Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Rookie Mistakes"

It would do little to enhance my reputation as a sitcom writer were I to proffer for your perusal my original foray into sitcom writing, a forgettable spec script for Chico and the Man.

We all have to start somewhere, some of us concocting storylines for curmudgeonly bigots and their Latino assistants.  It therefore behooves me not to judge harshly the clearly neophyte newsreader whose performance I heard on the radio during our drive to our cabin in Michiana.  (This is the third and last of my “Michiana ‘Car Stories’” as they will someday be known, and taught in universities offering courses in “Blog Writing”, the professor extolling: 

“Three stories.  And he didn’t even get out of his car!”  

When I originally heard this radio newsreader effort, I was infuriated by its incompetence.  But more recently, I recalled my embarrassing efforts to make the character “Chico” sound authentically Mexican/Puerto Rican, and I second-thoughtedly relaxed my criticality.

I am unaware of the broadcast’s origin, but I imagine that the low-powered station we were listening to emanated from some nearby Northern-Indiana university – Valparaiso or Purdue (Calumet Campus)– and that the fledgling newsreader (and probably its news writer as well) was a student in its “Radio-Television” Department.  Or whatever they call it this century.

Fluttering in his mind may be aspirations of being the next Walter Cronkite or Brian Williams (without the lying) and this is his first step up the ladder of journalistic recognition.  Of course, with first steps, there are, understandably, inevitable missteps. 

Like these two. 

One, minor and forgivable.  The other… well, you be the judge.  (Along, of course, with myself.)

“Tomorrow’s temperature”, he authoritatively announced – “Eighty-eight miles an hour.”

Okay.  So he misspoke.  Or, if he had written the “copy”, he spoke accurately but, inexplicably, mis-wrote. 

“Tomorrow’s temperature – eighty-eight miles an hour”?  He could use that in his acceptance speech for the Peabody Award.”

But then there was this.

In the course of his newscast, the aspiring “Anchorman of Tomorrow” reported the story of a murder in the area, then adding,

“The victim is believed to be…(revealing his name) “… who has been reported missing for the last two days.  Official identification by the authorities, however, has yet to be determined.”

I’m telling you, if my hair had not been exhausted by Legionnaire’s Disease, it would have stood up on the back of my neck.  I could not believe what I was hearing!

The kid reveals the victim’s name before he is officially identified by the authorities?
Before they notify the family?  What if they were they were listening to the broadcast that morning?

“The victim is believed to be (revealing the name)…”

“Dad’s dead?”

“Official identification by the authorities, however, has yet to be determined.”

“Wait.  Maybe he isn’t.”

Taking into consideration it may his first time doing this, still, if I’m his teacher, that kid is definitely getting an “F.”

It’s like “Journalism – Rule One”:

“You do not mention the name of the murder victim until it is officially determined that it’s them.” 

I mean, I never took “Journalism”, but

Don’t you think?

I mean, my Chico and the Man was rubbish, but compared to that performance I heard on the radio, it could easily compete for an Emmy against Orange Is The New Black!

It’s still early.

Maybe he should reconsider his “major.”
One Comment About The Recent Emmy Awards:

The Emmy Awards broadcast strategy is disturbingly schizophrenic.  They award multiple Emmys to Olive Kitteridge, then offer commercials for “Burger King.” 

Generally speaking – and I am aware there are exceptions – the viewers of Olive Kitteridge do not eat at “Burger King.”  And the patrons of “Burger King” did not watch Olive Kitteridge.

A “mass audience” commercial for a “niche audience” demographic.

This is definitely a period of transition.


JED said...

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to make radio shows on my father's tape recorder. The newscasts were always fictitious and always included big accidents on the local roads. I remember one of them included the phrase, "twenty people were killed and fifteen people died." Sometimes I used the names of people I knew but mostly they were anonymous.

The radio station at our college let just about anyone read the news and pick the playlists for the music. We didn't have a radio/TV department nor a journalism department. But then again, the broadcast was done using the university's wiring system so you could only pick them up if you were in a room wired into the school's power system. Even then, it would be jarring to hear the name of someone you knew who might have died. Or maybe they were only killed.

YEKIMI said...

Well, assuming you were listening to the left side of the FM dial where most college stations reside and excluding the religious stations that are sometimes located down there...... It could have been WLPR, a public radio station that some college stations run or WBEW [public radio], WONU, Olivet Nazarene University,[Christian Contemporary], which could have a news dept., WBEZ; public radio or the really interesting ones, WHFH, Homewood-Flossmoor High School and WGVE, Lew Wallce High School. I could see them having atrociously bad news readers being as they could be junior high to high school age kids doing the reading.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I recall my first evening on arrival at Cornell in 1970, turning on the radio and hearing what appeared to be an ad for the "Cornell University bus service". The bus service did (and does) exist, but after the announcer, who I believe was either British or putting on the accent began talking about blood running red in the aisles, I began to believe that the ad, at least, was fictitious.


Jimmy said...

While taking care of my 88-yr. old mother recently, we were discussing Freddie Prinze for whatever reason. Which of course, led us to Chico/Man. I don't recall much about that show even tho I'm sure I watched it quite often. I thought Prinze was a terrific comic. Only 22 when he checked out.

But yes, said news reader put the Big X in Faux paus. Wonder how he even got the name. Surely, the police didn't give it to him.

Wendy, isn't Cornell known as the Big Red? Perhaps it was Olbermann trying to put a pre-ESPN spin on a bus ad?