Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week's Stories

It's been a good week. I came up with a couple of stories and developed them from just ideas to ready-for-broadcast stories. It's rewarding to be able to make that happen.

Monday brought a thunderstorm to Southern Oregon and Northern California. It came into the area right on the heels of record-breaking heat over the weekend. Was there a threat of early wildfires in the rugged wilderness? I talked with ODF and a half dozen people who were caught in the middle of Mother Nature's fireworks show.

Wednesday, I took a story from Washington DC to Medford. The Supreme Court heard arguments about the controversial Immigration Law out of Arizona. I couldn't be in the capital (obviously) so I localized the argument and talked to Rogue Valley folks on both sides of the issue. Real happy to be able to turn "white collar" stories like this one, rather than just chasing the scanner.

Thursday was a fantastic day. I played a victim in a firefighter training exercise. More tomorrow, but for now here's the story:

Friday was like a blast from the past. I was invited as a judge to South Medford HS's school-wide lip-sync contest. Loud music blaring, teenagers running around and dancing, teachers joining in on the fun. It was a great, great time. And, of course, it made the news.

All around, a real nice week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Losing Luck

It's a bittersweet day for the Cardinal. Saying goodbye to one of our best and most successful players who was part of a one-two punch that brought the Cardinal from laughingstock to powerhouse and national title contender.

He was a once-in-a-generation Cardinal QB. He and Jim Harbaugh made Stanford football fun again. Fun to watch and talk about and to root for.

He's a neck-beard sporting goober.
He's going to be a phenomenal NFL quarterback in Indianapolis.
And for a while he was ours.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Flight from Conversation

I'm guilty of this as anyone else. But it doesn't mean I like it.

"We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship."

Flight from Conversation in the NY Times.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Travelling Tumbler

There are few things that can make an adult feel as giddy as a kid. Cheering when your team rallies in late innings, seeing jets fly by at incredible speeds, and lightning and thunder creating Mother Earth's best fireworks show. I've got something else to add to that list: Seeing the Batmobile up close.

On Saturday four of us were driving from Medford down to Mt. Shasta for some skiing. We don't know the area incredibly well and got a bit turned around. We pulled off a few exits too early, realized it, then jumped back on the highway. A few hundred yards ahead of us we saw a semi hauling a long flatbed with something peculiar on the back. Four thick, huge tires and an exhaust pipe that looked like it belongs on a fighter jet.

"No. It can't be."

But it was and we knew it. The Batmobile was hitching a ride.

We started freaking out and speeding up. Everyone but Nick, who was driving, pulled out camera phones and started snapping pictures.

As we pulled up next to it, it was incredible. Like a tank made out of a hundred different pieces of armor. No doors. No headlights, obviously. No visible rocket launchers or machine guns, sadly.
It was a monster. And it was beautiful.

It was unbelievable, but it was real. The Warner Brothers logo was on the flatbed and on the truck cab.

As we passed the Batmobile (aka: The Tumbler) I looked up at the two men driving the truck. The driver (who looked like Survivor's Troyzan) and I made eye contact. Smiling from ear to ear, I gave him a thumbs up. And he gave one to me, too.

After the shock and glee started to fade we wondered was the Batmobile doing travelling South on I-5 in super Northern California? I had a theory that there were some pick-up scenes being in filmed in Vancouver where a lot of films and shows are produced. Turns out I was only a little bit right. It *was* in Vancouver, but as a feature in a Cancer fundraiser. What a great way to put an attraction with huge draw to use.

We joked that our day couldn't get any better. Skiing was pretty fantastic. But how often can you say that you saw the Batmobile? I'm still giddy just thinking about it.

Small Town and a Big Fix

Every third week I work the nightside schedule (2:30p-12a). It's quite an adjustment to change my sleeping schedule, morning and evening routine, and the work during those hours.

When I work nights my stories don't always make it to the website. Fortunately, my two favorites are online and I'd love to share them with you.

