Oct 19

It only starts with Halloween puns

I didn’t order spooky soup or vampire vegetables or poltergeist pasta, but there were ghosts above my lunch today.

I did have a scary sandwich, though.

And we once again had the now age-old conversation about teaching tech versus teaching principles.
“You do not need,” I said, “a $20,000 camera to teach the principles of videography. Some of these I can teach with just this piece of paper.”

Look! Composition!

The point being not that paper replaces a camera — though if you had some good stock I suppose you could create your own camera obscura — but that you can do a lot with with a more basic, straightforward, efficient camera. Especially when you’re trying to teach the basics.

It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new toy, but to teach tools in a perpetually (and rapidly) evolving industry is to shortchange your students. Mostly, I was just pleased with myself. That paper-camera composition joke was on the short list for the day’s Best Point List.

Went for a run this evening. Just a quick, slow little 5K around the neighborhood. It was fun, except for the parts where I still have to do intervals. I’m almost done with those, I think, thankfully. I’m 17 miles into my run recovery. Still wrapping my foot. Still feeling pretty decent, except for the boring walking part. But I’m not up to running full speed — which isn’t fast, mind you — but I can blur a camera phone:

We’re starting to get a bit of secondary color in the neighborhood, though. The pecan trees are shedding their nuts. There was, briefly, a tailwind. Mostly just the mild sort that hits you in the face and chills the sweat off the skin.

Television! Time flies. Why, it seems like just yesterday that she was here, tripping over herself, learning how to do the TV thing. Now she’s a cool, calm, confident and self-possessed TV person at a station up north. She dropped by a segment last night, a total surprise.

And some news:

Are you following me on all the social media? You should follow me on all of the social media. There’s tons more fun stuff smeared all over the Internet, because the world has forgotten that we should host these things on our own platforms. Look me up. There’s genius and keen insights to behold and enjoy.

Oct 19

Spanning the generations

Here are a few more student productions:

These are from last night. They’re starting to get the hang of this. They’d probably be even better if I didn’t manage to get in the way here or there.

I could show you other videos that other people have made, some truly stellar work is floating around. But, instead, I’m going to go back to the 1930s. I’m reading (still) Frederick Lewis Allen’s Since Yesterday. It’s a good book, but it is like that bit of steak that just won’t get chewed up to a size that’s safe to swallow. The 1930s, which is the focus of this story, just … keeps … going. Imagine how it must have felt to live through that decade.

But the Kindle says I’m 70-some percent through the book, and we’ve got to a happy subject for a change, the big boom of radio.

Allen cites a Depression-era Harper’s Magazine story which recorded there were 17 symphony orchestras in the United States in 1915. By 1939, Allen tells us, there were over 270. This surge was brought on because of the huge boom in radio. (In 2014, Wikipedia tells me, there were 1,224 symphony orchestras in the U.S. not including our many modern youth orchestras.) Music programming was a popular choice and radio helped contribute to a successful, nationwide musical education, that is, perhaps, peerless.

Part of that success is owed to a program called The NBC Music Appreciation Hour. This show, conducted by Walter Damrosch (a famed composer), was broadcast from 1928 to 1942. During the thirties, an estimated seven million children heard the show weekly, in some 70,000 schools nationwide.

The show also aired on Saturdays in Nashville. It was the lead in for WSM’s weekly barn dance. Once, in 1928, Damrosch said ‘there’s no room in the classics for realism.’ George Hay, who was on his way to becoming a legend in country music and the host of the barn dance, came on right after and said his show was full of realism.

“The program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Dr. Damrosch told us there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the ‘earthy’.”

That’s how the Grand Ole Opry it’s name. DeFord Bailey, a Tennessee-native and the grandson of slaves, played the first song after Hay’s speech, a song that would soon become a classic, Pan American Blues:

Bailey was a multi-instrumentalist, and they say he was impressive on most everything he played. He was an Opry Star for about 13 years, and he toured the country. They fired him in 1941, ostensibly over some licensing issue, but if you read about it you get the sense there was a lot more, and a lot less, to the story, which wouldn’t surprise anyone. Bailey stayed in Tennessee, but didn’t play much publicly after that. He did come back much later for an Old Timer’s Special. Here’s a clip, two full generations after he kicked off the Opry:

Watch him. He doesn’t move. There’s no fanfare. There’s just that sound.

Sound defined everything.

Last week I reviewed a paper on the “Forgotten history of South Carolina radio.” It was about the 1920s and the stations that came and went, mostly in the low country. I loved the paper. I wanted it to do more, even as it did enough. It’s papers like that which sometimes make me wish I’d been a historian. But, then, I realize if there’s ever anything I want to learn about, I can just open someone else’s book and they’ve already uncovered the mysteries. Do you want to know about the first football game broadcast in South Carolina? This paper has it:

On October 7, 1923, the Charleston News and Courier reported that WSAC had carried live, play-by-play coverage of the September 29 Clemson-Auburn football game from Clemson’s Riggs Field. Since there is no record of any previous, live broadcast of a sporting event in South Carolina, the distinction of being the first plausibly belongs to WSAC. W.E. Godfrey termed the broadcast a success (the game’s final score was 0-0) and said that WSAC would provide play-by-play coverage of other Clemson home football games that season. The professor added that it was likely that WSAC would soon become a “popular station.”

