Mar 20

Tonight’s shoot

I worked from home today, which we’ll all be saying a lot in the weeks to come. I did go in this evening for a television taping. The sports crew was up tonight. They wandered in, wondering if this was the end of their year on campus. Our last in-person classes are tomorrow, and then there’s spring break and at least a few weeks of virtual classrooms.

Students are being encouraged to return home. We’re now well into the plans of how we work with 46,000 students on this campus, the 100,000-plus at all of the statewide IU institutions and the countless projects that go on at each and every one of them. Unprecedented is a word you’ll hear a lot. We’re making this work as we go, or some variation, is a theme everyone will hear a lot.

Grace and patience is something I imagine I’ll be saying a lot.

Sports kept it simple tonight. This was a sink in moment for a lot of us.

Michael Tilka, a senior, and IUSTV’s sports director for 2019-2020 signed off. It is surprisingly typical that he was talking about everyone else. That’s what he’s done throughout. He was, this semester, the longest-serving member at IUSTV. I hope that wasn’t the final sign off of his four-year run at IUSTV, where he’s won awards and helped others win awards. I hope it wasn’t the last time, because I would miss his demeanor and what he’s still capable of doing here.

What he saw his freshman year and what he’s leaving his senior year are remarkably different things. He, and the sports directors that came just before him, righted the ship. They developed the right kind of culture in the sports department. It is one of those things I’m always telling the student leaders will come up in a job interview. One of those questions that will give them an advantage, if they distill these experiences into an anecdote.

I sat in a post-production meeting with all the younger sports students tonight. I wanted to thank and congratulate them, as I so often want to do. They each went around the room and shared their favorite moment of the year — and I hope this is not the end of their year together, but it has that feeling. Some of the stories I knew. Some I heard for the first time. All of the memories got laughed at. They had a great time with it. Real bonding is taking place there. Michael, I think, realizes it’s a lasting culture he’s helped establish. Along the way, most importantly, he’s found his own mature voice.

I’m glad they didn’t ask me to take part in that favorite moment exercise. It’s hard to explain my favorite moment of a year when my favorite moment, each year, is always the same. It is gratifying to see the progress the students make, collectively and individually. Sometimes it is downright tangible.

I am proud of my friend Michael Tilka. I hope this wasn’t his last time on air at IUSTV, but if we don’t get these last few weeks back for him, and all of our other seniors, I am excited to see him go out into the world and continue his success.


Mar 20

So, late this afternoon, news happened

Sometime late this afternoon the email came down from the university president that in-person classes would be canceled after next week’s spring break. Instruction will be online for at least two weeks, and the campus would be closed for all but essential functions.

And that’s how the planning, and a series of meetings, began. Meantime, my news friends reworked their entire show in about 90 minutes, which is a fair approximation of the real world. I couldn’t be more proud of how they handled it.

Here’s how it all worked. Charlee had the lead story and a package about coronavirus anyway, one that she was producing before the big change. Then she ran into the IU spokesman and stood him up for a few questions. She brought in the video. She told us where the good quote was and sat down to rewrite her work while another producer took the footage and found the quote. Meanwhile, still others were reworking the script and the tease and plotting out how all of the other little things would have to change when you rewrite your entire show at almost the last minute. I couldn’t be more proud of how they handled it.

I know I wrote that twice, but I meant it.

So … we’ll work on campus this week. The students will start drifting away for their regular spring break plans or whatever their new plans will be. And then we’ll all work from home for a while. But I’m sure we’re do several more series of meetings and emails and phone calls detailing out how all that will go.

There’s no handbook for this. There’s no previous example to fall back on. No specific contingency plan. We’ll all have to work through it with grace and patience. That’s what I started telling students today. That and how the news people could and should keep telling stories in the weeks ahead – a lot of social media interaction. I hope that they do. It’s the story of their times, and they ought to tell it to their audience.

Mar 20

They’re talking bass-kit-ball

It was another night for television. Television has been written, television was produced and the audience shall have television. They’re going to enjoy it, too, if they like sports.

