One-Man Early Origins – Wichita, Kansas, 1985

Published On April 30, 2011 | By Mike Carroll | Shooting News, The Next Book, TV News Vault

Mike in his first few months as a staff news photographer at KWCH-TV in Wichita, Kansas, 1984.

KWCH Sail Plane 1987 Vimeo from Mike Carroll on Vimeo.

KWCH Sail Plane – Summer 1985, Wichita, Kansas

I try to post all of the one-man photographer-reporter stories that I do here on the site. I’ve been enjoying being allowed this opportunity in my day job at KCRA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento, California, where I’ve worked since 1989. But I first jumped into the photographer-reporter scene at the first news department I worked in at KWCH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Wichita, Kansas. Over the next few weeks or so I’m going to add some of my first efforts at this. I have a box of old ¾” cassettes with old stories that I’m trying to transfer while they still work. Some work, others are nothing more that electronic noise.

Here is a story from a warm day in the summer of 1985. I was working on a dead quiet Saturday when was going on. While driving back to the station after lunch I saw a man out in a field pitching a radio-controlled sail plane in the air. Never having seen anything like this before I pulled the car over, pulled out my news camera and Sony 110 recording deck (this was in the days before BetaCam) and walked over.

The man was really easygoing to talk to me. But then after shooting for only a little while, the Sony deck stopped working. Deck problems were a constant issue for all the shooters at KWCH back then.

I returned to the station with only four and a half minutes of footage, expecting to only have enough for a short reader, a VO-SOT in the business, for “Voice Over to Sound On Tape.”

However, once I started logging the brief amount of footage I found that I had just barely enough to put a story together. Literally writing to everything that I had, I wrote this story, tracked it, cut it and turned it in to the five o’clock producer about an hour later.

Saturdays were pretty relaxed and good for turning a photographer-reporter story like this so I was always on the lookout for something that I could make a package out of on my own. I didn’t do this so much to prove to the people in the newsroom that I could do it – after the first package I turned they openly accepted that I could do it. I did these stories to prove to myself that I was capable of doing a story by myself.

Now that the industry is going through a shift, both due to technology and the economy, I have the opportunity to do this kind of work again. And it’s a challenge to get back into the saddle and go. As well as a challenge to prove to myself, every time I set out to one-man a story, that I can make it work. I hope I never get too complacent at this because shooting and interviewing for as story, then writing it as well, keeps me teetering on the edge – and still feeling that little bit of risk is a good thing to have challenging you.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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