Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmasy Stories

There's always talk about making the Christmas feeling last the whole year long. That's how good the feeling is this time of year. Thoughts of goodwill and love. Families coming back together. A spirit of generosity flowing.

I had the honor and the pleasure of telling two stories that hopefully warm your heart, as they did mine.

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An anonymous donor gives dozens of bikes to local children in need. In ten years, he's given more than a thousand bikes. 

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An Oregon National Guardsman flew home on the 23rd. Coming home to his parents, wife, and two kids after five months in Qatar. I was there for the emotional homecoming at the airport. 

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Let's do our best to keep the best feelings with us through the rest of the year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas

I will be home for Christmas. The past two years have taught me a new, deeper appreciation for those words and that feeling.

In the past, Christmas meant four weeks off of school, spending just about all day at home, enjoying all the holiday cheer of Casa Navarro. Nowadays, it's work 5 days a week, no matter what week it is. And I'll get maybe 40 hours at home for the holiday. It's just not the same.

There's no place like home for the holidays, no matter how far away you roam.

I'll be heading home right after work on Friday. Spending Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day at home before driving back for work on Monday. I'm one of the very few lucky ones in the TV business who don't have to work, let alone travel home to be with my family. My friends who aren't so lucky will be missing their families in Chicago, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, and as far as Japan. I'm blessed that Christmas falls on a weekend, and that I'm only five and a half hours from the people that care about me most.

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Christmas is nothing without the songs. Here are a pair of originals, a fun(ny) rendition, and my all time favorite.

"Donde Está Santa Claus?"
What a great song. Oh so funny, oh so accented, olé!

"I Really Don't Want Much for Christmas"
It might be nice if what the season brings could last beyond just one silent night.

Homemade caroling:

"Silver Bells"
Probably my favorite Christmas song. It sounds quiet, warm, nostalgic, friendly, anticipatory, loving-- everything Christmas is. Maybe it's just the bells in the background.

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Friends and family have been sweet and sending me Christmas cars. I love it. They line my dresser.

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As I've gotten older, Christmas has become less about the gifts, and more about the feeling that lasts the whole season. It's less about the presents, and more about the presence.

Really, there's nothing that I want for Christmas. I've got about all the stuff that I need. What I want is what I don't get the rest of the year, time with my family. Spent laughing, talking, eating, drinking, and just enjoying each other.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to doing that Saturday and Sunday.

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Merry Christmas.
I hope the holiday fills your life with love, your heart with hope, and our world with peace.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Past Week's Stories

Let me bring you up to speed on what stories I've been doing over the past week or so.

A set of twins were arrested for setting up a "one stop shop" for drugs. Their home was around the corner from a school: http://kdrv.com/news/local/233322

Friday, a man poured gasoline on himself and intentionally lit himself on fire in a city park. Some people nearby put out the flames. After being flown to Portland's burn center, he passed away the next day: http://kdrv.com/news/local/233712

A newsroom is like a classroom when it comes to spreading disease. I've been battling a cold and got to include some of my own sickness in this story about seasonal illnesses: http://kdrv.com/news/local/233896

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Then there's this story. Remember the Criado family that was murdered in July, and the husband/father was arrested? I went to Bakersfield and covered the funeral. In that time, I developed a relationship with the victim's brother, Jesse. 

Last week, on Tuesday, the murder suspect was in court and the Judge, anxious to get the justice system wheels moving, entered a plea of "not guilty" when the defense asked for more time. I gave Jesse a call (he lives in Phoenix) and talked with him about his feelings in the months since July. 

Before dialing the number, my stomach was in knots, my heart racing. I hate having to talk to family of people who have died. I hate having to bring up horrible feelings. Even more, I hate doing it over the phone when impersonality is even higher.

Jesse picked up, saying "Hi Bryan," right off the bat. That calmed the nerves a bit. We talked for a little bit and then told him why I was calling. He said he would be happy to talk with me, but asked if we could do it the next day or later on in the evening. Deadlines loomed for me and I asked if he wouldn't mind doing it sooner than later. "You know what, for you, Bryan, yeah, I'll do that. You've treated us so great and got our message out there to the Medford community. Yeah, I'll do it."

