Since returning from the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society annual meeting in Knoxville, TN I’ve been trying to find time to post some information on what went on there. But I have been swamped with work and have not been able to sit down and do a whole synopsis.
Then I realized that I don’t have to do it all in one sitting.
So today (while the old light table warms up) I’ll talk about last Thursday a bit and then leave the rest for later on.
On Thursday, October 24 my wife, Karin, and I headed out to Knoxville around 12:30 in the afternoon. Our intent was to get me to the Crowne Plaza before 3 PM, so that I could check in and connect with Charlie Daniel (editorial cartoonist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, not the musician) at 3:30.
Things went fine as we traveled West on I-40, and we pulled into the loading zone at CP right on time. With all the things I had to unload it was good the hotel had a doorman (not to be confused with any other DoorMan I might be associated with), and the fact that my leg was troubling me it was beyond helpful.
Karin had to return home to mind our cat, Sam. We’ve been rather cautious about him since our other cat, Callie, got eaten by coyotes back in late summer.
I got checked in and took time to refresh for just a minute before the knock on the door from the bellman who brought up my sundry bags. Then it was back down to the lobby to wait for Charlie, who drove us over to the studios of WBIR-TV (Channel 10, NBC affiliate for Knoxville). We were greeted by the receptionist and sent down a long hallway to “the green room” where we awaited our television interview.
Actually Charlie has been interviewed by the folks on “Live at Five at Four” many times previously. Therefore he was recognized by Beth Haynes as she walked through the green room–but it was getting close to broadcast time so she couldn’t stick around and chat much. (Just a hint here, Charlie seems to know EVERYONE in Knoxville, so this was just the first of many moments of him being recognized throughout the weekend–more on this later).
In just a few minutes we were greeted by the program’s producer, Lee Ann Bowman, who said–“Why don’t you come on in the studio? It’s boring out here!”
I have to admit that I was under the impression that we’d have to remain very quiet during our time on the set–but it doesn’t work that way any more. With newer microphone technology there was lots of noise on the set, and a good bit of bustle. The only rule we were given was “do not step on the yellow cords on the studio floor”. Actually they might have warned us not to step in front of the cameras, but guess they expected we’d know that.
Anyway, we were greeted by co-host Russell Biven, as soon as he and Beth had finished up their first segment and the cameras were turned toward the news desk, while the next segment was set up on the other side of the studio. We were escorted to some chairs–slightly out of the way–and awaited our turn in front of the cameras.
There was no set up. No instruction to speak of. Other than a brief e-mail and phone exchange earlier in the day (before I left home) wherein Lee Ann got permission to use some of my webpage images on screen during the interview I had not been coached.
A husband and wife preceded us, so it was possible for me to observe the process they went through. The two camera man team set them up with wireless mics as a local fireman demonstrated how to make “firehouse chili” over on the cooking set. Then Beth and Russell casually sauntered across the studio while the local weather update went out. They sat with the couple and interviewed them (although I didn’t feel nervous, I have to admit that I have no idea what they were talking about).
Then it was our turn. The interesting thing is that the program went back to the news items, while Charlie and I were strapped with wireless mics and welcomed by Beth and Russell again. They chatted with us as one would a guest in one’s home–then suddenly they turned to the cameras (again, as one would another guest) and announced what was going on to the TV audience, then turned to us and continued the conversation.
“Live at Five at Four” has been running for several years in the Knoxville market. As you might expect it began as “Live at Five” but then expanded to encompass two hours. I have no doubt this is at least partially due to the easy-going charisma of the two hosts. It really was as natural an interview as I’ve ever been involved in–or could hope to be involved in.
Our interview done, Charlie took me from WBIR over to the News-Sentinel building–which truly impressed me. An actual working newspaper in these days when so many papers are folding due to outside pressure. I don’t know what the News-Sentinel is doing right, but there is no doubt that they ARE doing something right. There were actual reporters in the newsroom writing actual stories (not just pulling stuff of the AP system). Charlie introduced a number of staff members and the editor–who were all very warm and friendly. Besides letting us know there would be coverage of our visit to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital the next day, the editor also told me to get everyone in our group to do a cartoon for Sunday’s edition, and that they’d hold a whole page for our efforts!
That portion of the day complete, Charlie arranged to meet his wife, Patsy, at a nearby grocery store and they took me to dinner at Calhoun’s on the River. A very nice restaurant, that we had considered for our group’s dinner–except it’s very noisy, and so not suited to conversation, at least not in a big group.
Had a great time talking to the Daniels, and also got to see the replicas of Pinta and Nina docked right next to the atrium of Calhoun’s! (Much smaller ships than you’d expect–and to think these are like those that crossed the Atlantic in 1492).
But I was tired, my leg was hurting and so “Charlie’s Taxi Service” (as it came to be known as the weekend went on) took me back to CP for a night’s rest.