Amy Bowers TV Talk 
"Small Comforts and Stolen Moments"

Atrocities dominate the news. Genocide in Kosova, murder in Colorado, tornadoes, a bus wreck, espionage, torture and rape here in New Mexico. After watching Katie Couric offer her hand to the father of a dead athlete, I turned off the Today Show. One of my children was in her room getting ready for school. I gave her a hug and told her how much I love her. 

Pause, for a moment, on the High Lonesome to consider a few things of a lighter nature. 

The Magic of Television, Made with a Sugar Wrapper: Last month at Channel 41 we produced the commercials for Crown Royal, the promoters of prizefights carried by Univision. We digitized some fight footage, and added graphics on the Avid. We translated the script into Spanish and recorded it on one audio channel, and mixed natural sound on the other. We needed a logo for Wyndham Garden Hotel, the "Official Fight Headquarters." The client hadn't brought it. Pressed for time, we searched the Web without luck. Ron Bain, a former sales executive for CBS Sports, was in on the edit session. He gave us a sugar wrapper from the Wyndham. My boss, Jonathan, scanned it and cleaned it up in Photoshop, exported it to the Avid, and laid it into the commercial. "You'll get a Clio for this, Jonathan," Ron gleefully chortled. No, it was not Clio quality, but it would do, and the commercial would air on time, and look clean enough. 

Ron insisted we appreciate the greatness of our little department and the beauty of the tools we use. "The Magic of Television," he insisted, delighting in the cliché, "The magic of television, made with a sugar wrapper!" 
Rescue of the Wolf Dogs: In mid-April, America's Most Wanted profiled a 1.6 million- dollar Las Vegas coin vault robbery. Following a viewer's tip, two arrests were made a couple of days later, near Pie Town, New Mexico. 

I went as a field producer with the Dale Green/Cindy Barchus freelance crew the following weekend to do a "capture report" for Most Wanted. Two brothers, without prior criminal records, were arrested on a remote ranch they owned in New Mexico. I spoke with the brothers at length, in the tiny county jail, where Betty, the jailer, explained what good prisoners they'd been, as she fixed them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Terry, the older brother, told me he was worried about his dogs. He had seven wolf-hybrids on the ranch, and knew his wife would not be able to take care of them. Terry and his brother had waived extradition to Nevada, and the ranch would soon be abandoned. When his eyes filled with tears, I told Terry I would take a look at the dogs, and see what I could do. 

The next morning, we drove to the property to shoot the rest of our capture report. Dale and Cindy shot some video of the dogs, and we interviewed Terry's in-laws and the officer who investigated the suspects. There is no Animal Control in Catron County, where the dogs were kept, and no options for Terry's wife. 

Back in Albuquerque, I digitized a frame of video, and emailed it to a rescue ranch in New Mexico. I called several individuals and agencies, and eventually most of the animals were adopted. While journalists debated their rolls as observers and participants in Kosova and Colorado, my roll in my small assignment in New Mexico was to help these wolf-dogs. I had the resources, and decided to use them.  
Hey! My Kid Came to KLUZ-TV for Take Your Daughter to Work Day!: Immersed since birth in TV news, my daughter grew up thinking of TV stations as "feed points," experienced the blur of New Mexico scenery ("Mom, are those deer, or elk?" "Don't talk to me while I'm driving and talking on the cell phone!"), and watched me disappear up the highway as the pager beeped just before softball practice ("Dad will pick you up, rent a video, make dinner, I love you."). Last month, she spent a few hours at our studio, to see the fun part of TV. She learned to run the studio cameras, check mics, cue-up CDs, and checked out the hair & make-up facilities in the dressing room.  

The following week, Bonita Ulibarri, one of our anchors, announced that she is pregnant after a two-year fertility quest. She plans on thrilling us with gestation stories for the next eight months. 
GI Bill for Teachers: I solved the problem of "School Teacher Burnout" all by myself, and pitched my plan to Gary Johnson, the governor of New Mexico, while he visited our studio to sell his school voucher plan. Following his interview, I suggested that we have something like a GI Bill for teachers. After someone teaches in our public schools for 10 years, they should qualify for free or subsidized education in an "unrelated field" while they continue to teach. Five or six years later, when they begin to burn out, they will be ready to leave the teaching profession for their new field, and quit inflicting themselves on our children. I don't know whether the governor will endorse this as legislation, but maybe he'll give it some thought. I wonder whether this kind of access to the governor is considered the power of the fourth estate. 

It's spring in New Mexico, we are halfway through sweeps, and TV is loaded with news, horrors and season finales. 1999 continues, after this pause.  

Amy Bowers
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