually more to the “Oh Voice of Reason” name for Mariano, he implements the visual imagery of Allison by making sure each camera shoots every shot according to the plan. We have an afternoon meeting with the crew before the show (around 3pm everyday). This is where he directs all the Photojournalists and Talent how they will visually appear. And then during the show, he talks to the Photojournalists over headsets during each segment while implementing the plan. His voice is always clam, concise, and precise ensuring the vision is television magic…hence, “Oh Voice of Reason”!

“Ms. All-Purpose Player” Jodi Winterton, you think is our Audio Technician extraordinaire; yeah, she fooled us all on this Road Trip! She is like a package deal…and if they had a draft for television personnel, she would be the one that would probably fall in middle of the second round with her un-assuming skills. But once you signed her, you would realize you better pony up some cash at the end of her contract. She can step in as a director and switch the show, tackle any engineering challenge, and pick up a camera and make movie magic! Yep, she out performed all of us this month, turning managers’ heads forcing them to give a “Come to Jesus” talk to the rest of the crew! You over-achiever Jodi! Go Ahead, Girl…hold out for negotiations!

Alright “Slick” Rick Grinstead…your praise is a comin! This guy just made my life easy during the month of November! As most of you know, Allison has this hang-up for trying to see how many places I can get to in less than a minute, with a twenty-five pound camera on my shoulder! Well, Rick made that easy! He is a Maintenance Engineer by profession but he sure knows how to problem solve and jump in as a team player. He was always there pulling the cable that connected me to the truck as I was running from one place to the next. He was always fixing cable connections on my camera with only thirty seconds to air-time! And when I was on the other side of the earth, he would grab my Digital SLR (Canon D20) and help me take pictures of the crew for my Blogs! And even though he is a Gamecock…I think I will shake his hand at the end of the day! Thanks Rick for making this month FUN!!!

Mr. Bob “The Oak” VanTieghem is the MAN. Why do I call him “The Oak”; well, it’s because he is the most dependable…and can always hold a shot off the shoulder that is solid as an oak! I mean, he can shoot a mile down the road and not even give the appearance that he is off of his tripod! And outside of holding a steady shot…he is the so dependable! You know that if by chance you walked out the door and left some weird gizmo that is…ohhh so important…you just wait ‘til Bob can find his bag of tricks! He has the “hook-up”!!! And if you need to find your way somewhere in the Tarheel State, “The Oak” has got you covered, because one of his duties is driving our satellite truck, and he has taken it through every nook and cranny in this state! As we call him…BVT, thanks for making sure…well, we were always covered!

And for you “Mr. Ironman” Steve Reynolds, I have lost ten pounds this Road Trip! Yep, he has kept me on task with my new diet! He is an Emmy Award Winning Photojournalist and a creative genius…but he is also the silent voice that has reinforced my conscience when it comes to getting back in shape! Even though I am a long…LONG WAYS from where I need to be, he has helped me with my final objective: REMOVE THE LARD! And for you Oklahoma fans…he loves him some Sooners! Yep, he has challenged (and opened up a CAN) on me when it comes to a match-up between Clemson and Oklahoma on his PlayStation! What he doesn’t remember is that Clemson beat Barry Switzer and his Oklahoma crew in the 1989 Citrus Bowl – Switzer’s last game! I am ready for a re-match Mr. Ironman!

How shall I introduce ole Dan, to me he is “Dan the Man”! Yep, Dan Crawford is not a fulltime employee of WCNC-TV but was hired for the month of November to help us where ever we saw fit! Poor Dan wasn’t sure where he was going to fit into a crew that already had developed a persona…but after a week, he was sure making our lives easier! This man can light a set with the best of them! What you don’t realize is that during the month of November, the light changes dramatically, calling for many different lighting techniques! From the use of “white 56K” light to “tungsten yellow” he knew exactly what it would take to get the job done! And he was always one step ahead, lighting and re-lighting…and I would fine myself saying, “Dan…You’re the MAN!” Well, Dan…hats off to ya, thanks for all your help!

So this is the time that I put a little plug in for those who would come out to either help when they had time or when we needed extra help! I give you the “12th Man Award”…here’s to you Jen Schnabel, Ken Carty, Bob Kachmarick, and Christopher Hayes! Yep, they added that little extra pizzazz that only these kindred soles possess!

Well, this will be the last Road Trip Blog for 2005. Bobby “Bloggy” Rettew has attempted to bring a different perspective to this month long trip. We have taken this show on the three times over the last two years and have met a lot of nice people. It is my hope that you the viewer have enjoyed our little tour of the area.

From Bloggy Rettew….thanks for everything!

