How NOT to Do a Morning Live Shot and the Man with the Controversial Fainting Goats has Died

The life of a morning TV news reporter is tough. IMHO these folks have the most thankless position ANYWHERE in the TV news organization. They are often abused, so to speak, by managers who want them to come in, be ready to hit the ground running with a live shot for the early morning news, keep things interesting for the viewers as they do multiple “live hits” and then try to turn a package for the noon or afternoon newscasts and still get out of the office on-time so they don’t incur any overtime. It’s a thankless job and I’ve seen so many morning reporters burn out quickly on that schedule. On top of everything else, if breaking news occurs during the morning, the morning reporter is often yanked off what he or she is working on and placed on that story which usually requires a live shot for noon and they STILL have to turn a package for the afternoon shows. That usually means a 12 hour day. Granted, not all morning show reporters are treated this way but it happens way too often.  So I saw on Tuesday’s Shoptalk how a reporter in L-A (the city not Lower Alabama) last Friday was doing a live shot on people lined up to buy the latest Apple I-Phone. Here is the initial clip and I cannot believe how condescending the reporter was.

He should have had his lights punched out and I’m surprised someone didn’t oblige him. To his credit, he did issue something of an apology Monday morning. Here it is.

IMHO if there is ever an example of what NOT to do or ask on a live shot, the first video is it.

Shifting gears, this past week, Babe Howard of Millington died after a long illness. At first glance, Mr. Howard appeared to be just another good ole boy from West Tennessee. He dressed in khaki work clothes and looked like any other blue (tan) collar worker. Just looking at him you would never suspect he was probably the wealthiest person in Millington or that part of Shelby and Tipton County. I first met Mr. Howard back in the early 90s when he was trying to drum up support for Millington’s Goat Festival.   Mr. Howard was a cheerleader for Millington and he was ready to attact attention any way he could.  One of the attractions at the Goat Days event was going to be “fainting goats” which Mr. Howard owned. Now for those who are not familiar with fainting goats, these goats, when startled, somehow become paralyzed and will fall over. They recover fairly quickly. Mr. Howard wanted to put his fainting goats on display. But some animal rights groups were protesting that it was cruel to have the goats on display like that. The matter actually created such an uproar that WREG dispatched a crew to see what the big deal was. I was the reporter, and Jeff Woods (now the host of WREG’s Outdoor show) was the videographer. This story proved to be yet another lesson on the fact that when videotaping animals and small children that neither will do what they were billed or intended to do. We couldn’t get the damn goats to faint! Oh, we finally got one or two to partially fall over when their back legs locked up but it wasn’t much more than that. We managed to cobble together enough video and put together a story but it was like pulling teeth. It seems to me that the fainting goats made their appearance at the Goat Days Festival but I’m not sure if they ever returned in following years. Working on that story was the only time I remember meeting with Mr. Howard. On other stories concerning the Millington Telephone Company , I ended up talking to other people with his organization. I would see Mr. Howard in later years and saw him about a year or so ago at the Oldtimer’s Restaurant which he owned in Millington. He would always speak. I don’t think we will see a man like Babe Howard again. He was part of a rare breed indeed.

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6 Comments on “How NOT to Do a Morning Live Shot and the Man with the Controversial Fainting Goats has Died”

  1. the tall tv guy Says:

    Joe, given your description of the early morning shift, if anyone deserves it, that guy in the video does!

    Yes, Mr. Babe Howard was one of a kind. We’re losing too many of these unique, supportive community leaders. I doubt their shoes will be filled, and we will suffer as a result.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    Mr. tall tv guy, we may have had this discussion in the past and I’m just suffering from Oldtimer’s but are you a Hilltopper by chance. I attended Western Kentucky University from 74 to 78 and I too used to watch the Nashville stations since at the time all we had was WBKO, the ABC affiliate with Clyde Payne at GM. His wife Kaye Payne, now Dr. Kaye Payne taught in the Speech and Theatre dept. Anyway, just curious about your time in BG.

  3. Doug Johnson Says:

    Would I be out of line if I said I wanted to marry the female co-anchor on KTLA’s morning show?

  4. joelarkins Says:

    She looks friendly. Do you want me to ask her for you and do you want to go ahead and get on her stalker list first?

  5. the tall tv guy Says:

    Yes, Joe, I was a Hilltopper from 77 to 78. Bowling Green was a nice college town. Would like to go back and visit the Corvette museum there.

  6. Doug Johnson Says:

    I can go on her list… I’m on several already.


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