Tuesday, November 6, 2012


    Election night broadcasts were my favorite.  It was all "in the moment," unscripted, spontaneous and adrenalin ripped. 
      Starting out I covered campaign or party headquarters, grabbing interviews and reporting on the numbers as received by the partisans.  Later I would be at the anchor desk, cutting back and forth between field reporters, network feeds, interviewing candidates, moderating our analysts and reporting the numbers.  Hundreds of people worked behind the scenes in a kind of full court press involving satellites, trucks, remotes, control rooms, computers, results and always the story was changing.   
      Some good journalists faltered in that kind of rapid fire circus, but I loved it.  Ad libbing was no problem, and as long as the technology did what it was supposed to be, it was thrilling.  
       As a senior news executive I directed those hundreds of 
people in that army of journalists and technology.  I'd pace on the top tier of our multi leveled central control room, roam into the studios and work with our anchors and analysts or stand in my office watching 4 television sets and a computer screen.  It was an ultimate adrenaline pump.
      There was a time when I was brought back as the "senior analyst" meaning the old guy on the set who "had been there and done that."  Think Tom Brokaw, today.
       This evening I'll probably drive Lana crazy with my channel hopping, computer searching, texting, and phone calls with people around the country.  It will be fun, with
no pressure, but I think perhaps the greatest thrill was my very first election night, covering a mayors race.  At the end of a long night, our radio anchor had us all looped together in a "talk back" debrief where we shared our impressions.  I remember driving home that night thinking, "Man, I've arrived in the big time!"
Yesteday's post was a bit of slap dash, iphone based view 
of the Fairmont. Both it and San Francisco deserve a more deliberate treatment.


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See you down the trail.


  1. Elections, snowstorms, tornados, hurricanes...all the best times to be a broadcaster. I'm so old I remember local elections being tallied on chalk boards.

    My grandfather was a county judge and we sat through four elections with him, none close, but always exciting.

  2. I left my heart in San Francisco. It's easy to see why.

  3. Tom, your phone has a great camera. You have a good eye. I like the properly labeled POST. I Lexing-ton, KY I remember well a subdivision entrance properly labeled STONEWALL on a stone wall.

    And I painfully remembered the first political reporting in each station where I knew nothin' about nobody' and still stood there with some "authority." And then the time that the news director told nobody (including his staff) that we were to be LIVE that night in the 6pm news. We/they had rigged three locations downtown together into one microwave hop from a hotel top-floor window back to the tower. A technician watched a TV and switched a small box from A to B or C depending which reporter was mentioned. Many complications. No communications. Yet, we were on the air LIVE and the other TVs were not.

    And, under pressure, I called the loser after his speech "Mayor" when he was not. Mayor Graves was the same name as in the city I had just left. Several thought I had lost my mind. I was just under a lot of pressure. And so it goes. -w-

  4. Sharon Butsch FreelandNovember 6, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    In the photo with Coit Tower in the background and Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in the foreground, your view stopped just short of 241 Francisco Street, which was the address of the apartment building where I lived in 1970. Francisco Street is two blocks north of Lombard Street, the street that begins the climb up Telegraph Hill. Northbound Grant Avenue ends at Francisco Street.

    1. Sharon-
      Well, if I would have known that, I would have opted for a wider shot!
      I forgot you were a resident here, back then. What a magnificent city.
      Best to you. Happy Autumn

  5. Spent a few days at the Fairmont on my honeymoon. I have fond memories of the style and elegance of the hotel. And of course San Francisco is always a magical place.

  6. 1. Fairmont = simple elegance and charm and history, and yes, class

    2. We need to dine at that City icon, Tadich Grill:

    3. I hesitate to suggest that your election night rush was what we all had at the Pentagon when things went ugly - but it was. It clearly was exciting but the downside was that, unlike an election, something was really FOR KEEPS and some people likely died

  7. Understand what you are saying. We had dangerous moments in the field, but nothing like the reality you describe.
    I like your idea re: the Tadich.