Originally posted:


What I’m thankful for…

It has been a while since I sat down and jammed out another edition to Bobby’s Blog. For all you faithful readers, I have taken on a new name on this Road Trip…Bloggy. My real name is Robert Alan Rettew, Jr. and my father decided I looked like a Bobby when I popped out into this crazy world. Well, now Bobby has morphed into Bloggy…hmm, not sure about the sound of that, but I guess it will work? Now, let’s get back to the heart of the matter. Last week was absolutely crazy…and I mean weird, wacky crazy. From Biltmore to Mooresville then the South Park Tree lighting…we needed a day to enjoy family, food, and REST. Well, actually more food than rest. And as my family sat around the table we each took a turn sharing what we are thankful for…and it occurred to me to do the same for this edition of Bobby’s Blog.

Oh…where do I begin??? Hmm, I would have to begin how thankful I am for the many friends we have made along the way on each stop. It all started in Baxter…I never thought we would have so many people show up for Halloween. If you can only imagine all the different people from all the different cities that stuck their neck out, open their parking lots, cooked us food, and made sure we had all the necessary tools to make television magic!

It is still up for debate who loves us more…those Shelby people or the Gastonia people??? Alright, I am done being sentimental for a while. Let’s talk about what I am really thankful for, so buckle up.

I am really thankful that last week is over! Wow, the tree lighting was one long day. So long that I didn’t even have a chance to get my new Digital Canon D20 out to capture the madness. If people only knew what it took to actually get that day started, it would blow their minds. Just imagine three sets of “PR” people from three separate groups trying to make sure we park in three different spots. Three hours later we had displaced enough grass to sod a new single family home. I am still wondering if we are going to receive the bill for the trench the satellite truck dug while trying to park for the third and final time?

I am especially thankful for Friday and our visit to the new Northlake Mall. Let me clarify, I am thankful that Momma Bloggy was able to join the crew for a day while visiting during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Did she ever get an eye awakening moment! We pulled every bit of cable we had to get inside that mall and finished that last little bit of tape – which helped cover the cable so hundreds of thousands of eager shoppers wouldn’t trip and sue the pants of WCNC-TV. Momma Bloggy got to witness the Mike Redding antics as he laid flat on the floor of the mall, pretending he was exhausted from shopping. He was actually exhausted from being the only on-air talent that has been running from one side of a location to the other in less than 30 seconds…by the end of the Road Trip; he will be fully trained for the Boston Marathon.

So what else am I thankful for…hmm, let me think? Oh yeah…I still have one more final thought concerning the little wager between Chuck and I!

If most of you remember, Chuck lost a “little wager” when USC lost to Clemson two weekends ago. Yep, he bet his faithful colleague – me, Bloggy (who is a Clemson Grad…GO TIGERS). And being a man of his word, he did his sports last Tuesday night during the Mooresville Parade in a BRIGHT ORANGE jacket! While moaning and groaning (as any loyal USC fan would do) he explained the wager – with the help of Terri and Mike – and reminded us all that there will always be next year! Because of Chuck’s plight, I am thoroughly thankful that it wasn’t Bloggy’s plight, wearing Gamecock paraphernalia for a solid week! PUKE! Ohhh…am I thankful, the thought of Garnet & Black and the word Cocks (you know GameCocks) plastered to my head just doesn’t sit well with me. I would equate this with kissing my sister, cleaning a gorilla’s toe jam, or eating beets – maybe all the above! Thank you for Chuck Howard and his dire love for USC! I will quit harassing Chuck and taking advantage of his plight…it was fun though!

And finally, I am thankful for the wonderful crew on this ole Road Trip. We spend at least twelve hours a day, five days a week together. Traveling up and down the road, dealing with the worst situations and finding a way to make them work…visually! I am thankful (get ready, here comes the sentimental stuff) for the many friendships that have evolved, especially when I get irritable and they have to deal with my nasty mood swings! I am just plain thankful for the Road Trip!


Originally posted:

Road Trip moves into Biltmore Estate

There is a reason why so many people trek from all over country to see the Biltmore House.

There is a reason why so many people trek from all over country to see the Biltmore House. Every which way you turn, there is just such a beautiful, peaceful image that you could only wish your digital camera could capture.

When it is time to chop down the ole fern and unpack those dusty boxes full of decorations, the Biltmore takes on a whole new life. I think of the Biltmore at Christmas as everyone person’s fantasy of the perfect holiday home.

First of all, there are more rooms, walkways, and hidden passages than one could walk through in one day. Can you imagine sitting in front of a fire place that you could actually drive a Mini Cooper through? How about dining with the family in a room twice the size of the average American single family home, with a towering 30 foot Christmas tree…then disappearing behind a tapestry into a private room just to get away from the in-laws?

And for all you Martha’s, as you walk through the house, you are taking mental notes “Ahh, I am going to wrap garland around my chandelier this year.”

It is every American’s ideal home, the one you only hope and dream of somehow achieving in a lifetime, and it was only Mr. Vanderbilt’s bachelor pad!

