When covering the West Coast, we spend a lot of time in larger states, like California, Colorado and Washington. But over the past couple weeks, I spent time shooting stories in two of the smaller states in our coverage area: Idaho and Montana.
In Montana, we visited a small town — population 1800 — that can’t seem to catch a break. A flood in 2011, then a fire in 2012, followed by another flood this week. And the flooding risk is expected to linger into Spring. The photo above shows a well-traveled road submerged in water. The pictures below show crews sculpting a temporary road after the original path was washed away by floodwaters this week, plus the damage caused to another road that was just rebuilt after the 2011 flood.
In Idaho, a state famous for potatoes, we turned our attention to guns. State lawmakers voted to allow guns on college campuses, despite objections from the leaders of all eight public colleges in the state. The issue received national attention after a biology professor penned a satirical letter, which was published in the New York Times. The provocative title, “When may I shoot a student?” helped to focus more attention on the issue, but in the end, state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure, saying Second Amendment rights should not end at campus borders.
I had the honor of meeting legendary film composer John Williams, who was an absolute pleasure to interview. He composed the now-iconic “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” for the 1984 Summer Games in L.A., never imagining the piece would endure for 30 years.
My favorite part of our story was digging into the music with “The Maestro.” He spells out what he was picturing during each part of the piece. We had fun bringing the images that were in his mind to life through our story.
With the Olympics in Russia, a litany of snowstorms in the Eastern U.S. and now civil unrest overseas, it has been a quiet couple weeks in the West Coast bureau. Quiet enough for me to finally clean out my e-mailbox, which was bursting at its virtual seams thanks to six months of neglect.
I’m using the down time to wrap up a couple cool stories, which should be airing in the next week or so. And to prepare for our impending Oscars coverage.
In the meantime, I wrapped up my final writing composite for the Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. My former station KING-TV is kind enough to enter my work one more time.
This year’s Super Bowl will definitely go down as my favorite. First of all, the Seahawks won, which brought a huge smile to my face. Seattle, after all, has been deemed one of the most miserable sports cities in America — thanks to below-average teams and the heartbreaking absence of an NBA team — so they were due. Plus, I lived in Seattle for three years and greatly respected the loyalty of the fans.
I also got to do some fun Super Bowl stories — even though I didn’t actually go East to New Jersey. We had a TODAY Show pep rally for the Seahawks, where hundreds turned out at 2 a.m. to cheer for their team in front of a national audience.
We went behind the scenes of this year’s most popular Super Bowl ad: Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.”
We profiled an inspirational Seahawk.
And we took a look at the fact this year’s Super Bowl featured teams from the two states that approved recreational marijuana.
I had the pleasure of meeting Flora Belle Reece, who was part of the pioneering WASP — Women Air Force Service Pilots — the first female military pilots in U.S. history. Flora Belle, now 89 years old, still remembers nearly every detail of her service between 1942 and 1944. During our interview she recalled many stories about her experience in vivid detail. When I’m her age, I can only hope my memory is half as good and my legacy is half as memorable.
I was pleasantly surprised when I learned I was covering “The Voice” season 5 finale, which meant interviewing celebrities on the red carpet following the show. But the ultimate surprise came at the end of my interview with Blake Shelton, when he hugged me, then planted a couple quick smooches on my cheek. Why? We were discussing a video that aired during the show, which poked fun at his dancing skills. He pretended to act insulted that I didn’t think he could really dance, then felt the compelled to apologize with a show of affection.
As embarrassing as it felt, I looked at my producer and asked, “We have to put that in the story, don’t we?”
Without saying a word, he simply nodded yes in a way that clearly meant, “Duh!”
You’ll have to stay tuned until the end of the video clip to see what happens, along with the anchors’ reactions.
Of all the stories I’ve done in nearly 15 years of reporting, perhaps no story made my relatives more jealous than this one. Not only did I get to meet a Beatle, but I got to see a pretty cool reunion that was nearly 50 years in the making.
Of course, a few folks asked if I could get them a Ringo autograph. I usually don’t feel comfortable asking interview subjects for autographs, and in this situation, there was just no appropriate opportunity. Plus, I’m not totally sure how Ringo responds to autograph requests after his video announcement a few years ago.