Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the broadcaster who meant well

I arrive at Learfield at 5 am, ready to work, ready to be the sports guy. I get to my computer, ready to gather the news. I open Microsoft Word, ready to write my broadcasts. I have two, one minute broadcasts that I'm supposed to record by 6:15, and Bill informed me of the best strategy; get into the booth at 5:45 to record them, which obviously requires already written broadcasts to read. I get about three sentences in, and look down at the time. Oh no! 5:38! I had spent about 25 minutes just staring at the screen, my eyes still glazed with a heavy film of drowsiness and inexperience. I want to reach for the coffee machine so badly, but, alas, I've given up caffeine. I speed it up, and I get into the booth around 5:56, my heart racing.

I record my first broadcast for the Nebraska Radio Network flawlessly. I cut it up and mix it down (broadcasting lingo, you wouldn't understand). 6:05. I record my Missourinet broadcast, with a few hiccups, but it's serviceable. I cut it up and mix... something in my mind clicks. Oh no! At the beginning and end of my Nebraska broadcast I had recorded, "Good Morning, I'm Jon Allison with sports on the Missourinet!" I go back into the Nebraska broadcast and record the correct lead-in and out... 6:12. Okay, I can do this. I go back into the Missourinet broadcast and begin the cutting and mixing at the speed of light. Finished... 6:16! That's it. Too late. I'm finished. I'm done. One whole minute of dead air. I clench my teeth and my fists, and I curse as loud as anyone would curse in a sound-proof booth, over and over. and over. I leave the booth with my head down... but then I realize: I've got a one minute due by 7:15 and a two minute that goes out at 7:20. It's time to screw my head back on and get to work.

I write my broadcasts and get into the booth with plenty of time... flawless, really this time. I wait and listen from them on the radio. Everything's fine. sigh.

I later admit my 6:15 defeat to the other reporters. They take a second to respond, which proves that I really had fudged it. They proceed to tell me that 'it happens' and 'it's not a big deal', and that it's not dead air that went out; it's just the previous day's 6:15 that went out (which is only slightly better than dead air). I take comfort in the fact that the lead story is still the same: the Royals lose.

From then on, I never missed a broadcast. A couple of them went down to the minute, but when I got them in, it felt like... like... coming home. Unfortunately, I didn't get to bring in a brewskie to prove my manliness. Instead, in between my noon and afternoon broadcasts, I went home and napped.

Following is a video (because I can't figure out how to post an mp3 using blogger) of my first ever broadcast from my first week at Learfield back in January (have pity on me... it was 6 in the morning and I was so much younger then), followed by one of my broadcasts from this weekend. I think you'll enjoy the difference.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the fiduciary broadcaster

Part of my job as the intern is to write news stories for our website, the stories that don't make it out of the jam jar, no matter how much the reporters scrape. Just about every day the reporters will ask me to either write a story on my own, or convert a broadcasted story into a written story. For example, today I was asked to go cover the unveiling of these new road signs; I was one of two reporters there. I hope I don't sound bitter; I'm learning every day and I very much enjoy it, but this is just the reality of what I do. Sometimes, Bill Pollock, the sports broadcaster, asks me to do this as well. In fact, during my first week at Learfield, I shadowed Bill for a day, and he thought it would be a good idea for me to write and broadcast a story. Boy, was it bad. The broadcast sounded like it came from a tight-lipped sixth grader.

Last Friday, the news room boss, Scott Brandon, was chatting with Bill about Bill's approaching wedding anniversary. Bill was telling Scott that he was going to take his wife to Chicago for the weekend, and was hoping to take Friday and Monday off, but he couldn't find a replacement for those days (the news must go on). Scott looked over at me and said, "Why doesn't Jon do it?" Bill turned his head toward me, smiled a villainous smile, and agreed, "Yeah..." I shrugged my shoulders and put out my hands, palms up. "Sure."

I was trying to hold my smile back, but I don't think I did a very good job. It felt good that they had faith in me, and I was going to get to write sports stories, be the "sports guy" for a couple days. I could finally hide my femininity without remorse. I could order an entire pizza for myself, and eat it while enjoying a beer, right at work. I could probably even watch Jennifer Lopez's Flashdance music video on youtube, and not worry if anyone is looking over my shoulder. Hey, he's the sports guy; what do you expect? If I looked over at a male coworker's briefcase and noticed a copy of "Atonement" sticking out of one of its pockets, I could ridicule the guy... not like that's ever happened to me before or anything...