We talked and he had the same message since Day 1: Forgiveness. Jesse is a man of strength, calm, and love. I'm inspired every time I get to talk to him. And I'm lucky to have met him.

Here's the story: http://kdrv.com/news/local/233458

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Tomorrow night, at 8:00, ABC will air one of my favorite short films: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Wanting to know more about the 30-minute cartoon, I did some reading about the movie and found a conversation with producer, Lee Mendelson.

He talks about an interview with Time magazine where the Peanuts characters make an appearance on the cover and stirs up interest from advertisers. That leads to the special we know and love today.

Once it was animated, voiced, and put together, Time got a sneak preview. Their review was much different from what the network thought of it.

Great, behind-the-scenes conversation here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Difficult Stories

I get emotionally invested in just about every story I do. It (hopefully) brings some passion to my storytelling and becomes more interesting for the viewers. But it can pose some problems when the stories are tough to handle. I've had a few of these stories lately.

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A few weeks ago, a 23 year old man was brutally murdered in an apparent random killing. A few days later, I talked with David Grubbs' friends about who he was.

A 19 year old girl from the Medford area was killed in a highway accident. I talked with some of Kiana's high school classmates and teachers about how she grew from a quiet freshman who was finding her place, to a strong senior helping others find their places.

Two horses were rescued from a home where they were being neglected. The horses hadn't had their hooves trimmed in two years. One couldn't stand and was 200 pounds underweight. I was there when the vet took x-rays and the farrier trimmed down the horses' hooves.

A disabled father who needed help getting around, died in a fire in his home last week. I talked with neighbors who knew him, his wife, and his two school age children.

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These stories grip my heart. I see people crying, their worlds torn apart. I play reporter, but also psychologist. And their feelings dominate as I listen through interviews, piece together the most emotional pieces, and write around them. Their words become mine.

It's draining to go through this.
But it's always an honor to be able to tell these stories. Hopefully, doing them justice, and making the viewers feel something. That's what it's all about.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


One of the best things about Medford and Southern Oregon is the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, skiing, rafting, lakes, mountains, rivers, trails. Just about anything you want to do outside, you can do here. In beautiful scenery.

There are days when I get the great opportunity to head out to these beautiful places for work. Get paid to go to Fish Lake? To drive to the summit of Mt. Ashland? I'm on board.

A few months ago (before the cold and snow) I did a story on one of the area's lakes was getting stocked with a few hundred hybrid species of fish. I got to work early, drove about an hour out to the lake, and enjoyed the peace, quiet, and serenity of Fish Lake. Then the Department of Fish and Wildlife showed up with a tank of Tiger Trout. It was excellent.

Just a few days later I got a call from a high school teacher who was taking 150 students to Mt. Ashland. The students were going to learn about both sides of the argument around expanding the ski area on Mt. A. Some say expanding would mean better ski runs for beginners. Others say it would destroy the watershed that brings water to Ashland and the rest of the Rogue Valley. The students got to see the expansion issue firsthand. I reported on the story, from the absolute summit of the mountain. 7000 feet up.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Two years ago this morning, Saint Mary's and the Bay Area woke up to a winter wonderland.

It's a once-in-a-generation sight: Snow in Gael land. The last time it happened was 1971.
Monday morning at 2am, I had snowball fights with friends, took pictures in the fluffy stuff, and eventually grabbed my video camera.

30 minutes of slow motion footage was edited down to a 3-minute music video pieced together at 4am. The computer worked it's magic overnight, I uploaded to youtube at 9am, posted a link online at 9:30, took a final, and two hours later had blown through campus like an avalanche. Staff, professors, friends had seen it and passed it on.

I got emails from dozens of people. People I hadn't heard from in years, some I'd never met. Newspapers posted it.

It's the most gratifying and humbling experience of my life.

