Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Some Days

I'm good at what I do...but there are days when I don't like doing it.

The radio industry has gone through a lot of changes in the 30 plus years I've been involved in it, and much of it has been an exciting ride.

Some days though it gets to me.

Amy and I have been having increasingly frequent conversations that perhaps it's time that I seek a new path. I don't know, there are exciting opportunities ahead perhaps and I'd like to think I could be a contributor to help maximize those.

But some days it gets to me.

It was a chaotic morning, exacerbated by computer glitches that made it doubly hard to do what I do, but I went through my usual routine of reading every newspaper in the state, calling contacts I've developed over the years at 2 a.m., seeking out information on events that had occurred overnight locally, editing, writing and re-writing stories assembled by our news team, etc.

During that process, I had a source mention something which I had heard nothing about. The other local media somehow missed it.

It was a very startling story, a lead story, a gut-wrenching story. I had some difficulty confirming facts. It took a while to piece together something I was certain was accurate, but I did.

This is what they pay me for, the ability to perhaps see things others have missed, know how to pursue those things at a time in the morning when there aren't a lot of folks available to talk to, and make sound judgments about the information's validity.

I have carte blanche. If I say a story airs, there is no one between me and 50,000 watts of radio power to stop me from airing it on the primary station where I've worked for more than 21 years.

"Why do people kill their children?" she asked me.

After I left the radio stations, I stopped at a client's office to help with a computer issue, involving a woman I mentioned in a post last month whose granddaughter was born into this world with unimaginable health problems and whose entire lifetime was spent in a swirl of medical miracles bathed in prayer. The woman was asking me the question knowing we were both thinking of a time only a few weeks ago when I hugged her at the graveside of that little girl who died at the age of two months.

I had no real answer of course.

Some days it gets to me.

The story I unraveled today was horrible. The bodies of two very small children were found decomposing under a house on San Antonio's southwest side. The "newsman" in me took over this morning and the story was on our radio station before it was in any other media. As the day wore on, news conferences were held, TV stations did bulletins, etc...but in truth, the story I had assembled in the pre-dawn hours had virtually all the facts of the case before there was any "official" confirmation.

I admit a certain bit of pride ran through me during the course of putting it all together - being first, being right. In a sense it was validation to me that I am in the right position, that I'm not being under utilized, that I'm worth what I'm paid.

That feeling didn't last long.
"I'm sure drugs, or some other demon is at the root of this story," I answered, "However I've fought many personal demons including drugs and I have no way of understanding how someone could do something so horrible. I suppose Satan works in mysterious ways too."

My words were of little comfort to her...or me.

When I got home all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and not think about events like those of this morning. I literally wrote the previous post from my laptop as I was about to shut my eyes and try to put this day behind me.

Then I checked my company email and was informed that one of the stations I anchor news for, which has made innumerable changes to their news product in the past weeks and months, was making another. They want to further de-emphasize my role. Ironically, at one time I was asked to leave the news department entirely for this one station so they could have me on air more, but people higher in the food chain refused to let me leave my news duties.

In radio time, with all the changes and the lack of continuity among decision makers, that is now seemingly eons ago.

The email informed me that now I'm going to be squished into 40 pre-recorded seconds per hour, under the edict that I not report any stories that involve anything bad, or might be conceived by anyone as bad. The 40 informative seconds should be headlines that appeal to children and their mothers, which under almost no circumstance should include information about unhappy events.

I'll do it.

My pay stays the same, at least for now, so in that regard I suppose I should be happy.

I'm not though.

Some days it gets to me.

I suspect before long that station's new primary decision maker - who has never actually spoken to me directly - will decide the station needs yet another new direction, most likely one with a young female voice.

They'll want "news" from someone who doesn't get up at 1 a.m. and spend the early morning hours ferreting out information, making hard decisions, and taking pride in making the right ones.

I can see it coming.

That person will be someone who hasn't had a day when it gets to them.

Maybe it will be that day when it stops getting to me too.