It’s So Cold in Memphis………………

It’s so cold in Memphis…How cold is it? It is so cold in Memphis, in Midtown a flasher came up to me and described himself!!!. (Rimshot) Goodnight folks, try the veal, it’s the chef’s favorite!
Seriously, it was a cold winter like this in 1989 and I was filling in on the morning show (my regular gig at the time was anchoring weekend nights and reporting during the week). I had finished the Morning show and was helping work on the Noon show. The reporters (those not off work trying to burn up vacation time before the end of the year) were all working on cold weather stories. We were short-staffed because of those taking vacation time and we got a call that Mary Beth Conley was sick and would not be in. That normally wouldn’t be a problem except that Jerry Tate was on vacation and she had been anchoring solo. All other warm bodies around the newsroom had been pressed into service in some capacity. So the EP told me that I would be anchoring the 6 and 10. He didn’t ask, but told me I would do this. He was never known for his people skills. My wife had just told me that she had heard a loud noise from under the house and that she thought she heard running water. I told the folks I would anchor the shows but that I had to go home and check my house and also shave again for the night-side shows since my 5 o’clock shadow would be heavy by then. So I went home after the Noon show, pulled on a pair of coveralls and crawled under the house looking for water leaks or busted pipes. I found neither one which helped to make my day. I then cleaned up and drove back to work where I anchored the six and ten. I later told folks that on that day if your TV was on 3, so was I. It was a long day. On top of that, I had to anchor the morning show the next day as well.
I haven’t seen any of the local newscasts this morning and probably won’t catch any of them later today either but I will bet that I will see some stories about the following: Car repair shops dealing with dead batteries, and busted water hoses and vehicles that won’t start because of the cold, sales of heaters and other devices to stay warm, what the zoo does to help the animals stay warm and how the polar bears and penguins love this weather, and perhaps a story on how the local shelters are helping the homeless and crowded these facilities are. The last story might be an iffy one if other NDs around the city follow the mantra of a former ND DOTR. I suggested a story about the homeless once and he turned to me and said “the homeless don’t have (ratings) meters, I don’t care about them and we won’t be doing stories on them or about them”. Wow! It wasn’t the last time I would hear that in the newsroom either. So much for compassion for your fellow man.
And speaking of which, I just wanted to share this tidbit. I was walking into the Home Depot in Midtown a couple of days ago to get some stuff to keep the outside faucets at stately LarkSmith Manor from freezing and was just inside the door when an older woman stopped me and asked me if I was Joe Larkins. First, I was quite flattered that she got the name right. Yes, some folks still get me confused with that other Joe in local television news. She told me that I had covered a murder story in 1994 in Midtown Memphis and it was her sister’s son who had been killed. She told me that I had interviewed her and that I had shown a great deal of compassion in dealing with the family. Apparently she had not been treated as we by the competition. She told me that I had taken the time to express my sorrow for the loss in the family and that it wasn’t just about getting the interview and leaving. I will be honest with you. I only vaguely remember the story and it was just one of the many crimes I covered as a general assignment reporter. I never liked covering shootings or murders as they always made me feel like a vulture waiting for my turn at the carcass. I also never developed a way to approach the family to ask for an interview and “Oh, by the way, if you have a photograph of the victim that would be nice too.” But how you treat the people you cover is remembered for a long time. I know I’ve had my moments out there and wasn’t always civil. But day in and day out, I tried to be nice.
I told the woman who stopped me that she had made my day and I thanked her for remembering me. I meant it too.

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2 Comments on “It’s So Cold in Memphis………………”

  1. AMNewsBoy Says:

    A quick scan of the online video shows that at least one of the stations has already done the classic winter morning live shot: don’t leave your car running out in the driveway.

  2. a.k.a. swiss beats Says:

    Joe, hello there. Theres a new blog in town and its a media only blog from a media guy… You should check it out and spread the word.

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