Monday rolled around, and Bill started to coach me on the particulars of being him, explaining how he utilizes "cuts" that he gets from our affiliates, and what times the broadcasts go out, and I finally realized... I was going to have to broadcast as well! I got nervous.

"So, I'm going to be doing the broadcasts, too, right?" I said coolly. I chose this route, instead of, "I'm doing the broadcasts?!?!" which would have been more accurate.

"Yup." He bit.

"So, I'll have to be here at 5:30 in the morning?" Bill gets in early.

"Well, I usually get here a little before 5," said Bill.

"You bastard." I didn't say that.

Eventually, my head prevailed and I got excited. I've been practicing my broadcasting for months, with only a couple of broadcasts to show for it. Granted, unless the Cardinals or Royals are playing, it'll be about University of Central Missouri softball, but I'm excited.

So, stay tuned, and if you're on the internet on Friday, or Monday, go to and click on the "Sports Report" link under "Missourinet Audio", and you'll hear my most recent broadcast. I'll have one done every hour in the early morning, and a couple in the afternoon.

By the way, I've decided this is how I'm going to go out. So, if you listen on Monday, I'm going to do it naked.


Right now I have two heroes:

and Peter Phillips

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

the moviegoer's war

I just watched Charlie Wilson's War and I loved it. While the film is supposedly extremely accurate, it is, none the less, a glorification film. You know how I know that? Because I want to be a Senator now. How cool would it be to use your political know-how to raise money to kill commies, while being drunk on scotch the entire time? But after I laid on the couch for about twenty minutes dreaming about political stardom, I came to the all important realization: it was just a movie. Don't get me wrong; I love a good glorification movie. I wanted to be a cop after LA Confidential, a man with no conscience after Wedding Crashers, a play-write after Finding Neverland, a woman after Pride & Prejudice, a genius after Good Will Hunting, a timecop after... Timecop. The grass is always greener, though, isn't it? I mean, come on, let's get real; think about what Jean Claude has to go through everyday as a time-traveling cop. How could you raise a family like that? How could your digestive system cope with all the different types of food? Most of ours can't even handle a trip to China; how about a trip to the 18th century? Didn't think so.

But this is a realization one usually must come to after watching a movie, be it a comedy, musical, or horror. Just a movie. I say 'usually' because there are certain movies for each of us that, after which, we choose to remain in. Most of us boys are still dancing atop the brightly lit staircase in the carbonite chamber on Cloud City, doing "impressive" back-flips and wielding our blue lightsabers (I can't believe 'carbonite' and lightsaber' have red squiggly lines underneath them; welcome to the nineties, spell check). Most girls are still soaring, tumbling, and freewheeling on a magic carpet ride over Agrabah, as they sing at the top of their lungs about being in love. Okay, boys too...

My point is that when we go see a movie, we are supposed to "suspend disbelief", and when the movie is over, we are supposed reclaim our faculties, and live reasonable existences. But do we really have to? I don't think so. Am I the only one that actually prayed to God that he would give me superpowers after watching Superman as a kid? Maybe, but I bet most of us are still living in the fantasy of some film we've seen in the past, and I think that's okay. If I want to be a Senator someday, after serving time as a Navy pilot (Top Gun), a mobster (Usual Suspects), and a husband (Father of the Bride, both parts), then that's my right!

So, raise whatever you got. Here's to living in a dreamworld!


To explain my prayer for superpowers: I remember it vividly. I was about 10, and I was sitting on the toilet. I remember thinking seriously about whether superheros existed, and, realizing that they didn't, I began to bargain with God. I told him that I would be a really humble superhero; I would be like those pro athletes who always give glory to God in the beginning of their post-game interviews (obviously, that's why God gave them their athletic powers). But I was greedy. I had so many superpowers in mind, I couldn't focus on just one; I just remember muttering solemnly, "God, give me a superpower." Unsure which one he might have given me, I stuck out my right hand, folded my middle two fingers into my palm, flexed my arm as hard as I could, and aimed at the wall. No web came out.
I remain a mere human to this day.


By the way, I'm not really engaged.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

keep austin weird

Greg and I decided to be adventurous and fly down to Austin, Texas last weekend, and visit two of my friends. When I say adventurous, I mean, for the hell of it. On the friend closeness scale (think of the two finger illustration), these two friends and I are probably still just touching, not exactly crossed yet (we're working on it); so, a flight down to see them wasn't a necessity. But I wanted to go; so, we went. Both of these friends are ladies, and both were under the impression I was really down there to see the other person (they don't know each other), which I was fine with. Greg was the really adventurous one; he didn't know either of them.
It turned out be a great time.