I can just smell the sweet fragrance of the Christmas tree over the soft choir voices echoing from one stone pillar to the next, the sights and sounds of Christmas…Biltmore style. And then…we pulled up!

Yep, once again our over achieving alter egos parked that big ole satellite truck right smack dab in front of Biltmore’s front doors. I even took a picture from the RV to prove that our production vehicles (with 6NEWS plastered all over the place) were sitting a short jaunt from the main atrium.
And then, it was time to pull some cable. Hehe…I laugh now; but Tuesday, the Biltmore security was up in arms as we drug 5,000 feet of wet, smelly, black cable through the front of one of the French doors.

If you have ever been to Biltmore (at any time of the year) you will remember all the security, roped off rooms, and explicit instructions DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! It was like taking a herd of cattle through a room full of fine china from the Ming Dynasty! And there were pots from the Ming Dynasty in the library – used to have palm trees planted in them until the curators got a hold of them!

Where was I, ohhh; see…we get a little focused. One of the prerequisites for working in television is you have to have a great case of ADD. When we start working, there is nothing stopping our focus. Yeah…then, we met the security force of the Biltmore.

We were allowed behind the scenes and ropes of some of the most treasured areas of Biltmore. Every time we crossed a rope, a PR/Marketing representative had to call security to tell them we were crossing the rope, get clearance, then and only then were we escorted to the destination. That sounds reasonable if you are only carrying one load…yeah right.

We had to bring in cable, cameras, lighting, wireless microphones, and monitors. We had to test the cameras, audio, and lighting. Then we had to have furniture moved by a curator…if there was a slight possibility we might brush by the priceless article.

Now imagine this for eight different rooms spread out all over the house! And to top it all off, we had to pull cable up the front span of the house to the roof top.

Mr. Vandy must have been rolling over in his grave. I mean, if he was such a visionary…why not already have cable pulled throughout the house for us to plug into? It would have saved a lot of trouble on ours and the staff’s part! Oh, I remember, it was built in 1895…no television then, how could I forget. Well regardless, Mr. Vanderbilt was a true visionary! This man had all his I’s dotted and T’s crossed. We took a short tour of the attic and I noticed that the skeleton was built from steel. He was afraid of fires! There two-foot thick brick firewalls separating all the major sections of the house!

Anyways, it was worth all the mediation between the Marketing department and the Security force because the show was beautiful. It is not hard to do a visual show in such a visual setting! I am going to give a little shout out to K.C. of the Marketing department…she was the force behind our storm. If there was a way to walk from one side of the house to the other in less than a minute, she would find it!

But the best part of the day is when I made a new friend. I was trying to find a way to move into this next discussion with a natural twist. He came walking down the main staircase sporting his true colors! Yep, he was a South Carolina grad with all his garnet shining proudly as he walked in front of our lights. As you remember I am a Clemson grad and blood runneth ORANGE. So I put away all my pre-dispositions and shook his hand, because we beat those Gamecocks this past weekend.

This brings me to my final thought. Chuck Howard (faithful Gamecock) talked me into a little, let’s say friendly wager. I’m just glad Clemson won, because I was sweating the whole game – it was close, 13 – 9. Let’s just say Chuck will be sporting a Clemson pull-over tonight, ON AIR! Whoooo, Did I say I am glad we won…I am not sure if I could handle wearing something that says Gamecocks for five days straight! See ya at 4:30…Chuck will be there with all his colors; better yet, color – ORANGE!


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A loading dock of our own…

Did anyone ever think it would take five trucks to put on a month long show on the road? I mean we travel like no other; we have a satellite/production truck, back-up microwave truck, a lighting truck, an F-150 full on engineering paraphernalia, and a HUGE RV. I mean…an RV, just so we can meet, eat, and fill up three parking spaces! Well, most stops when the 6 News crew shows up on location, there is always that one person or security guard that didn’t know we are supposed to be there. You know, that one person that hasn’t had their ego petted lately and the MEDIA shows up in all its glory. And it takes three acts of congress, and enough time for me to play the slowest game of Sunday morning golf, to actually get in position to begin set-up.

But on Wednesday, the Carolina Place Mall gave us THE WHOLE LOADING DOCK to ourselves. I couldn’t believe my ears. We even had security guards waiting to accommodate our entourage! Allison, our trusty leader could have even parked her Monster Truck of an SUV in the spare space. Her Chevy must have forty-eight inch tires with a six inch lift; she will be premiering in the Monster Truck competition later on this month! The point of this is…the staff at Carolina Place Mall had their ducks in a row.

A brief tangent…where did that little get your ducks in a row idiom come from? I referred to the definition of the idiom on and found the following:
– Complete one’s preparations, become efficient and well organized, as in I’m trying to get my ducks in a row before I go to Europe. This synonym for get one’s act together probably alludes to lining up target ducks in a shooting gallery.

