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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Back from Manchester...

So, New Hampshire was a blast. At times grueling, at times exciting, at times boring, at times snowy, and even at times fun. Manchester is an interesting town. You can drive across it in about 10 minutes. It has a rather quaint downtown and a gorgeous wide river flowing through it, its shores dotted by old mills repurposed as various cafés, condos, university buildings and so forth. But where I was staying near the airport, and near the Mall of New Hampshire, seemed like it could have been any town.

Turns out the reason they threw me a curve ball by asking me to go up sooner than they originally had was so I could help with two separate town hall events that they had planned last minute.  The first was with Sanders and Clinton and the second was with Donald Trump. All in all the trip was quite enriching and I learned a lot, getting my feet wet doing audio out in the field for the first time in ages. The veteran tech guys were superb at their job and incredibly helpful. And most importantly, everyone treated each other like professionals. As soon as I realized that, it was a lot easier to do my job.

The first morning they had scheduled me to mix audio for New Day which I talked about in my last entry.  The night before, right after I landed, and before I even checked into my hotel, I went over to a café by the water, called Waterworks, where they had started setting everything up. Camera, lighting, audio. Everything cabled through an open window out to a satellite truck outside. It was incredible what they had done with only a few hours. And they wanted me to help set up the board! I only really needed a few minutes to wrap my head around what I was doing but it was intimidating at first. This is where it gets a little technical so if you're not inclined, skip past this part.

Basically, they wanted to isolate the two hosts and the guest mix so that they could mix back in New York. So I was still mixing the guests, just sending that mix out separate from the two hosts who were on the first two channels. Then they were taking those three separate mixes and sending them out the outputs of the cameras, which themselves were on their own incoming lines in New York. But of course, someone changed their mind and wanted to embed the audio after the camera in the signal chain. Which we tried but then realized we had a problem with one of the embedders and had to quickly switch everything back.

I took a look at the board and thought for a minute and then scrambled to unplug and replug cables to get everything set up the way that was going to work...and this minutes before the show was going to start, normally a time when I hate to be unplugging anything! The moment I realized that my setup had worked warranted a fist jab and a semi silent triumphant, "yes!" The rest of the show went fairly well considering I had put the guests on an Auxillary send output and needed to mix them with knobs instead of faders.

It was a heck of a way to start off my trip but it certainly boosted my confidence for the rest of the week. For both town hall debates I was really just helping pin microphones on guests and taping cables to the floor so no one would trip but it was great experience and a necessary role.

For the Clinton Sanders debate they had us set up in the balcony of the for Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett's shows and we had several quick swaps.  My coworkers in New York were watching the incoming lines and seeing everything going on between commercial breaks, congratulating me every time we pulled off a narrow swap. Often times Erin Burnett would be talking to one camera and I'd be just outside the frame prepping the next guest, pinning ear pieces and microphones and hiding wires. Oh and did I mention we were essentially on the front row of the mezzanine where there was really no railing and only a two and a half foot wall between us and the potential to pitch right off the balcony.  At one point, David Axelrod was using my shoulder to balance as he stepped down.

The following day was Donald Trump doing his town hall in a diner during which I hardly had any role except sitting in for the lighting guys and winding cables. We set up a three camera shoot with a fourth handheld camera and did everything live to tape, with some 40 diners and us, all in a tiny tiny space. I don't know how we did it but I saw it later on the air and it looked good.

That Friday was the snow day and I had no assignment but ended up hanging around the workspace they had set up at WMUR until I just decided I didn't want to get stuck there in case the snow got worse.  Well, it got worse and I almost wound up stuck at my hotel. But driving in the snow is something I can manage even though I never get to do it. I feel like I've read one or more articles like this recently anyway, which while not the same as practical experience, can keep all the more important points in the forefront of your mind. I also noticed this weird light on my dash in the Kia Soul I was driving flickering on and off while driving in the snow. So, I just Googled it out of curiosity and sure enough the car has built in stability control.

After the snow day, my last four days of work up there were at the station and I was again, mostly pinning mics. For the last two days I was basically both running the board and prepping guests for Early Start and New Day...which meant being there at 3am. Ugh. But somehow, I managed to get around and try out a few cool local spots.

The first place of note I went, Republic, was a cool Moroccan inspired joint with a fantastic wine list and amazing food. I came here a few times throughout the week as they were open for brunch and lunch and had great coffee (it was ok...I mean it was probably the best coffee I had all week considering I had been drinking diner coffee and preground mess out of stryofoam cups at the station mostly). I even ran into a few other journalists here and made some friends (one of them I ran into on two separate occasions). I swear the town population must double when all the news crews move in to cover the primary election.

I also tried a nice seafood restaurant, Hooked, where I ordered lobster and chatted with the bartender most of the night and narrowly avoided a political discussion with the owner of the restaurant who came over when someone mentioned the Donald Trump rally going on down the street at the Verizon Wireless Arena. I think everyone in every diner was talking about politics the whole week though.

The coolest place I tried though was the speakeasy everyone had been talking about, 8one5. It was on the second floor of what looked like a regular apartment building. I had to find out the password on Twitter and speak it into an intercom in an old timey phone booth, randomly wedged into a wall, after which said wall moved away and the hostess let me in. It was a Tuesday night and the place was virtually empty save for the bartenders and hostess, at first. But the cocktail menu was creative, as was the bartender who made me a few concoctions of his own.

So that was my final night and the following morning I awoke to snow but fortunately no airport delays.  After having breakfast at the Purple Finch Diner where I had found gluten free options earlier in the week, I trotted off to the airport, dropped off my car and headed in, where I ran into at least 6 old co workers of mine from NY1 who were all heading back on the same day. It's amazing how small the news business is sometimes.

Here are pics of the week.

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