KCRA — Louise Koebbe turns 100!
When I go out on a news story I do not have any plan. I basically just go and size it when I get there.
When I started out in the business I was always told, “Plan. Plan. Plan. Think of the story ahead of time.” That was probably good training to make me always be thinking about what I was working on. However, after doing this for three decades now, I just show up and go with the flow.
So many times I’ve been told that the story is going to be one thing and then when I get there it’s quite a bit less than how it was pitched to me. I still have to shoot the story, I’ve just learned to adapt to whatever is there.
News is working by the seat of my pants. I view it as an exercise in improvisation. It’s like jazz — when you get good enough at it you don’t have to know the tune or the song, you just go with the moment. No matter what happens, you’re going to get something.
The day started with shooting a little story on the California Air Resources doing spot inspections of the exhaust emissions of commercial trucks on the highway. I’d just finished when I got a text from the assignment desk about a billboard celebrating a woman’s hundred year birthday.
So I called Malissa Chacon on the assignment desk.
“You got my text?
“Yes, something about a 100-year-old woman and a billboard?”
“No a 100-year-old woman celebrating her birthday playing billiards at a pool hall.”
“Oh, okay. That’s new.”
“Yeah, go and check it out and see what you can get. If it’s anything, the 6 o’clock producer would love a special Mike Carroll package.”
I got to the Hard Times Billiards hall on Auburn Avenue. Louise Koebbe was celebrating her hundred birthday with her club – the Widowed Persons Association of California, W.P.A.C., an organization that started here in Sacramento in 1989 and has over 500 members in Sacramento alone. They are very strict. In order to become a member an applicant has to present a death certificate of their spouse.
Louise was wonderful and everyone was very welcoming and happy to have KCRA there to document the event. I shot a number of interviews and plenty of shots of Louise and her friends shooting pool. They meet there every Tuesday. Then I packed up and headed back to the station.
On the way, I knew that I had something, but, quite frankly, I had no idea just what it was.
Sometimes when I leave from shooting a story I can see it all in my head. This wasn’t one of those times. I had no idea. I went back, loaded everything into the computer and started logging. But even then I didn’t know what I was going to write.
I printed out the log sheets and started taking the good sound bites and moving them around, essentially editing the story on paper. Then started coming up with words to stich things together.
Eventually I had a script, yet I had no introduction to the story. Then it occurred to me: What events took place in 1913, the year Louise was born? I clicked on Google and asked 1913 events and found a number of interesting things and made that the introduction. When you see the story you’ll know what I mean.
This is a story that just happened along the way – I was sent to it out of the blue, shot it off-the-cuff, and found the story as I went.
Sometimes you planet. Sometimes you wing it. This one I just went with. In the end, I don’t think it turned out
In the end, I think it turned out better that way.
You watch and decide for yourself.