Park Priorities.
For a few weeks, I've been reporting on the million dollars coming to a troubled Medford park. A Portland firm was hired and brought in to gather ideas and feedback from park users and nearby business owners. I was there for the meeting where those people had their voices heard.

Big Honor for a Small Town.
Ashland was named the 18th Best Small Town by "Smithsonian Magazine" last week. The magazine based its decision on culture-- art galleries, theatre, museums, fine dining. Ashland is very happy to named to the select group and hopes the visitors flow on in.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last Chance SkiFest

There's no such thing as too much skiing. But there is such thing as too much sun.

It's the last weekend that the ski parks in our area are open and we took full advantage. A late start to winter and being busy in the early Spring meant that I've only had one session on the slopes this season. That's not enough.

So a group of four of us trekked two hours to Mt. Shasta for a little spring ski.

The sun was out and unrestricted by a cloudless blue sky. The snow was mushy and soft. It slowed down our rides and helped soften the falls.

The temperature topped out at 64˚ but it felt about 20 degrees warmer. We all wore several layers but ended up ditching them for short sleeves and bare arms.

We brought and spread on sunblock, but that was before we got going and worked up a sweat. Our faces and necks were protected, but our forearms did not survive intact.

(Can you tell I wore a watch?)

I've been applying refrigerated Aloe Vera on the hour all evening and my arms feel like they're on fire, like Katniss.


We were wiped, sore, and singed. But we gathered for a group photo. I asked the closest person nearby, and perhaps I shouldn't have. He looked to be in his 70's and had no idea how to work the iPhone camera, and maybe hadn't even held one before I approached him.
What followed was a 3-minute instruction session on how the iPhone worked, how to hold it, which side was front and which was big. After he learned, he tried taking the group picture, but wasn't sure that he had taken any. Well, he did. Here are some of notable shots he snapped.

(Sarah, Jessica, Nick, Me)

Despite the sunburns and the tumbles, it was a fantastic day. But this wasn't even the best part. Check back on Monday when I'll tell you about our run-in with the most fantastic freight that was shipped on Interstate 5 this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pear Blossom Parade

To every job there are perks and drawbacks. Those that come with being on local TV news are any better or worse. But they are more exotic.

Saturday was Medford's citywide fair: The Pear Blossom Festival. As with many of these Americana events across the country, the featured event is a parade down main street (or in our case: Central, then turning on to Main St.).

NewsWatch 12 walked in the parade and that included me.

Early in the morning, we lined up with our live truck and one of our news cars. About a dozen or so co-workers were there, and some brought their kids or dogs.

We marched the two-mile length, waving to tens of thousands of people, families, kids. Handing out candy, waving, and saying thank you. A smile plastered on. A justified smile.

Here's what I liked: it's certainly a self-esteem boost to have people say, "We watch you all the time!" "You're our favorite news show!" and "We love you, NewsWatch 12!" I think every person who works should get that kind of absurd, affirmative feedback. It's insanely gratifying. (Think about it. One day a year, you get to march down the heart of the city where you work and people you don't know thank you for the work that typically feels unnoticed or unappreciated. People would cheer out, "You run great meetings!" "You're so prompt with your email responses!" "I love how you solicit feedback from your co-workers!" Don't tell me that's not a great idea.)

Here's what I didn't like: Strangers shouting, "Hey! Bryan Navarro!" There weren't many of them, maybe two or three, but it was enough to unnerve me a bit. What do you do when strangers call out your name? My answer is to blush, smile wide, and say "Hey-y-y" awkwardly. Maybe I point at them in acknowledgement.

I get it, people recognize me because I'm on TV. But I'm only on for 20 or so seconds each broadcast. A drop in the bucket to the 12-ish minutes of facetime each anchor gets. While it is flattering, it's uncomfortable. I didn't go into this profession to be identified. I did it because I love telling stories.

My solution, draw attention away from me by relying what brought on that attention in the first place. I hide behind the video camera.

