Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving "Stuffing"

It's Thanksgiving weekend and that means one thing for local TV news stations.. well, 3 things.  You are sure to see a holiday travel story in the days before Thanksgiving.  There's a good chance one of our Reporters will stake out Memphis International for the day - or perhaps the Greyhound terminal.  There's always the option of getting man-on-the-street interviews at the gas station.  It's as predictable as the holiday itself.  Thanksgiving brings an abundance of opportunities to watch the needy eat their meals at homeless shelters, churches, or elsewhere.  I always feel badly for these people who can't really enjoy being videotaped while they receive a free meal.  Of course, the selfless act of many volunteers is often the focus of these stories.  The day after Thanksgiving is "Black Friday." Morning Reporters across the nation will join bargain hunters in big box store parking lots beginning at some ungodly hour.  Fortunately, I've only been assigned this story once in my career - in Columbus, GA circa 2001.  Sidebars to "Black Friday" include reminding people to hide their treasures in the trunk.  Happy holiday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tragic Figure Speaks from Jail

Wrong way crash suspect: "I don't remember anything" - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee
This is a story I covered for two days this week. It's about a counselor who works for Youth Villages in Memphis charged in a fatal wrong way crash on I-40. 25 year-old Kellie Isaac told me in a jailhouse interview that she drank too much Tuesday night after attending a Youth Villages conference downtown. She ended up in her car going westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-40. Police say she struck 48 year-old Sheila Ellard's truck just west of the new bridge in West Memphis. Ellard died on the scene. Isaac wishes her friends had taken her keys. Now two families are suffering. This interview was a big "get" during sweeps and helped Action News 5 at 10:00 win Thursday night..despite a deplorable NBC prime-time lead-in. A friend of Isaac's assisted greatly in getting the inmate on the phone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Millington's Mayor

Millington Mayor Richard Hodges will retire in January - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee
The attached report is from the night Millington Mayor Richard Hodges finally did what many constituents wanted..leave office. Hodges chose to call his departure a retirement rather than resignation and won't actually leave until January 13, 2012. Hodges was arrested weeks ago for allegedly using city resources to pay gambling debts to a local business owner. That followed an earlier TBI raid of his home and office. Rumors of Hodges' possible resignation led me to be assigned to virtually every Millington city council meeting since the raid. I, for one, am glad I might not have to go back any time soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Celebrity Sightings

Being a Reporter sometimes has its perks.  Although I'm by no means a celebrity hound, I have had the occasion to meet actors, singers, and others while they were in whatever town in which I was working at the time.  I recently picked up a quick interview with Huey Lewis for the 10:00 news.  It wasn't my primary story that day..just something to help fill the show.  I've always been somewhat of a fan of Lewis and his band.  I volunteered to go by the Stax Museum and conduct the interview.  Lewis' latest release was a compilation of music made famous by Stax artists.  He was a very gracious man..and shorter than I imagined.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Smackdown on Southaven's mayor

Southaven Mayor Greg Davis meets with auditors - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee
Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering took only minutes to inform Southaven Mayor Greg Davis Wednesday that he needs to repay the city more than $170,000. An investigation into the mayor's spending habits on the city's dime began in April. His travel expenses recently included a two-week trip to an upscale counseling center in Scottsdale, Arizona. A lot of us knew Davis was going to be ordered to pay some of the money back, but the amount was surprising. Davis said he was stunned by the amount. He called it a lesson learned and said receipts would be more detailed moving forward. However, he still has a travel budget and plans to use it. Wouldn't we all like to travel or buy clothes without having to pay for it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

That's No Bull

Deputies: Al Green's bulls roaming free in Shelby Forest - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee
Here's a link to a story I did on a number of bulls roaming free from property owned by Memphis music legend Al Green. The land is located in the rural Shelby Forest area north of the city. A neighbor used a camcorder to video the animals jumping a fence, standing in the road, and causing general concern for her children. The death a few years ago of a man who ran into a roaming horse increased her fears. The possible threat to public safety is why the Shelby County Sheriff's Office got involved. They're working with the Green family to try and corral the bulls. I eventually hooked Al's brother up with a family in N. Mississippi who specialize in returning livestock to where they belong..behind a fence.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heartbreaking

FedEx truck involved in fatal accident near Senatobia - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee
It's become alarmingly easy for me over the years to avoid emotion while covering tragic stories.  I believe it is a necessity when you cover so many.  The first day of sweeps this November brought one such story.  I was covering an MPD officer's arrest on drug charges when we got word that a FedEx truck rear-ended a Saturn on Highway 51 in Senatobia, MS.  I was dispatched to The MED (hospital) after my hit on Action News 5 at 4:00.  I waited..and waited..with hopes of finding a family member of two young sisters killed in the crash.  These assignments are never easy.  I eventually met an uncle of the girls and he took my card back into the hospital.  Two cousins later emerged, did interviews, and provided photos of the two girls -- ages 2 and 6.  We were the first station to air the photos.  It was a victory for us..but bittersweet considering the circumstances.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let the games begin

Today marks my first post on this blog and the beginning of November "sweeps" 2011.  TV advertising rates are determined during four sweeps periods per year.  November is arguably one of the two most important.  WMC/Action News 5 has traditionally been the dominant station in the Memphis market.  However, WREG is an extremely close competitor (particularly at 10:00) thanks to a strong CBS prime-time line-up.  This makes Memphis one of the most competitive markets in the country ratings-wise.  Sweeps periods usually bring giveaways, special reports that are endlessly teased, and much more tense work environment.  I look forward to chasing down as many breaking news opportunities as possible.