That’s weird, comparing organization to shooting fake ducks! I guess the next time I want to get all my ducks in a row…I will just line up the random things in the office I am trying to organize and shoot them with my grandfather’s, single action .357. More like disintegration than organization.

Anyways, now that I have cleared that up…Oh what fun it is to ride in five truck caravan, hey! And our caravan found the newly renovated Carolina Place Mall Food Court ready for our three thousand feet of cable, three cameras, six wireless microphones, two dozen lights, and four festive anchors (Chris, Terri, Mike, and Chuck). I am just surprised we didn’t trip any young children with all the cable we pulled! We used so much tape to secure the cable to the floor; we had to call in reinforcements…the Carolina Place Mall support staff. Yep, they made sure those mats – covering the cable for all the cameras – were so secure that it took almost the same amount of time to play another eighteen holes of golf to rip the tape back up! No one was going to trip on their watch!

There was a lot to do at the mall. From Mike trying to take us on a “Behind the Scenes” tour of Victoria Secret – Mike remembered it was a family show –, to Santa making an early appearance, and of course….food! Yep, a taste-test of some really good turkey…Chris is still nibbling.

But the highlight of the night was the fashion show. I am not sure if the WCNC-TV Engineering staff was more excited about the fashion show or the parents of the models because they were on live television! Both were taking pictures…and not of each other! And there was a chance to check out some new gadgets from Radio Shack. Terri and Chuck got so carried away with all the radio controlled toys…that the frequency from the controller messed up the frequency of their microphones. I guess no one was really listening, they were watching Chuck trying to run everyone over with the radio controlled hovercraft! Boys and their toys??? Actually my grandfather told me that “he who dies with the most gadgets, WINS!”

Speaking of men and their toys…we are off to the Convention Center in Uptown Charlotte for the 2005 International Car Show. I hope they have the new Mini Cooper! The Road Trip roles on…ZOOM ZOOM!


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Snakes, Parrots, and T-REX…

You think Mariano was scared of T-Rex…even the snakes made him quezzy. Direct quote from Mariano, “Whenever I see a snake in the road, I will cross ten lanes of traffic to hit it, then stop, back-up, and run over it again!” Man, what a barbaric guy…and he has two kids! Let’s just say we kept him isolated to the production truck! Enough of giving Mariano a hard time…let’s move on to more important topics.

One of the highlights was Mike Redding and his weird phobia not wanting strange animals to crawl all over him! Let’s just say he was attacked by a Kinkajou. BLESS YOU! No, that is not a French sounding sneeze; it is a monkey looking animal that is about is hyper as the Tasmanian Devil on a mixture of crack and chocolate! Can Tasmanian Devils eat chocolate??? Are they like dogs and die from a single dose???

I don’t know, it just sounded funny right there, maybe not! Anyways…that poor little Kinkajou was fixated on trying to get down Mike’s shirt. Now ladies…don’t get jealous; Mike put a good fight. I think he was actually scared of the harmless little guy! Now that I think about it, the little Kinkajou actually reminded me of a mixture between a little monkey and a cat. It had a cute little face and long tail like a cat, and the hands and feet like a small little monkey. And yes, the demeanor of a Tasmanian Devil on a mixture of crack and chocolate! Newsflash…straight from the Allison Andrews news ticker update – “This just in…Mike Redding was just attacked by a Kinkajou where the only injury sustained was the mangled earpiece ripped from his ear. Let’s hear from Mike ‘I’m just glad he didn’t eat my ear. Allison could have assigned me to hold the snake.” I think the Kinkajou has been taking lessons from Mike Tyson!

Now on to the animals that give most of us the creepy, crawlies – including Mariano – PYTHONS. Yep, as promised…the Schiele Museum of Natural History has a python and is about as fat around as my arm! Chuck, Chris, and Emmy Award Winning Photojournalist Steve Reynolds received a first hand Show & Tell session of our slimy friend. I am glad I was at least ten feet away…you know, the length of the python. As Steve was shooting the python, I could hear Mariano screeching over the headset.

I would be willing to bet that a snake that size could knock the alignment out of his car! Maybe the cost benefit analysis would be worth it in his mind…one more snack, off the streets! Mariano secretly works for animal control, undercover snake apprehension officer Poor Mariano…I have been fixated on his trepidation of snakes, all in good humor!

Well, I just want to give a shout out to the peeps of the Scheile Museum of Natural History! You have basically made four grown men want to crawl back to their mamas! Way to go…we hope to see you next time! And to Paige Herman – Marketing Director – you now have a new marketing campaign: They Came, They Saw, and They Left…Plum SCARED! The Road Trip roles on to another chapter in this month long quest of public relations!


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