During a majority of the parade, I shot video. Instead of looking on to the crowds, I looked through the eyepiece. Rather than be the excitement, I did what I love doing best-- captured that excitement.

In my mind, shooting something can turn an unpleasant situation into a fairly good one.

Our wonderful production crew edited the 15 minutes of raw video into a cute, fun 1:30 piece and posted it here.
Again, I don't mind walking in the parade and seeing people who appreciate our work. I'm proud of that. But I sometimes feel uneasy when I'm approached because of it.

What does it all mean? I don't know. Or maybe I don't want to know.
So I think I'll just keep rolling tape.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Family Weekend

Easter weekend was a great one this year. I took Monday off for a 3-day weekend, took leisurely time in some beautiful areas in the Rogue Valley, ate out for dinner every night. Oh yeah, my family came into town.

Dad, Mom, and Kevin came to Southern Oregon for almost three full days of Medford mania. There were lots of laughs, tons of food, and a bit of nostalgia.

It started with a bit of a surprise visit Friday at 5pm where I was making my live report. My parents got there before I did and met my camera operator (and great friend) Julian. Then they watched us great ready and rehearse the live shot a few times. My story was first in the broadcast and we start our program about 20 seconds before 5 exactly. So, after I was live and did my report for real, my family thought that it was just another dry run. Little do they know, there's not much fanfare or hooplah surrounding my live shots. But it was great to have them there and show them the magic behind the scenes.
That night was a Mexican food night at Si Casa Flores. We said "gracias" to the waitress more than a few times.

Saturday brought adventures to some of the quaint, attractive towns surrounding Medford-- Jacksonville and Ashland. Mom did a lot of window shopping and real shopping. Dad did a lot of standing outside while Mom shopped. But the weather was perfect, pleasantly sunny but not hot at all. Perfect Spring.

Needing a place to watch the Sharks game that night we went to Joe's Sports Bar where we ate our body weight in nachos, fried mozzarella, and cheesesteaks.

Several plans were in play for Sunday, including the possibility of driving to Crater Lake. But it's two hours each way and this time of year, there's a 50-50 chance that clouds roll in over the caldera rim and hide the lake. With a halfway chance of not seeing bluest lake, we decided not to risk the four hour drive (especially with six-plus hours waiting the Navarros on Monday).

So we took a few field trips. One to the NewsWatch 12 station:

Another to a state park where you can access the Rogue River (it's just ten minutes from my apartment):
And the last one to Dollar Tree and 7-11:

Sunday dinner was at the legendary, Kaleidoscope. A pizza place we've never missed enjoying. No pictures at the table, too busy scarfing.

Monday meant saying goodbye at Black Bear Diner at the South Medford exit. Every time we eat there before the rest of the family heads home. And every time we say goodbye for a little bit, but always with an idea of when the next time we see each other will be.

I drove home alone, sad to say bye but still riding happy momentum from a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Montrue Wins

Last week I got the chance to profile Montrue Technologies. The company is one of four competing for an Angel Investment of $160,000. That day when I returned from the interview, I sat down at my desk next to Steven and remember telling him "Montrue is gonna win this thing."

I should've put money on it.

Yesterday, Montrue was named the big winner and got the oversized check.
I grabbed the CEO and founder for a post-win interview like Craig Sager, but not as colorfully dressed. I was hoping that elated victory face and feeling. I asked a couple of questions to try to elicit that response, but didn't get it. He even acknowledged, "You know, Bryan, I don't think I've got what you're looking for..." then went on to talk about how the business was hoping to win but had a plan to fundraise that amount even if it didn't. I told him, maybe it was this focus that won the investors over.

Montrue's leaders look poised for success despite whatever obstacles may get in their way. Anyone who wants to climb on board has the right idea.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Explosive Experiment

A car gets blown up and college kids get school credit.

Watch it here:

What a fun story. If every report I do could have explosions, I'd be a happy reporter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cranes and the Coast

Been a good week so far. Monday's story was fun and I enjoyed telling it. The trend kept going right on through the front half of the week.