And they always ask the question: when is it too early to start talking about the basketball tournament? The answer it is never too early. Especially since everything will be different after next week, and we’ll have to figure it all out again.

There should be a consequence, a good-natured one mind you, for bad prognostication. It isn’t a tar-and-feather circumstance, of course, but maybe it’s a wear-a-feathery-mascot-and-hold-a-sign situation. A you have to do the next TV stunt sort of resolution. Something we can all laugh at, like predictions.

Which, hey, that’s just good practice, I guess. Plus, someone is going to get to say they were right about one of these predictions. That’s what’s fun about playing Nostradamus. If time proves you right you can have the crew roll that prediction as a replay: I was brilliant! See! If your predictions don’t work out, you just gloss over the whole notion of it ever happening.

Some things from Twitter:

I thought about that for a while. That might not have been what she wanted to happen, but it’s my mother so of course she knew it would happen. In a way, then, that was exactly what she wanted to happen. In which case, happy to help!

This gives me an idea:

How much could a full-ceilinged aquarium weigh, anyway? Surely the house’s structural supports could manage that sort of challenge.

It’s not like jellyfish weigh much, after all.

Mar 20

Some quick videos

Tonight’s news, because I really don’t understand where the day went:

The students shot another show this evening, and it’ll be out tomorrow. It was one of the many things that went by in a blur for me today.

The award-winning morning show returned last week. I neglected to mention it here, and shame on me:

That’s a new intro, by the way. That show always has a fun opening, really, but how can you not like a horns ensemble for a morning show?

They produced another episode yesterday:

It’s so nice when programs begin to see that momentum growing. Suddenly, they can take on any project.

Me? I’m going to take on the infinity effect.

Feb 20

Ever see a two-year punchline pay off?

Unannounced. Unheralded. Barely mentioned. We’re to that point now, were you don’t even acknowledge that more of this happened today:

I don’t even think that was in the forecast. So, naturally, it snowed all afternoon and into the evening. At least it will be sunny tomorrow, and we may hit 60 degrees on Sunday.

I was thinking of that as I walked up the street to Studio 5, where this took place.

We tell students you have to do a lot of boring work to get the good stuff, sometimes, and today was one of those times when it paid out.

For two years this show has wrapped every episode with the joke “Tune in next week when Jesse Eisenberg and I …” and some silly activity. Tucker’s said that for two years. Today the punchline paid out when Eisenberg, who’s in town visiting family, declined a dozen other requests and spent a few hours with our show.

At the end of the show he did a bunch of the things the show had been promising. The production went well. That video was from my phone; the actual show will be released Sunday and it has real production value. The crew were thrilled.

It was a great moment for them, and he was so gracious with his time and input. We’re all terribly excited with how it all came together.

After work it was to the grocery store. I bought many items and nearly broke the self checkout system because of it. One needs supplies, though, and sometimes a great many supplies. A problem with the self checkout is that you must put your item in the bagging area, which is finite. And if you move things out of the bagging area, or don’t put an item immediately in the bagging area, the register is not pleased. Do that enough and you start getting warning sounds. Donk! Donk! And if you do that enough an error message appears on the screen: someone will be coming to assist you.

Not that I need the assistance.

Not that anyone is coming.

It’s a symptom of our times, I suppose. A system designed to element staff has reduced staff to such a degree that there’s no one serving in an oversight capacity.

And if you’ve ever stood in line behind a person in the self checkout area — or me, this evening, I suppose — you’d wonder how prudent that is. But, hey, Friday. Weekend ahead, groceries going in the trunk …

I had to type it three times. The first two managed to come out grocers. As if I was stuffing people in the back of my car just because of where they worked. What a way to begin a terrible short story: “He never liked florists. Or butchers. Something about the way they smiled and smelled. Cashiers and stockers, they were guilty by association, and so they’d have to go, too. Not all at once, of course. There was only only so much you can steer in a cart, just so much you could put in the trunk of the car. But if you are precise, if you are crafty, you could manage before the next bulk mail circular went out, or the store owner really noticed.”

Which, hey, for the first draft of a bad short story, might be OK. Feel free to work on it this weekend, punch it into something good.