Special Event Stations (QSL Cards)

I was the network television pool camera for the Desert Storm “Victory” Parade. We were on a Flat bed truck rolling in front of the parade leaders. I took this still image of General Schwarzkopf and his staff at the front as they marched down Constitution avenue in Washington DC., The parade was in June of 1991. I used the photo for a “Veterans Day Special Event Station” 1991.  On Veterans Day that Year (91) it was pouring rain!  Wet and Cold. We operated near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the service drive next to the Lincoln Memorial.  We were in an empty truck similar to a UPS delivery truck with no packages. We set up a table and put wire antennas out.  It was fun.


This was the first Special Event Station I organized.  Me and several Hams from NBC manned the station, set up near this monument statue near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  On the air there was a tremendous response.  I shot this photo on the morning of Veteran’s Day 1990. About 7am. I’ve always liked this statue. Jan Scruggs the Vet who made the wall happen, came by that day and said hi at the station site.

Random career pictures:  No one had more fun!!

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Emmy 2013

I was a Television News – field photographer, field technical director, KU SAT Op and field producer for 20 years. Based in Washington DC I shot news and sports into the mid-90s. I took a Masters Degree and then went into television technical ops management.  (and I continued to have a professional blast in broadcasting.)  In 2003 I left NBC in Washington DC  and went to work for KABC in LA.  Retired Fall of 2013. At age:63

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ABOVE: Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev came to Washington DC to meet with President Reagan.  The Press blanketed the City during his stay. I drew a fun assignment. Me and Katie Couric staked out the Russian Embassy on 16th street to watch the comings and goings. Lots of tourists came by as well as did Washington DC celebrities including Carl Bernstein (one of the most important journalists of the 20th century).  Katie took the photo. Bernstein just hung out and watched the Russian Zil limo’s come and go like everyone else.

Commercial Shoot

Above: July 4, 1982. On the Capitol mall. As I recall the Beach Boys were playing that day.
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Me: Standing in the center of Hollywood Blvd. during the Oscars 2011. Entertainment Tonight and BBC cameras on the platform above.

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Above: Emmys at the end of the day as I’m walking to the Production Truck  I see these two women from Entertainment Tonight looking at pictures. I just ripped off a quick picture of them and kept on walking.

Above: A few of the dozens and dozens of News ID’s–over the years

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Pre-Fox Steve Doocy.  He didn’t like me.  I didn’t like him.

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Location:  Balcony of the  US Senate Russell office building.  This is where Network TV reporters have stood for decades when reporting on Capitol Hill stories.

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Hanging out with Desert Storm Vets before the start of the Victory parade. I always carried 2 radios for comms.  UHF for transmission comms and VHF for editorial.

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Above:  On my home desk. An early 1960’s image orthicon Television Camera Tube. An Old Timer in the MTC department gave it to me. If you work on the Oscars production they give you the official event poster.  This was said to be “cool”  because it was not available to the general public.  Hollywood “elitists”!! 
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In LA, when we upgraded to the last of the “Big Iron” Cameras- My Boss and I pushed for the Canon 22:1 Lenses.  Even at our huge discount, they were over $20K each. We bought just shy of a half-million dollars worth of Glass.  We had the best – looking video in LA.tank2 DesertDesert Storm: We’re driving toward Kuwait in Saudi Arabia– and we come upon a broken down US Tank.  The Tank Commander was an E-6 Sgt.  He laughed when I said, “Hey Sgt. If you don’t want us to shoot you and your out of operation tank we won’t!” He  said, “No, it’s ok”.

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Emmy’s 2013 Set up

Above: Set up at the Emmy’s 2013. Me taking a break on the Entertainment Tonight Camera platform.

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Me at the Oscars 2010. I had the one Coolest Video production jobs of my career at this event.

Above:  Departing or returning to the NBC News Washington DC bureau. I’m guessing around 1980

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My Office. I put a Yaesu FT-5000 poster on the wall (left side). ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company.  We were on the Glendale Campus.  Beautiful buildings, an awesome commissary  and surrounded by interesting Disney projects  The Imagineering guru’s were across the street. And the Disney consumer products group were near. All young hipsters.  Fun, progressive environment to work in.

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1977. Studio Camera. NBC in Washington DC

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Summer 1985 — Joe Namath was to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. In early summer we flew up to Connecticut where Namath still has summer Football camp for kids. As I recall we were there 3 days to shoot a “profile piece” on Namath. It’s impossible to overstate how much fun it was shooting that story. Namath was sincere,friendly and you would never have known he was still one of the most famous Sports celebrities in the nation.

Legendary University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant said Namath was, “the greatest athlete I have ever coached.” At the 1985 Hall of Fame induction ceremony Joe Namath got emotional and broke down in tears when he attributed his success to his deceased coach — Paul “Bear” Bryant — at Alabama.

“Wherever you are,” said Namath between sobs, “… thanks Coach.”

I’ve still got the Sun Visor! The Joe Namath Football Camp starts July 10th 2017. The 45th year!

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A War story……..

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You are 20 years old, Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, seated in the open 101 Eagledoor of a Huey helicopter launched on a CA (Combat Assault by Air)— There are five other Soldiers seated on the floor of the ship with you. Helmeted/Sun Visored Door gunners man M-60 machine gun’s on the left and right rear of the cabin.  There are five other Huey’s to put your platoon into the bush. You are on the third aircraft as they fly in a line. Your Mission:  Go Kill the enemy in the Jungle of  Vietnam near the Ashau Valley. Flight time about 15 minutes.