The Clemson student paper, which at one point wrote about their team as “The Jungaleers” wrote about the game extensively. It’s a slow load, but if you’re into this sort of thing, you should give it a try.

Anyway, the mystery in this particularly scholarly paper that I was reviewing for a conference was how those early local Carolina stations later gave way to colonial programming from out of state. The answer, as ever, is economics. That station that started in a furniture store, or the one that was just a front to sell radios and a few other examples, are remembered as brief fly-by-night operations. None of them seemed to last more than two or three years. There were signal problems to contend with, as was the case in much of the country back then since the government wildly underestimated the booming growth of radio in every sense. And even the towns of South Carolina were rural enough that they didn’t get linked into the growing national networks until much later. By then the local stations were gone, the big signals were coming in from cities out of state and that’s your colonial broadcast. Without reading a complete history, I’m guessing it probably didn’t start stabilizing for local broadcasters until the early 1940s, or perhaps the 1950s. That’s just the story of broadcasting in the South.

But the 1930s in South Carolina radio would be intriguing too. A couple of quick searches showed me that some key names from some of those early 1920s stations wound up running other projects, creating and building stations that would ultimately become broadcasting staples in the palmetto state.

Maybe the 1920s and 1930s radio is an interesting tale in any state. Maybe I should look that up and pretend to be a historian.

Or I could make these connections:

Maybe in ninety years or so someone will look at podcasts the same way. Maybe someone midway through the 22nd century will figure out how to power up, convert and encode YouTube videos and start stumbling on some of these things we are doing today. Maybe they’ll think highly of us.

Oct 19

On Wednesdays we share videos

Isn’t Phoebe cute? Scroll down right after this post if you missed her Catober debut. You can, of course, see all of the Catober photos at that link as the month continues.

Phoebe loves to be in the room with you, but she’s not too keen on being held. Unless it is on her dime, and then you should put everything down and get ready to have paws in your face. When she does want to cuddle she’s wholly invested in it. Even if she doesn’t like being held, she has become very receptive to our pets. She was a bit standoffish at first, and maybe there was a story there, but even then she always wanted her belly rubbed. So she gets a lot of belly pets. She also loves playing with her toys, and I think she’s trying to tell us right now we should play more. For the most part she only scratches the things she’s supposed to, and she does a pretty good job about not being on surfaces a cat shouldn’t be on. She’s also taken the top level of this very involved cat structure as her own and she likes to roll over and see the world from upside down up there.

Also, we are waiting on her to absolutely lose it on her brother and beat him up. Poseidon is kind of mean to her, but we’ll hopefully get that sorted out soon.

And now for some videos! We’re in award-nominating season right now, and some episode of almost all of these shows is getting pushed forward for consideration. Won’t you keep your fingers crossed with us until finalists are announced in December, or until your hand cramps up, whichever comes first.

This week’s episode of Not Too Late:

If you’re more of a morning person, here’s the Breakfast Club:

And we’d welcome you to the news, as well:

They shot that episode last night. One of the anchor’s entire family was in the studio watching, and it was also her birthday. No pressure, right?

This one is also from last night:

And we are all caught up again. Until Thursday, which is tomorrow. I’ll definitely be behind by tomorrow.

Sep 19

Hey! News!

I went for another run this evening, and soon enough, perhaps, it will become something between habit and de rigueur once again.

Today I got in 3.1 miles, a full 5K, if you will. And I didn’t run-walk it 50-50. I’m told that, given my particular foot issue the run-walk interval is the ideal way to ease back into things. Take it easy is the strategy, and I’m fine with that. But I did run more than I walked today. It’s a no particular-goal-progression I’m after here.

While still stretching, taping, doing exercises and icing if necessary. So if you see my feet going weird directions, it is probably deliberate.


Here are the shows the news crews produced on Tuesday night. First the newsier news show, now with a new intro:

And then there’s the pop culture news show:

Hopefully that show will get a new intro soon, as well.

But, right now, I need an outro.

…. Bye!

Sep 19

The place where summer and fall meet

This was a little spot I stumbled into over the weekend at the race upstate. The leaves are turning up there, the buzzing things are still singing their chorus of eternal summer:

God bless ’em.

This was in a little spot between the road and nothing. From a car you wouldn’t even notice this, looking for all the world like just a little place they scooped the soil up to mound for the road above. In this little clump of trees, not even a tree line, really, there was a little bridge:

And of course, the accompanying 4-wheeler trail.

If you walked over that bridge, crossing the thick mud patch below where the rain and road drainage inevitably gathered, you’d see a little house and barn off in the distance about 150 yards away. It looked charming enough. Who knows what prompted them to build that little footbridge, aside from muddy boots.

I’m telling myself these yellowed because they got snapped off in a storm, not because they knew what was coming:

I should enjoy the fall, it is a beautiful fall we get here, but I can’t get over the feeling of: Again?