TWITTER: @sirbacon123

16 April 2010

30 Seconds of Fame

In 1984, when I was a Freshman in college, I wrote an amazing term paper on the birth of Cable Television. 
I got an A. 
I really did my homework on that one, contacting all the big players in the business at the time -- MTV, ESPN and CNN.
It was so good, I used the same exact paper again as a Sophomore and Junior.
I think I got an A on those too.
Why waste a good thing, right?  I was green before green.
Well, little did I know at the time that cable TV would be responsible for putting food on the table for my wife and kids.
Little did I know at the time that I would actually have a wife and kids.
After working for eight years in local TV, I spent the next 17 years working behind-the-scenes for the top cable sports networks in all of the land.
Talk about dreaming the impossible dream.
Unfortunately that dream came to a crashing halt a year-and-a-half ago, but yesterday I made my triumphant return to cable TV in a much different role -- in front of the camera.
I was on air, making my pitch on CNN’s 30-Second Pitch, where each week they give unemployed people 30-seconds to sell themselves to potential employers.
It’s really a fantastic idea and a great way to connect with a growing demographic.
I got the invite from CNN last Friday and from the moment I opened the email, I had a pit in my stomach.
Not an olive pit or a peach pit.   It was more like the La Brea Tar Pits.   
I actually spent several days not eating.   Well, maybe not days, but at least 20 minutes.
I have absolutely no problem talking about myself, but on national TV?  
Are you kidding me?   
Plus, I’ve always been told I have a face for radio.
This was a recipe for disaster.
Of course, there was also the potential for a job.
Risk?  Yes.   Reward?  YES.
I somehow made it through the week, preparing myself for the big day.
I arrived at the studio 40 minutes before the live shot.  CNN had requested 25. That gave me an extra 15 minutes to find a brown paper bag to breath into.
To be perfectly honest, the best thing I did was sit in the chair where the interview was being done way before my time.
There must’ve been some magic in that chair because it made all of my fear disappear.
I was scheduled to go live at 10:40am Eastern.   Then it got pushed back to 10:43.   No biggie.
Then President Obama came on with some “breaking news”.
Hey, if you are going to get pre-empted, that’s the way to go.
Finally at 10:53, it was showtime.
Kyra Phillips, the host of the show, did a fantastic job making me feel at ease.  
She said hello.   I said hello.   
She asked me why I'm writing a blog.  I answered why I'm writing a blog.
We were a real Donny and Marie.
Then she set me up for my 30 seconds of fame.
I was on a roll, nailing every word I had practiced about 5,000 times without once looking down at my notes.
Then, out of nowhere, a man’s voice jumped into my earpiece:
“We need to do that again,” the voice said.
Now I’m pretty used to hearing voices in my head, but it’s never happened before WHILE I WAS DOING A LIVE SHOT ON CNN.
I had that split second to make a decision.
Make that half of a split second.  
Re-start or keep going?
I’m not sure why, but I decided to push forward and finish my 30-seconds.   Fortunately there was just a blip of the deer-in-the-headlights look.
As it turned out, that was the best decision of the day.
There were no technical problems.  There was no reason to start over.
In fact, who knows if that was even a real person in my head.
A few seconds later, Kyra said thanks, I said thanks and we all skipped our merry way.
But what if?
What if I would’ve stopped, as I was directed.
Clearly, somebody hit the wrong button somewhere and that message was not intended for me.
Slip happens. 
In 25 years of working in TV, I’ve definitely been on the other side of that, talking to the wrong person at the wrong time.
But this was REALLY the wrong time.   This was no seasoned vet in the chair. This was me.
I don’t think anybody expected me to be polished on-air, but had I stopped and started all over, I would’ve been a youtube sensation.
Wait a minute...
I could’ve been a youtube sensation.
Well by all accounts -- like my handful of close friends who talked me off the ledge for the last week -- it went extremely well.
I heard words like "perfect" and "you looked so young" and "you did a great job."
I don't know if they think I'm a charity case, but I truly appreciated the donations.

And on tax day, nonetheless.
By the time I got back to my car to visit my phone, about seven minutes later, I was greeted by nine text messages, two voice mails and about 40 new emails.
Amazingly, every single one of the messages said the same thing:  
  Did you really use the same exact term paper three different times?


Erwann said...

Really? People asked if you used the same exact term paper three different times?

That is so funny!

Hope you get a job out of all this... if not, I am sure you will get the respect of anyone who read your article...

Hang in there, buddy, you are a great person.


Anonymous said...

When I tuned in at the sked time my first thought was you must have spent way too much time in thr sun because you changed skin color - although to quote Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Not only did you do a fabulous job but I really liked the banter between you and Kyra and it sounded like she had a fun time, too. I hope all this turns into something positive and you get some solid leads. It would be interesting to post the thoughts of your family on their father/husband being on TV.

Aimlow Joe said...

I saw your appearance. You did fine. Do you really think you'll get a job from it?

I was thinking about what I would have said.

I probably would have went off on a tangent about how there at 15 million other unemployed people in this country and that a 30 second pitch segment on CNN was patronizing and ineffective.

I probably would have ranted about how there is an undercurrent of anger and frustration in the middle class because we have been decimated by the push for corporate profits and the politicians are only beholden to the money class because that is who pays for their reelections.

I would have most likely told people to turn off their TV's quit identifying with the Tea Party and start organizing a middle class party.

But that is just me wranting.
Good luck to you, let us know how it works out.

Aimlow Joe

Anonymous said...

You did a great job! Don't worry; I didn't see any glitch. Keep going!