How to Be Smooth
This is a quickie.
TV and radio are technical professions. Everybody depends on everybody else for a smooth outcome. Mistakes happen; lights burn out, things fall over, the wrong button gets pushed, a graphic disappears, a computer crashes. But when they happen, people work to make them as unnoticable as possible. That doesn’t always happen. Reporters, anchors and hosts get caught off guard by flubs, both those of other people and their own. They might apologize, do double takes, start something over, laugh or do any one of a thousand things people do when they’re surprised.
But being smooth is part of being professional, and sometimes, someone is so simply casual about fixing a fix that you have to admire them for it. Such was the case with KOIN’s Sally Showman this morning. At the 8:30 local news, traffic and weather break, the camera cut to her giving her weather forecast. Her lips were moving but nothing was coming out. There was a problem with her audio. And smoothly, almost unnoticably, she reached around behind her own back, switched on her wireless microphone, and, as they say in the Army, “continued to march.”
How did she know we couldn’t hear her? Possibly someone on the studio floor motioned to her that her mic wasn’t working. Maybe (if she was wearing an earpiece), the director told her to turn it on. But considering the blooper tapes I’ve seen in my life, even pros can sometimes make something as simple as pushing a button look like a Steve Martin routine.
Live broadcasting is an acquired skill. It is a dance; gear, people, timing and electronics all choreographed while you drink your coffee. You’ve seen so many dances that you, discerning audience that you are, know when somebody is stumbling. So, when there’s a problem, it’s not enough to just fix it. The fix must also be as ordinary as it is elegant.