by Holly Sweet
A group of women
get together on the last Sunday of the month in Tulsa. We consider
ourselves "creative" and want to network. Actually...in
reality we want to drink alcohol and eat food normally forbidden in
our daily diets.
They've been after me to meet at my house. "How can I do this and
live with the thought of turning down work?" I think to myself.
"You can do it." My other self replies, "People in the
media have lives all the time. I've read about them. They exist."
...... Work be damned! I'll do it!
The weekend approaches. No work has been turned down. My friend Amy
Bowers and her younger daughter will stay with me on Saturday night
as they travel from Albuquerque to New York and then I'll have 25 drunks
over early Sunday evening. Monday I'll celebrate Memorial Day by sticking
an American flag on my dog's tail. It'll be a perfect weekend.
After Amy leaves Sunday morning, I crawl back into bed for a little
nap. It's about 9:00 a.m. The phone rings. There's been an accident
on Interstate 40 (a barge hit a bridge on I-40, the bridge collapsed
and took several cars, a couple of semi's and a horse trailer with it)
and I need to get there pronto to run sound for ABC. Uh oh.
Eventually, by the time all 25 women have arrived and the pina colada
blender is going full force, there's been 26 calls. I know this because
of the miracle of caller ID and a phone that keeps a running tally.
I get to my hotel room for the GMA live shot at 12:30 a.m. Call time
is 3:45 a.m. in the lobby and we're wheels up at 3:50. Everybody is
wrecked, so I fit right in. The shot comes off flawlessly and the only
problem is that the sound gear is soaked. It's not my gear and it's
in a Porta Brace that doesn't even HAVE rain cover for the front pouch.
You know.... the part where you keep the receivers. And the lavaliere
mic's. And the transmitters not in use. All that "rainproof"
part of the sound gear in the rain. Lots and lots of rain.
It ends up being a weird week. Not bad weird. Just "weird"
weird. First off - it's one of those "let's put all the satellite
trucks in a parking lot together" things. Why? "So we can
get the pool tapes." I'm told. A pool tape looks like it's roughly
6" X 9". I've never measured. But it's small and pretty
light weight. A truck, on the other hand, is larger. We bring the
truck to the tape? I cannot ask this question because I'm a sound tech,
i.e., the bottom of the food chain. But I know this: When the control
room guys saw the live shot later in the day, and there was no river,
no bridge, no disaster in the background, they went apoplectic. "WHY
ARE WE SPENDING ALL THIS MONEY TO HAVE A LIVE SHOT WITH A CORN FIELD
IN THE BACKGROUND?"
I was curious also. But as bottom of the food chain... I said nothing.
The second weird thing was the degree of spin control conducted by the
small town police, the state troopers, the National Guard, the medical
examiners office, the NTSB and the disaster folks. There was little
or no information forthcoming. The designated PIA's were sing song
in their presentations and contemptuous of the media. And there were
repeated reports of members of the media being threatened with arrest
if they walked down a public street in the towns and vicinity of the
wreck. A print reporter from an Oklahoma City paper was handcuffed
and lived to tell in an article the next day.
By the third day into the disaster, the NTSB had not interviewed the
pilot of the tug boat pushing the barge. And no one could or would
explain the reasoning into this phenomenon, except to say that the pilot's
doctor and lawyer had refused access. The NTSB is used to this? I
don't know. I'm bottom of the food chain, as I mentioned before. But
I know this much because we're ALL together in a parking lot in the
middle of nowhere and a full mile from the disaster site and we all
have time to chat.
Life is good.
Holly Sweet is a freelance audio mixer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
She partnered for many years with her husband, the late Brian Sweet.
They were a film and video crew based in Oklahoma City for network news,
magazine shows and corporate clients. She now works independently. firstname.lastname@example.org