Tuesday brought some big economic news to the Rogue Valley. One the area's biggest companies, Erickson Air Crane, is going to the biggest financial stage in America: Wall Street. The company designs and builds massive, heavy lift helicopters and is now publicly traded on NASDAQ. Legally, the company cannot make public statements, so I had to work in a completely roundabout way. It was tough, but I think the story turned out great.

Wednesday sent me to California. I profiled another business that could cash in on a $155,000 investment next week. Eco Vision creates sustainable, biodegradable packaging for body care products. The founder started with organic lip balm and body creams, but when the tubes and jars didn't match the sustainable stuff inside, he knew he had to make change. He's the first to make the packaging out of paper, and other companies are buying his packaging. It's a pretty innovative idea that may be catching on in the next few years.
While I was at Crescent City, I stopped by the beach to get video (and took a few moments of zen for myself.) I sent the video back and it was used as the introduction to the long weather hit at 6:00. Enjoy the sights and sounds:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Five Tips For Writing

I found an article with five tips for good writing. Not sure if C.S. Lewis wrote this list or if it was someone else, but I think it's spot on.

It's a class of writing I aim for everyday.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Montrue Technologies

About a year ago, I covered the story of a local start-up company that made some major achievements. Montrue Technologies has created an iPad app for ER doctors. I remember thinking that this business had a great idea and seemed to have the drive to parlay it into something excellent.

They appear to be on the right track. I covered them again Monday.

They are one of five companies in the running to be awarded a $155,000 investment from Southern Oregon angels (businessmen and women) looking to buy in to a great idea.

I think Montrue's got a great chance at winning the prize money next week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

SMC Indiana

"They have ten acres of destroyed woodland, but they consider themselves incredibly fortunate: all around them are the charred remains of their neighbors' homes, as the practice for the moment is to salvage whatever can be saved in a ruined house and then burn whatever is left to expedite the recovery process."

It might sound like a scene from a fictional post-apocalyptic story, but this is very real and hits close to home for me.

The professor who I travelled to New Orleans and Brazil with at Saint Mary's is continuing the disaster relief effort right now, in Southern Indiana. For more than a weeks, current students and alumni are driving and flying in from across the United States to be part of a recovery team doing speedy week in area laid waste by a swarm of tornadoes just weeks ago.

My friends are going on the trip and they're led by my favorite professor, Shawny Anderson.

Please follow their story for the next week or so at this blog: SMC Indiana

Be sure to get a glimpse into the past at why Shawny's led relief trips in the past, and why this one resonates more personally than any others before.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In the Groove to Move

Helped a buddy move yesterday. Julian had to get out of his two-story townhouse and move to an apartment across town. He got the U-Haul and got most of his and his girlfriend's stuff over earlier in the week, but needed some help with the big stuff.
That's where me and Chris came in. With bulging muscles.

We moved a bunch of cardboard boxes, a queen sized bed, a desk and handful of armchairs, and a washer and dryer.

Most of the stuff was pretty easy, but not the washer and dryer. They were heavy and big and horrible. If we didn't have an appliance dolly, we'd still be moving those things.
After an hour at the old place, we drove crosstown to the new place. Unloading everything took about the same amount of time and we fell into a bit of a move groove.

We were exhausted by the end of it all. Julian pointed to the bed and said, "I could eat a Hot Pocket that big."
We got a week's worth of exercise in a matter of two hours. Of course we needed to replenish all those calories.
Whitney, Julian's girlfriend, cooked us some delicious food and bought pizza. We ate both while watching the Kentucky/Louisville game, which started just ten minutes after we were all done. Perfect timing.

The two of them moved into a familiar apartment, it's right next to co-worker Sarah's. And it's the former home of now-departed, former-NewsWatch-12's Kristin Ketchell. Outside, Sarah and Jessica pretended to be little kids.

We were wiped and happy to be done with the lifting and lugging.
Sunday, I got this text from Julian: "I slept for 14 hours last night. Passed out at eight. So sore today."