What I'm most happy about is that today Gaels current and old, staff and students, classmates and strangers can watch the video and travel back in time to the cold, snowy morning before Finals. A time when magic was not only possible; it was real.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Olden Times and Ancient Rhymes

Christmas is a magical time of family, friends, tradition, memories. It's an annual trip through time.

In the small town of Jacksonville, just 15 minutes from Medford, Christmas looks like it did 150 years ago. Storefronts are preserved in the Old West fashion they were originally built. Holly and lights are hung above every window and door. Carolers in Victorian garb stroll the town, chestnuts are roasted and sold, carriages carry travelers through the town.

The festivities kick off with a Victorian Christmas parade on the first Friday of December. On Friday, I had a live shot overlooking the parade route in Jacksonville. It was a fun way to wrap up the work week and kick off the holiday season.

It was in the low 30s and my camera operator and I kept warm by running inside between the live shots. The fog rolled in, and created a cloud blanket. But the parade-goers kept warm with free apple cider and holiday cheer. It's a fun, classic Christmas event. And I'll be back to enjoy it a bit more on the weekend.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend: A Visual Essay

I didn't take pictures of everything I did on Thanksgiving weekend, but most of it. Here's a look at the wonderful weekend that was.

Christmas trees trucked from Oregon to California.

Shasta under cloud cover. Looks pretty neat during sunset.

Drivetime. Benicia Bridge.

Facebook headquarters. I "like" it.

Tailgating. Tables, Chairs, BBQ, Beer, Football, Family.

And half a dozen kinds of chips.


Kevin is smart.

Fully stocked.

Good times abound.

Tree and santa and Kevin.

Good form, kid.

Eldest and youngest Navarro.

Master of the flame.

Grillin' on the ground.

Smoke monster.

How to stay warm in the grove.

Rummer up to be our Christmas photo.

Hoover Tower. Not named for the vacuum cleaner guy.

First Row, Second Deck, between the Uprights. Navarro suite.

Crazy Cardinal fan.

If I wasn't a Stanford fan, I'd be an Irish fan.


Loco for Luck.

All right now.


Lots of Tebowing.


Casa Navarro at Christmas.

Free return by January 31st.


"Some of the decorations are creepy." -Dad

Where to, dog?

Milestone on drive back.

Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday

It's my first Thanksgiving spent away from home. I was working on Thursday so co-workers who have husbands and wives and kids and families could spend time with them. Also, so I could get holiday pay. But mostly the first.

However, I didn't have to completely give up the Thanksgiving feast. Our meteorologist, and local celebrity, Scott Lewis hosts an annual treat for NewsWatch 12ers: The Orphan Dinner. Anyone who is working or can't travel home can have a homecooked meal at Scott and his wife's house. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberries, pies, wine (I ate all but one of these. Which one was it?) It was fantastic to have the traditional dinner with friends and co-workers. I appreciated it, and I'm sure my family did, too.

But I had to stuff myself quickly before heading to work. It was just hours before Black Friday started and many were trying to get a head start on the savings. At Best Buy, camping out for 36 hours didn't mean they had to give up Thanksgiving dinner. Then I scrambled to get the first doorbusting deal-finders at Toys R Us. Then Black Friday began for real, at midnight at Best Buy. There were good samaritans warming up the masses with free coffee. And the mall saw one of it's busiest, buslting days of the year.

All those stories were shot, written, and edited between 4pm and 5am.
Then I went home. Exhausted. And sick.

I woke up Friday feeling far from 100%. It had been a long week. I was on call and was brought in for breaking news twice, staying awake for 24 straight hours and 22 straight hours. I called in sick on Friday.

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Though I had to work on Thanksgiving, I was thankful.
Thankful to have a solid job that I love.
Thankful to have a place to live, food to eat, and health.
Thankful to have a place to go when I'm 300 miles from home.
Thankful to have a corps of friends, near and far, with warm wishes.
Thankful to have a family that built me up to chase my dreams to another state.
Thankful to have a family that gives me the freedom to be away.
Thankful to have a family to come home to on the weekend.