The beauty of the Jungle stretches to the horizon. A hot wind blows in your face as the ship flies at 100 knots skimming the tree tops. Looking out forward you see F-4′ (Fighter IMG_0308Bombers) pounding the hill you are going to land on in about 2 minutes.  There may be Dinks( the term US GI’s used ) on that hill., There may not be.  That last 2 minutes in the air, is the definition of anxiety.  As the Helicopter approaches the hilltop to land  the pilot flares the ship ( to “flare” a Helicopter the pilot puts the nose of the chopper up and reduces speed quickly and gently brings the descending aircraft to a hover at anywhere from  2-8 feet above the ground in the ideal.)

I always preferred to be first off the ship from about 4-6 feet.  Remember the infantry soldiers are carrying rucksacks on their back weighing anywhere from 30-50 pounds. This does not include weapons and ammo.   And it is during that final approach, the flaring of the aircraft, that’s when you learn all pilots are not equal.  There may be smoke or even fire on the LZ ( the Landing Zone),  maybe a couple of  Cobras on station (Helicopter Gun Ships) —-The Door Gunners on your ship, swivel their weapons, watching the LZ closely as the descent begins.  If you have an experienced combat pilot he’s going to come in fast, flare and drop you from 4-6 feet off the ground.  He did his part (getting you in fast and close to the ground ) — Now you (Grunts) do your partGet the Fuck out of the ship! –  (Where is the rest of the unit? In the near tree line? In that clump of Elephant grass ? Were you paying attention to the ground as you came in? Did you see how the first 2 Choppers went in?).  Again I prefer to be in the open door if not on the skid as my launch point to disembark.  Get a Nod from the crew chief if you want to stand on the skid during approach.  In the open door, you will be able to gauge how the  Pilot brings the ship in and leap to the ground — (There is an art to this, too long to go into here– ) It is at this moment when you jump to the ground that is an inexplicable high!! …..Once hitting the ground, the roar of the ship is deafening as the rest of the team exits the Chopper.   There is now a  partial sense of relief...” Well, I’m on the ground and no one is shooting at me yet”. As you run to join the rest of the platoon, the tremendous aircraft engine noise fades away as the last ship in departs the LZ.  Suddenly it’s very quiet.  Listen! If there is No small arms fire that is a good sign!!…… the Pink Team or an O-2 may still be on station, but your immediate environment is now quieter and easier to interpret. One key to staying alive in the jungle is noise discipline. Don’t make unnecessary noise! Communicate by whisper or hand signal. Once the platoon Sergeant has the unit organized, we move out   Going who knows where….  In my experience, the majority of CA’s were not met with enemy resistance. Thankfully!  Yet that last 2 minutes on the ship and the first couple of minutes on the ground are the most fun, exciting, gut-wrenching and stimulating time of your short life.    Professionally I was a Network level TV  News cameraman for 20 years. —–  but nothing in my life experience, ever matched the RUSH of going in on a Helicopter CA in a Slick as a member of an Infantry unit.  Believe it or not…. it could be addictive.  I’ll never forget it,  

Air MedalMany in the infantry received the Blue and Orange ribbonAir” Medal awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.”.     I remember when my Platoon Sgt. handed me my orders as a recipient of the Air Medal. No Ceremony. No Handshake. Just “here you go.  When I look at my framed Air Medal hanging on a wall in my home, it is that last 2 minutes Inbound on the chopper that comes back to me.  The whap-whap-whap of the Huey, the hot air in my face, the sound of the fighter-bombers, the stomach in knots, and the leap to the ground….

I remember it all, even now as an old man…..

Mike Whatley / 101st Airborne Division / I Corps Vietnam. 70-71.

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Double Click to Zoom In.  Mike Whatley and Scout Dog( His head on my leg) taking off from Camp Eagle headed to the “Bush”. Spring 1971.

 

Career Flash-Back: “Special Event Station” at trial of would-be Presidential assassin John Hinckley

 

1982 Hinckley Beach

In June 1982 as a Cameraman for NBC News based in Washington D.C. every Saturday for a month I was assigned to stake out the U.S. Federal Courthouse where the trial of attempted Presidential assassin John Hinckley was underway. All the networks and the print media set up on the front lawn of the courthouse. (This was back when Federal Courthouse security was waaaay more lax than it is today.) Our job was to await new developments and the lawyers would periodically come out and stand in front of the microphones and update the press.  We in the Press Corps called the setting, “Hinckley Beach” since it was summer and little happened until the end of the trial.  We’d bring lawn chairs, coolers and umbrellas to beat the DC summer heat and humidity.

One weekend, I threw my Kenwood TS-130 HF rig in the microwave truck and and a Hustler Mobile Whip that I mounted on an upside down trash can (a faux ground) and set it up on the roof of the van. A Washington Post photographer thought my radio set up was interesting and shot the photo above. It didn’t make it into the paper, but he sent me a copy.

My recollection is, I worked alot of DX on 15 meters that day. Foreign Hams would express surprise when I told them where I was operating from. Surely operating from the courthouse would be prohibited!  I was on the air, MC-60 mic in hand when this photo taken. It was fun.

NOTE: Some years later (mid 90’s)  I would see Hinckley up close and photograph him thanks to (Bearcat Scanners)….but that’s another story for another time(and video too!)

Random career photo. At the Oscars!

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On the Red Carpet at 7:30am day before the Oscars / 2012

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I worked at the Academy Awards show for 9 years. It was a 2 week project in February each year.  I had the best job in the place!  Red Carpet  multi-cam coverage. We produced an international show (Non-Broadcast) streamed to the WORLD.   — the fans the stars the whole scene was a blast. Hollywood Blvd: Ground Zero of Celebrity Worship!!  The streaming show got tons of social media feedback. Never underestimate the global interest in American entertainment!

Year: 2012′

Photo the next day. (W/ EFX)j 

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