Roanoke is a pussycat of a city at 5:00 in the morning, purring peacefully. It sleeps with the lights on.
I reached the station early and napped a couple of minutes, mine the only car in the parking lot. Beside the sleek, modern building, an array of a dozen large, curved antennae were aimed at an invisible point to the southwest, giving credence to the signage beside the front door: "Digital Broadcast Center".
Strange, I thought, to have a TV station in the middle of town. When I grew up, the tall antennas of Channel 6 and 7 bristled along the top of Birmingham's Red Mountain, up by Vulcan, red lights blinking and visible from anywhere in town.
The main floor, the command center of the station, is high-tech-equipped for three dozen staff, but at that hour, all of the ergonomically-correct workstations were empty. The WDBJ Morning Show host, Bob Grebe, seated me at one of them and we waiting for a commercial break to slip the lapel mic under my shirt to clip on my collar.
Bob and I would be situated at a tiny round table, and to my dismay (and a poor fit for my lanky torso) sitting on high metal-tubing stools. No back support. Couldn't find a comfortable place for my arms. I felt off-balance. Yikes! I wasn't sure where to look--at one of several cameras? at the host? Doesn't matter. Too late now.
The cameras where rolling (except there are no reels to ROLL any more, of course--it's all digital) and I'd have about 90 seconds out of each of three two-minute spots to try to go someplace worth going. That's not very many sentences. Mere soundbites. My mind plans conversation in paragraphs. This was not going to be a walk in the park. But then, I came in with no expectations beyond getting the name and cover and author's smiling face before potential readers. (I don't think I managed to smile much, actually. We'll see.)
And in the end, that expectation of visibility was certainly met. They even displayed some photographs from Fragments Galleries during the segments, which I had not expected. Great! Give "face and cover time" a grade of "A".
However, in the "creating reader interest in the book" I'll give myself a medium grade, a "C". If readers want to read it, it will be in spite of, not because of anything I was able to articulate about the book. Doh! And in the "making them care about the author" category, another "C".
No home run here, but then again, not a strike out. And I suppose a base-on-balls can score runs, too, right?
Thanks, Linda, for the promo that gained me the opportunity, and Bob Grebe for making me feel at home under the bright lights.
News at 6. (I'll take a look at the video clips when they come on line here in a bit. If they're not too frightful to watch, I'll post links that should be active for a week or so. If they are wretched, you'll just have to use your vivid blogger imaginations.)
BULLETIN: the video clips availability has been pre-empted by the breaking news regarding the convict who killed a security guard in the hospital where my wife works. I've just received word he has just shot a sherrif's deputy on the Virginia Tech campus and a full-out manhunt is underway. This is no small deal, folks: a desparate killer with nothing to lose on the very crowded, very exposed university campus. It seems a hostage-taking opportunity we will all hope this man doesn't have a chance to take.
UPDATE 11:00: Virginia Tech campus has been shut down. Dorms are in lockdown. Squires Student Center was evacuated and searched. This continues to be a tense situation. Three people have been shot already. It this guy gets out of Montomery County, he's likely to head to more remote places--like Giles County to the north. Or Floyd County to the south.