Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm on TV, but probably not enough to hurt anything

For the benefit of dozens who've asked (technically, 0.25 dozen), my schedule on KOLO TV has been set: I'll be doing taped commentary, a couple of minutes or so, on the 6:30 News on alternate Wednesdays, then make a fleeting appearance live on Daybreak, the morning show, the next day. This is final until it changes, and I'll try to give notice here.
I say "fleeting" because Television Time, it turns out, is different from other time. While I was waiting for my first morning gig a couple of weeks ago, host Anne Cutler glanced up and said, "You've got a lot of time. What are you going to talk about?"
This was a dual surprise. I didn't know I had any time--I thought she'd ask questions and I'd say things like, "That's an interesting point, Anne" and "I hadn't considered that angle, but you may be right." And because I'd figured she'd steer the ship, I didn't have anything in mind to say.
Not a novelty, actually. I often started columns with no idea where they'd end.
In writing a column, though, you have a keyboard, a BACKSPACE key and a couple of hours. In this case, the camera was rolling in 3, 2, 1 ....
Well, OK: I said something (I have almost no recollection of what), and nothing bad happened, and after awhile I began to develop a notion of what I was talking about and where I was headed. I figured I'd wrap it up in a couple of minutes, nod at Cutler and let her figure out what to do with the rest of my "lot of time."
About then, though--I think this may have been a minute or so into my warm-up--she scribbled something on a piece of paper and turned it so I could see it.
"30 seconds," it said.
Thirty seconds? Thirty seconds? When she said "a lot of time," I was thinking along the lines of 10 minutes. Not that I wanted that long, but that's what "a lot of time" means outside of television.
Half an hour; that's a lot of time. The only place I knew of where 30 seconds was a lot of time is in the dentist's chair.
Shutting up in 30 seconds required not just a change of plan, but a change of topic: I realized I wouldn't have time to make whatever my final point was on whatever I was talking about (I'm telling the truth when I say I can't remember it), so I pretty much just . . . stopped. Rush Limbaugh's gotten away with that for years: Ramble on until the second hand gets to the 12, put some stress on your last two words as though they were clinched your argument, then just stop talking.
Cutler blinked, and I may have detected a half-second pause while she registered the fact that I'd fallen silent. Then she picked up wherever she'd left off, the camera shifted away from me and I got up and went to breakfast.
It may be harder than it looks, this "television."


Blogger tuzoner said...

Here's what 30 seconds would get me:

um... er.. uh..


I always said in the TV biz - it's the ones that make it look easy are the true professionals.

Just ask any politician about the importance of the 10 second sound bite. Oh and BTW, this is what our political culture and life has been reduced to IMHO.

10:16 AM  
Blogger sabjoro said...

You get up before the sun, get ready for work, drive into town for 30 seconds?

Farley, make it worth your while. Demand at least 3 minutes.

I value your opinion more than I do Rush or Sean and I wish to hear what you have to say rather than a quick thought or two between commercials.

2:44 PM  
Blogger rosebud said...

just caught your act on news?no!
"the views, comments, or concerns expressed in this commentary" were damn sure "not those of KOLO-TV, its management, staff, or its advertisers."

i can't wait to see the knee jerk reaction from the local hick redneck morons.

7:03 PM  
Blogger ReconRanger said...

It's interesting joining Cory on his journey of discovery of broadcast news. Understand we are laughing with him not at him.

It's typical of a key-banging journalists on the print side of the house to disparage the straight-teethed, sound-bite-seeking brothers and sisters of image-based journalism.

"Packaging stories into 90-second blocks, how shallow," the ink-stained slaves lament as they stuff their Cup-O-Noodles into the microwave.

Consider this: How long does it take someone to read the stupid hede on your story written by a UNR intern and two-thirds of your lead? The notion that your print column engages everyone from first word to last is, of course, unrealistic.

At least the TV news readers have something more visually engaging that a static mug shot.

Your readers are interested in your journey as you discover how ignorant you were of some facets of the trade you plied for over 30 years. My, how hard you must have worked to stay ignorant.

11:34 PM  
Blogger TCLARKE said...

Hi Cory

How about doing a story on Bummertown(Boomtown) and Cabelas?
Wednesday the dealers were called to a meeting and told they no longer had health insurance and were part-time. 25+ year employees working 8-10 hrs. a week. Once a thriving casino now a ghostown. Would enjoy your take on this sad story.

8:04 AM  
Blogger honkytonkman said...

I love it when you "print" guys get on TV and find out the hard way what it's all about. Most of them seem to have the attitude, "I've written for a newspaper for 30-something years, so this will be a piece of cake."

You might consider a course or two in broadcast writing and presenting. Or, as I believe you're a pretty sharp guy, just record the news casts you're on and compare what you look and sound like to the others on the show.
Also, record what you've written at home. Let your wife listen to it, too. After you both stop laughing, you can rewrite.

My first tips: what's the laptop for? Ditch it if you're not going to use it.

Dump the wedding suit, you look like Walter Cronkite in 1965.

I love your writing and actually agree with your opinions most of the time, but broadcast writing is NOT the same as print. Remember, short sentences; about three words per second; simple words that anyone can understand.

And, try to look relaxed even if you're not. A trick I like is to talk to the camera man (if there is one)in a conversational manner. You sound like you are reading the column you wrote for the newspaper.

Email me if you want to know my credentials.

4:43 PM  
Blogger mindervillain said...

I know it's already occurred to you that there is a column, possibly several, in all the free broadcasting advice you're getting from us.

Maybe you should consider "presenting" it on KOLO rather than wasting it on your Coryblog fans.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

It's not the news part of TV that's hard for me--I haven't worked in news in almost 20 years, and have no desire to go back to it. It's hard work, often tedious, and most people don't pay attention anyway. The tough part for me is reading off the Teleprompter and sounding natural. The copy is fine when I write it, and if I were presenting it as a talk to a group I could see in front of me, people would be wetting their pants. What's struck me is how hard it is to present the same material in lively fashion, the way John Stewart or Keith Olbermann do. I'll either get better or they'll get rid of me, and I imagine it's about a toss-up at this point. I wouldn't mind not doing it, but I really hate to do it badly.
As for the Boomtown-Cabela's deal, I did mention that several weeks ago (scroll down to "Cabela's a Bust for Boomtown," and some Boomtown employes (I have breakfast there occasionally) have been telling me it's pretty grim. I think I've said this before, but if I haven't: Reno's annexation of Verdi was a terrible deal for those of us who live out there. There's no plus side to it--we get the traffic, pollution and increased crime (not quite yet, but just wait), the noise and bright lights, and there's STILL not a decent place to get a sandwich.
As for the computer on the KOLO set, it was there when I got there, and I'm afraid to touch it. I think it's Anne Cutler's.

9:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home