Saturday, April 22, 2023

Celebrating Mama, Cambria Style


        Cambria loves roses. Cambrians love nature. Earth Day here is a celebration. For the first time since the Covid pandemic, Greenspace formalized the celebration in the East Village. 
        Enjoy this break from everything else and visit Cambria as we all pay respects to Mother Earth.

        A golden sun blessed day, blooms, gentle breezes, cobalt blue skies, soccer, picnics, concerts, and peace. 
        Cheers to this extraordinary planet, and to all of the people who love and respect it. 
        Thank you Rachel Carson for the reporting that opened our eyes. 

        See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Bob and Bo-2 indelible characters

 Bob Campbell (photo courtesy of Rick Gevers)

        A favorite memory of Bob was him sitting at the turret, the control desk, of the television news department. It was minutes until we went on the air with our evening news hour- those are hurried, nervous, frantic moments. The floor crew in the studio, the director, producers and control room staff, the anchors and reporting teams are all in the last minute of preparation and script editing. Engineers and field technicians are tuning in microwave mobile or satellite truck units. All are in waiting and anxious. 

        Just around the corner from the horseshoe turret is "edit alley" where photographers and editors are in their spaces finishing the stories and one editor in particular is waiting for the Super Sneak script, he has to cut it. The Super Sneak was Bob's baby. It was the multi video, production sequence teasing the stories and reports that would air. It was a production razzle-dazzle that played immediately before the opening of the show. It was written as only Bob would create.

    As usual Bob was playing beat the deadline, cigarette dangling from his mouth, his tie lose at the neck, banging away on the old Olympia typewriter as he concocted what he considered the powerhouse lead, and it always had to have "pop."

    No computers yet, no digital editing, old fashioned script packs that split into 6 or 7 multi colored copies to be delivered appropriately and all of the recipients waited, watching the clock tick down to when it hit the air. Bob is furiously pounding the keys, clicking the roller bar up and back to read the "masterpiece" and tweak it until it satisfied him. At that point he'd slam the return handle, all the while chuckling, rip the script packet from the typewriter, hand it off to a production assistant, stand up, tighten his tie, pull another drag from the cigarette and walk back to his glassed in office to watch the hour about to begin. It was the stroll of an artist who had just cranked out another broadcast tool of "pop" laden prose. 


  Community Service Awards ceremony. Bob on the far right, Steve Starnes in the middle and this correspondent holding the plaque.

        Bob presided as News Director of WTHR, the NBC Indianapolis affiliate in the '80s and '90s. It was a great age for television news and it was a growth industry. Deregulation had not yet transformed broadcasting into a bean counter's and money manager's investment scheme. 

        Bob was rare, a news director who came out of the office and a continuous progression of meetings with consultants and management,  to "get his hands on the product." He loved the battle. News in those days was a battle. You fought the competition for every viewer minute. You wanted to be first with a story and as Bob said "be accurate, get it right!" He was a University of Missouri Broadcast Journalism graduate. At the time, University of Missouri, Northwestern's Medill School and Columbia University were the gold standards.

Steve Starnes, Tom, Ben Strout

        Bob did it right. I have a bias though. He turned the three of us loose and gave us months to investigate. Investigative journalism is costly, takes time and sometimes you hit a dry hole. Bob protected us from the change of general managers who were cost conscious and always worried about the trouble we were making and the time we spent with costly lawyers making sure we had it right and could defend our findings. We hit it hard, even sleeping under our desks, editing all night, traveling to dangerous or unsafe places, dealing with unsavory or defensive folks, politicians, judges, bureaucrats, cops, spies, fraudsters, racketeers, racists and a lot of others who did not want the facts to be know. Bob always had our back.

        Bob literally had my back. That glass wall behind me was his office in the newsroom when I was senior anchor as well as investigative reporter.
        "Gotta minute", we'd hear his gruff, voice barking from the office or as he passed us in his " no time to waste" manner. We used to impersonate how he'd draw from a cigarette while conversing. He kept the lights low, and the smoke created a kind of haze in his cave. 
        Despite being brusk, he had a good heart, cared for his staff and well being, loved the daily street fights, dressed like something from GQ. Bob had a flare for style. He floored us when a consultant was doing one of those tiresome exercises and asked us our favorite color. Most of the answers were standard. Bob said his choice was either taupe or teal! 
        He met the love of his life at the station, Marlene, from Sales. It was a second marriage for both. They ended up in the Northwest, and settled in Bellingham. Lana and I spent time with them after we moved to the west coast. Marlene's passing broke his heart. Bob continued to create clever turns of phrases and marketing ideas, cousins to the Super Sneak.
        Life ran out for him a few weeks ago. It took digging by some of us, his old colleagues and classmates to learn of his passing. He was always prompt at answering an email and we would often speak. But there was silence, no response and the voice mail box was full. We followed a lead, his silent computer. The news was not good. No more corny phrases, no more super sneaks. He is with Marlene. 
RIP Bob.  I appreciate how he always had my back.

        Mike Hanks is also gone. Most knew him as Buster Bodine, who could be the antic Bo Honey, Bo or Jim Foxglove on WNAP. He was a radio star, indeed a legend. He and his brother Chuck, have been in your ears more times than you realize. Blessed with extraordinary voices they were voice over talent. When "Chuck
Riley" passed Bo, had even more work to do. Commercials, teasers, films and narration projects gave him a good life, with his family in California.
        He was a racing fan and spent time traveling the circuit. He was a beloved colleague at WNAP and had a rare, irreverent but sweet kind of humor. The Jim Foxglove creation was an hilarious act on his daily radio program.
        In the age of disco, Buster would show up at shows where he was hired to be a DJ in coonskin, or skunk-skin cap. He could put on an elaborate act, but he was a kind and intelligent man. Always ready with some repartee. A few years ago I found an old T-shirt that came from the Bo Honey era of disco hops. It read " Buster Bodine and the Bo Honeys, Dance your pants off!"
        RIP Buster

        The news is, we are increasingly old news. And as the man (KV) said
"so it goes!"

        See you down the trail.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

The "Super Bloom"

The anticipated super bloom has begun.

California back roads are alive with extraordinary color and vitality.

If you can't make it to Shell Creek road or Highway 58, here's your tour.


See you down the trail.