Breaking & Entering For Television Purposes

Posted by admin - 19/11/10 at 03:11 am

(Note: This blog originally ran in November, 2008. I no longer work in TV, and I have more hair now. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.)

A large part of my job as a television schmuck is doing nothing.

That sounds bad. And lazy. And not at all high-paying. Luckily, it’s only one of those things.

In my duties as half of the World’s Best Sports Department(tm), we cover about six thousand square miles of East Texas on a daily basis. On any given day, I could be driving for over an hour in any direction, then turning around and heading back the other way to get my stories turned for the news. Simply put, I spend a large amount of time just trying to get somewhere and then getting back.

To make matters even less productive, a lot of the time when I get to my destination I have to wait for some kind of practice to be over, or for some game to start. Since I’m travelling constantly, it seems like I’m always either late to arrive or ridiculously early. My days seem to be filled with large periods of either panic or idle daydreaming.

I went to Longview, Texas yesterday as one of my stops. It was in the middle of a 150 mile three-story day for me. Longview was my middle stop. We wanted to feature them since their football team is in the playoffs and loaded like a nice baked potato. I made my first stop in the morning a half hour south of town, then turned and went north almost 60 miles to get to Longview for their noon practice.

So I am, in the colloquial sense, hauling ass to get there so I don’t miss the practice. This duty is made more difficult by my vehicle, the venerable sports Van of Death(tm). The VoD is decked out with NASCAR-style logos which make it painfully obvious to anyone and everyone when you’re speeding, and which TV station to call and complain when you pass Ethel’s 1986 Oldsmobehemoth because she’s driving ten miles an hour under the speed limit and kickoff is in ten minutes.

Of course, the VoD also is possessed by an angry poltergeist and has tried to murder me on more than one occasion, so I’m not really cool with speeding anyway. The VoD and I have a working agreement now (I wash it once a month, it doesn’t make the brakes go out in traffic again), but I don’t want to push it.

Anyway, I arrive in Longview late for the practice, so I know I need to get down there in a hurry. They’re practicing on their main field at the stadium, which is a magnificent cathedral of football. It seats more than 9000, has a half-million dollar video replay board, and artificial turf.

It’s also locked.

Apparently if you don’t keep those stadiums locked up, people will sneak in and steal them and put them up in their back yards. Who knew?

I can hear the team working down below as I check the gates. This thing is sealed tighter than a correctional facility, and I’m just about to miss my story because I can’t get in. The back gate into the stadium is on the other side of the school and I’m sure by the time I get the gear back to the van and get around to the back side of the campus practice will be over and the players will have scattered.

Time is starting to get tight, and still I’m walking around the top bowl of the stadium looking for a weak point like Clint Eastwood in “Escape From Alcatraz.” Back up near the seating area, I find a spot where the wall is shoulder height. I knew then I only had one choice.

I took my camera and tripod and gently dropped them over the top of the wall, just to make sure the decision was out of my hands. There’s no going back once you’ve lobbed twenty grand worth of equipment out of your grasp.

So here I am, a 38 year-old professional, scaling a wall and breaking into a high school stadium in broad daylight. Mild scrapes and bruises aside, I got my interviews, limped back off to the VoD and headed on up the road to my next stop.

Remember kids, television isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes, there’s a bit of breaking and entering involved. Be prepared.

— Reid Kerr didn’t wear makeup for television. Or anything else, really.

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