After several years of searching, I finally stumbled upon one of the first pro audio jobs I ever did. Below is an aircheck tape from WCBD, 1986. I started there around ’84, and it took awhile for me to move up to the audio chair. And after I survived the “practical joke*” by the commercial switchers, I managed to hold onto the position for several years.
*The way it worked at Channel 2 (most stations, probably) is we’d have an on-air switcher in Master Control… his job was to make sure all the commercials aired according to the schedule. A few minutes before the newscast, we would ask for “control,” where the Production Dept would get audio and video control of the signal, and the little red On Air light on the console would illuminate, and I’d punch the audio on the ADM audio console, and Tim Coghill (Director) would switch the video on a Grass Valley video switcher in the booth next door. They would take back control during the commercial breaks, then throw it to us just before we went on.
I remember having meeting with the news director where he would ask “Why is the audio bad?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then one night in the middle of the newscast, I happened to notice that the little red light wasn’t on. I said in the intercom, “I don’t have control… why don’t I have control?” and the little red light suddenly blinked on.
What was happening was that Chuck (Mikell) and the other switcher (Earl, I think) thought it would be funny to take audio control and screw around with the volume. I was brand new, and it was all I could do to keep up with the script, so I never thought to look at the on-air light. I think Chuck got a few days off, and the mysterious complaints from the news director stopped.
Chuck was a lot less curt towards me after that, and we became good friends after I went to a reggae show downtown one night. I think I went either by myself, or maybe with Kyle Meadows… but at any rate I was practically the only white person in the place. Chuck was there, and found it hilarious ( “Oh, SHIT… skinny white sound guy diggin’ de reggae…”) he nicknamed me “Rasta” from then on.
Sadly, Big Chuck Mikell died of a heart attack when he was only 49.
I recently completed a shoot for CBS Sunday Morning in and around Athens and Decatur, Alabama. This is where Brittany Howard and Zac Cockrell grew up, and formed The Alabama Shakes in 2009. They have a new album coming out in a few weeks, and CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on them that will air April 19th.
Bar scene interview
Chris Conder and I shot at a couple of locations- first at the bar where they did their first show, and where their single “Hold On” was first performed. Then over to Brittney’s Dad’s place, where spent a lot of time playing in the creek, and where her dog and pet pig roamed the nearby farms. Third location was bassist Zac Cockrell’s house for another quick interview. A few scenics at their school nearby, then it was time to transfer files and wrap for the day… a pretty good shoot overall.
At Brittnay’s Dad’s place
Their new album, “Sound And Color” goes on sale April 21, 2015.
DP Chris Conder, Point Of View Productions shooting on his Sony F800
I just completed work on a story for NBC Nightly News about an organization called BamaCovered. Daniel Liss is a 25-year old recent graduate of Harvard who was, until recently, working in London as an investment banker. He and a friend Josh Carpenter were dismayed by the state of health care in Alabama and the amount of difficulty (and downright false information) people were receiving navigating the health exchanges to get insurance. So they started a foundation called BamaCovered. This is a group of volunteers, mostly college students, who are canvassing the community, trying to help people get health care coverage.
NBC Nightly News correspondent Peter Alexander with BamaCovered Organizer Josh Liss in Huntsville, AL
One of their success stories… a woman on a fixed income of $800 a month was told that insurance through the exchange would cost her $700 per month. With the help of Josh’s volunteers, she received a quote of $25 per month.
NBC Nightly News Producer Doug Adams and White House correspondent Peter Alexander flew into Huntsville, AL where DP Roger Herr (In Sight Out Productions) and I met up with them. We shot at several locations around Huntsville- a free health clinic downtown, Peter’s Barbershop, Big Spring Park downtown, and Huntsville radio station WEUP, Alabama’s first black-owned radio station.
It’s a great story that should air sometime late next week… don’t miss it!
UPDATE: Producer Doug Adams sent me a link to this story, which aired on the 30th… http://t.co/QFh8T9S5BK
Roger Herr on camera, Brian Gilbert location sound, Peter Alexander and Josh Liss. In the WEUP parking lot in Huntsville, AL. Photos by Doug Adams.