Before I wrote stories as a sports reporter, I worked at a TV news station in St. Louis. I was hired a “broadcast trainee”, which basically meant I was a paid intern. I learned that shortly after I was given my log-in information to access newscast scripts.
The password was “intern.”
My expectations built up by All the President’s Men and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days were dashed. But this was an entry-level job and in the journalism industry — you take what you can get.
And I was happy to take that job because it was a real job in the industry with a respectable and trusted news station. It also meant I didn’t have to work at a car dealership anymore, so there was added incentive.
Of course, since I am a big, stupid moron, I almost screwed the job interview up because I submitted the wrong resume.
I didn’t realize it until the very end of the interview. Before then, I thought I was nailing it. Then my interviewer — who would become my boss — asked me to explain why I was a “social media expert,” as it was listed right at the top of my skills section.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I calmy screamed into my big, dumb, empty head.
I realized then the resume I submitted was one of my rough drafts from my professional development class in college. The one my professor told me to change.
“Okay, you might want to rethink the whole, ‘social media expert’ line here in your Skills section,” she said during class. “It kind of oversells your experience with social media. I wouldn’t exactly call you an expert.”
“Will do,” said Tim, who definitely did not do.
Now, I couldn’t admit that I submitted the wrong resume because that would be foolish. Instead, I did the smart thing and doubled-down. I told him I was experienced in several platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and…..
“Oh, damn. It was on the tip of my tongue. The one that….um…it’s the live streaming one.”
“Right. Ah, I was just about to say Periscope.”
No, I wasn’t. He could have said, “Jell-O,” and I wouldn’t have questioned it. As I write this story, I literally had to Google “live stream apps” because, three years later, I still couldn’t remember the name Periscope because the only people who use Periscope are wack packers from the Howard Stern show.
I was hired nearly a week later because I was very lucky and my boss, apparently, was very desperate.
On paper, my job sucked. I came in at 3 a.m. on weekdays and weekends, ran scripts to producers and anchors four-to-five times a day, ran teleprompter for three-to-four hours a day and loaded all the printers with paper. Then, when all that was done I got to write about all the fascinating things about St. Louis which was almost always crime.
If it wasn’t a car accident or some new animal at the zoo, then it was crime.
Answering the phones was always fun because it was like a game — would the person on the other line be normal or insane? It was a 50-50 split. If it wasn’t a media rep for the fire or police department, it was someone getting WAY too pissed off that we cut out of the Price of Right to air breaking news.
“What the hell? Where is the Price is Right?”
“We have breaking news going on in downto—
“I don’t care. Get it back on. Why would you change the programming?”
“I don’t know if you knew this or not but we’re a local news station so when there’s news going on we usually broadcast it.”
“Let me talk to the president.”
“Of what, the station?”
“Of CBS! Get me through to someone at CBS!”
“Sure, one second.”
— CLICK —
The only task I hated was loading the printer paper.
Not loading the actual printers (which I also did!), but the carrying and unloading of dozens and dozens of reams of paper. Every month or so, the paper reams would be delivered in boxes that I had to load on a dolly and unload to the newsroom. Each box was about 40 pounds.
The news station had two or three other broadcast trainees, but I always had to do it because I had the nerve to work out and build a beautiful, muscular body. I hated that job so much. Not because of the work itself, but because it meant I had to pretend I wasn’t profusely sweating for 20 minutes.
I’m not sweating, I just have to itch both sides of my head with my arms every 15 seconds.
That’s not sweat on my shirt, that’s just coffee I spilled in a circle around my neck.
My face isn’t red, it’s just from the sunburn I got walking in here, you know how that January sunlight can be.
When I finished unloading the paper, I would take the boxes outside to the dumpster in the alley behind the news station and just cool off outside. Sometimes, it would be 25 degrees and I’d be outside sweating in a T-shirt, checking my phone for 10 minutes.
More often than not, someone would ask where I went for so long after loading the paper and I would always tell them I was in the bathroom.
“Oh,” a coworker says, putting their head down and getting right back to work. No one questions a 10-minute bathroom break because that means ya boy just took a dump.
Reading is bad enough, but reading 1,000-plus words is awful. So, I decided to save my most memorable story from my TV news days for later (a few days or so). Here’s a preview:
There are few things I will take sitting down. Having a seasoned anchorwoman get pissed off and slightly berate me just so happens to be one of those things.