We arrived tired on Thursday night, and went to bed fairly early (though I couldn't sleep due to a creepy fluttering sound in the kitchen). Actually, it's important to note our means of transportation. Greg rented a car, and had selected a black Mazda sedan on the internet. As we walked onto the lot at the airport and followed the numbers and letters to our car's spot, we saw one of the best surprises I've ever gotten; a bright burnt orange (UT colors) Chevy HHR. If you haven't heard of it, you've seen it; the HHR is Chevy's answer to the PT Cruiser. Greg was flabbergasted. To pour salt on Greg's wound, next to the HHR was a black Mazda sedan.

I woke up the next morning alone; Greg had to drive to Houston early that morning to visit a mutual friend, no pun intended (he runs a mutual fund). Upon orders from my friend Erin, I took her bike around the corner to a "Tex-Mex" restaurant and ate breakfast tacos for a dollar apiece. I got the last two. I then rode her bike to downtown Austin on one of the most beautiful days I can remember. It was then that I fell in love with Austin. It was a packed city with everything a 23 year old guy could want; music scene, tons of local restaurants and bars, and women. Maybe it was the stark contrast between Austin and Jefferson City, two capital cities, which is where the similarities stop. Maybe it was the breakfast tacos. All I know is I couldn't have picked a better place to break in my new Rainbow sandals.

I arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel, where Erin works, and under the shade of trees, as gracefully as one can, I unfurled into a hammock, and closed my eyes, only to be awoken by some piping hot Four Seasons coffee. I burned my tongue.
I later met up with my other friend, Kelly, for lunch, and, for the first time ever, I ordered Diet Dr. Pepper at a restaurant. Anyone who has lived with me knows I love the stuff, but to drink it in conjunction with a delicious Buffalo burger was just too much fun. And Kelly ordered it too! It was then that I knew Kelly and I were destined to be together. We talked about everything. Nothing was off limits. We really connected, you know?

We're engaged now. We spent the rest of the weekend planning our wedding. The date is July 17, which is a Thursday. Get ready for the best reception you've ever been to. She really wanted one of those cheesy cover bands that covers everything, but, luckily, I was able to talk some sense into her. We're getting a strictly Sinatra cover artist. I had to do some bargaining, of course. In exchange, we're going to do the whole Butterfly Kisses thing for her and her dad. Can you believe her dad actually used to sing that to her when she was little? I thought society was done with that little tradition.

Look, I'm sorry, alright? Thursday was the only day that worked for the both of us. Kelly has step class on Saturdays, and I mean every Saturday. She made sure when I called Carnival to book our honeymoon, that I asked if they held step class on the boat. They don't. So, I guess it's the Sandals Resort for us, after all (my choice anyway). I mean, I told her, I'm sure we can find a vacant step somewhere, honey; I'll even bring my boombox, if it means that much to you. Marriage, right?

The wedding will obviously be in my hometown, Norfolk, VA, at Tab Church. We're crossing our fingers for the sanctuary, but it will probably be booked, knowing Tab; so, it might be in the Lighthouse (youth center). Golly, that reminds me; I need to call Pastor Kenny. Kelly's going to kill me. I guess she'll have to learn about my forgetful nature sometime, right? By the way, If anyone has a cute niece who can walk up an aisle without making a fool of herself, we need a flower girl, but one with a little composure, please. See you there. Dress accordingly.


Summer movies I'm most excited about:

1. The Dark Knight, duh.
2. Indiana Jones
3. The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (if I lived in Korea)
4. Speed Racer
5. Prince Caspian
6. Iron Man (but not enough to go see it)
7. Wall-E
8. Incredible Hulk (I don't see why they're redoing it; although, I think I'm the only one who liked the first one)
9. The Mummy 3
10. Hancock

And here's Jet Li at age 8 (you'll recognize him at the end):

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

flickr video test

I continue to taunt you with fake blog posts. Flickr now has a video feature; they call it an extended photo. The limit is 1:30, the idea being that people will be uploading video from their digital cameras. Unfortunately, my first attempt at using Flickr video for work purposes has failed (something about the html script). So, I'm testing it on my blog to see if it's a software issue.

Here's a delicious video of the former British Prime Minister John Major speaking to the media at the Churchill Memorial in Fulton, Missouri, across the street from the gymnasium where Churchill delivered his famous "Iron Curtain" speech.

A true post is forthcoming.