How much time does a reporter or anchor get before he or she hits the air?


I guess it depends on the shop and the circumstances. I talked to Jamey Tucker who started his new gig as religion reporter at WKRN in Nashville. He was told to take the first couple of weeks to get to know the community, the religious leaders and the gear he would be using. Oh, don’t think he’s going to kick back and eat bon-bons. He told me he was ready to hit the ground running on his first day, but they told him not to worry about it. He plans to go shoot some stuff and get to know the system around the station. You need to check out his blog for details. His observations are interesting. It’s www.Jameytucker.blogspot.com

Most places I’ve worked (and I’ve worked at five TV stations) gave you a day to get through the paperwork and dragged you around to grip and grin with everybody. (It’s a good thing I was never tested on names from that first day because I would have failed miserably.) More on that in a minute.

When I first started work down on the river, I was told to be there about 8a.m. I was driving in from Germantown and had only been to the station once. I didn’t make the exit and found myself about to cross the bridge into Arkansas. I could see the station but couldn’t see how I was to get over the railroad tracks to get to it. I saw the correct exit sign a few minutes later and managed to get there about 15-minutes late. I was told to hurry and fill out the paperwork because they needed a live shot from me from West Memphis. I raced through the forms, and was sent out with Mike Suriani. I don’t think he was too pleased to be working with the new kid. The story focused on the new tornado sirens being installed one year after a deadly twister tore through the town. I knew no history on this story and was fortunate that Mike helped me through that day. My live shot at six was a “Sony sandwich” and it was okay and I turned a package for 10.

The next morning, I sat through the 30-minute morning show anchored by Steve Hayslip and Todd Demers. My turn at the anchor desk came the next day. We did shoot a promo for the morning show, which impressed me that the station was jumping on this new guy. Little did I know that was the last promo I would be involved in for six years!

Now, back to meeting everyone at the station on my first day. I have to admit; the faces and names, especially those folks in sales and administration on the 2nd floor were pretty much a blur.

About three weeks after I started work on the river, my wife had flown into to town so we could start looking for a house. We had stopped by Houston’s in East Memphis for lunch and were waiting for a table when this older guy walks up to me from the bar area where he had been waiting for a table. He said “You’re Joe Larkins, you do the morning show and report down at 3. You do good work.” I have to admit, I was impressed with the viewership the station had. Here I was, only three weeks in town, and this stranger walks up, calls me by name and tells me something like that. I turned to my wife to introduce her to this nice gentleman. He then identified himself as Frank Roberts, former GM who was now Broadcast Group President for New York Times. It seems I had actually met him on my first day at work but his face and name had gotten lost in the shuffle until then. So, if you’re a manager, don’t introduce the new employee to everyone on the first day. Save some for the second day too.

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