Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts September 2006


It's been a tough week.  On Sunday afternoon, a friend called to say that Jerry Trently had died.  This friend and I worked together for six years at WHP in Harrisburg.  For most of that time, Jerry was our news director.

For the past year or so, Jerry put up a strong fight against brain cancer.  He had at least one tumor and, as I understand it, the cancer was well advanced by the time any symptoms emerged.  Radiation and chemo slowed the disease for a while, but could not stop it.  Jerry was 43, married, and the father of a son.

Jerry's funeral was Thursday.  I took the day off from work so I could be there.  There was no breaking news that day (at least that I know of), which is a good thing because at least half of the staff from WHP was there.  Several people from the other stations in the market were also there.  So were some of Jerry's co-workers from past years.  Every seat in the church was filled, and every eye was filled with tears.

I did not know Jerry well outside of work.  But, as a journalist, I was privileged to know and learn from a man of vision and passion, a man who used the video camera to expose the bigger picture.  Jerry, I don't think, had any real desire to be a news director.  His true love was photojournalism.  But, he also loved WHP and, when the station needed him, he was there - in more ways than a lot of people will probably ever know.

Even as news director, though, he never really let go of the camera.  He spent many Friday nights shooting high school football.  Sometimes, he came across stories that he felt compelled to tell as only he could.  If someone else was telling the story, Jerry made it better.

In the months and weeks leading up to the war in Iraq, I was assigned to write a series of stories about the military facilities in the Harrisburg area.  So, one day, one of the photographers and I went to the Letterkenny Army Depot.  Another day, I took a crew to the Army War College in Carlisle.  And, one day, Jerry and I went to the Naval Supply facility in Mechanicsburg.

I was excited about going to LETTERKENNY.  They make humvees there.  They store ammo.  They showed us a Patriot missile battery.  In other words, Letterkenny has what could be called good video opportunities.  A good story should be easy.

The ARMY WAR COLLEGE?  Not great video opportunities, but I think someone else was actually writing that story, so I wasn't too concerned.

As for the NAVAL SUPPLY place, that was my concern.  And, man, was I concerned.  Basically, what goes on there is that people make sure the troops have what they need.  They don't make anything.  They use computers to make sure that the stuff that other people make, gets where it needs to go.  And, they also have lots of different acronymns - NAVSUP, NAVICP, etc.  I thought, great.  No video.  Confusing acronymns.  This is going to suck.

But, for this story, Jerry was my photographer.  The first thing we did was meet a couple of pre-arranged interviewees in a conference room on the base.  Jerry set up lights.  With umbrellas.  Once he had everything just so, and had everyone seated where he wanted them, I started asking questions.  I think Jerry asked some, too.  Then, we went to another area, and took pictures of people working at computers.  On our way out, he took pictures of some of the other parts of the base - the fire house, the PX, I think there might have even been a bowling place.  And, once we were outside, Jerry took pictures of the gates.  The Navy gave us some stock video of ships and dock activities.  And, you know what?  The story didn't suck.  In fact, I remember thinking that it was the best one of all.  Thanks, in no small part, to Jerry.

To get a better sense of Jerry's talent, please go HERE.  This tribute was played recently at the Mid-Atlantic Emmy awards, when a scholarship in Jerry's name was established.   

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TV Junkies

The following story ran yesterday on the AP wire:

NEW YORK (AP) - Televisions have taken over the average American
      Nielsen Media Research says the average home in the U-S now has
more television sets than people to sit down and watch them.
      The researchers say there are now two-point-seven-three T-V sets
in the typical home, compared to just two-point-five-five people.
      Nielsen says half of American homes now have three or more T-Vs,
while only 19 percent have just one. In 1975, 57 percent of homes
had only a single set.
      Nielsen also says more people are watching more television, as
sets are turned on for more than eight hours a day in the average
      The average person watches for four hours and 35 minutes of
television each day.

***Questions:  1) Does it count as a TV if it doesn't work?  2)  Does an "hour" of TV include commercials, or can you legitimately cram more than one "hour" into an hour if you fast forward and/or skip them?

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Where's the Love?

The boys from the City of Brotherly Love don't seem to be getting much love these days - at least not from the national sports media types.  As this very minute - 1:26 a.m. - the Phillies are tied with the Dodgers for the lead in the NL Wildcard race.  Tied!  After trading away Bobby Abreu and a couple veteran pitchers, after conventional wisdom said wait until next year, the Phillies somehow have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time in, what, 13 years?

Yet, listen to anything on ESPN radio or TV and the Phillies seem to be an afterthought.  Just after midnight, as I was driving home and listening to ESPN radio, the two guys hosting the show that was on the air gave their baseball highlights in approximately the following order:

Roger Clemens pitching and winning what may be his final home game for the Houston Astros; the Giants winning and managing to maintain an outside shot at the playoffs, though still trailing the Padres and Dodgers, who were both losing at the time; the Marlins beat the Mets; the Yankees clinch thanks to a Twins win; then, finally, we get to the Phillies win over the Cubs.

Now, to be fair, they spent about 30 or 40 seconds talking about the game - Utley's home run, Howard's intentional walk in the 8th even though the Cubs were already losing by four runs.  The ESPN guys said Dusty Baker should be fired from baseball for doing that!  But, they failed to mention that Brett Myers pitched a complete game - his first in more than a year.

My point is that here's a team that, at the end of July, NO ONE (including me) gave ANY shot at making the playoffs.  Yet, here they are, one of three teams that still has a realistic chance at the wildcard.  And, what do we get?  We get coverage that has kind of a "by the way" attitude.  Let's talk about all these other teams whether they're contenders or not, and, oh, by the way, the Phillies have won 7 of their last 9.  They're tied for the wildcard lead, but, by the way, we're wondering if Ryan Howard is on steroids.  We don't have any real reason to suspect that, but we'll speculate anyway.

What the hell?!?  Give the Phils some props.  Even if they fall short, at least they showed some spirit.

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Killer Windows

I usually keep the shades pulled down on the large windows in my living room and dining room.  In the dining room, it's to keep the sunlight from fading the material on the chairs.  In the living room, it's to keep the glare off the TV.

But, it turns out that keeping the shades drawn may also save lives.

Consider this afternoon.  I was trimming the grass in the front yard, and I noticed a bird - a wren, maybe - by one of the shrubs.  It was dead (the bird, not the shrub).  The shrub just happens to be just below the front window.  You know, the new, triple-paned, krypton gas-filled window. And, I think the poor bird was its victim.

I suspect that the bird hit the window the other day when, for some reason or other, I actually had the shade raised.  I don't remember why the shade was up, but I do remember hearing a "thunk."  My guess is that the bird tried to fly right into the living room, but the triple-paned, krypton gas-filled window got in the way. 

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Election Preview

Less than two months from election day now.  Ads from Casey, Santorum, Sherwood, Carney, Rendell and Swann have been on the air for several weeks.  I expect the more local candidates to start in about a month or so.

Soon enough, I'll be into election preparations full time.  There are quite a few contested races but, as of now, the most interesting ones appear to be:

US Senate - Bob Casey vs Rick Santorum

10th Congressional District - Chris Carney vs Don Sherwood

189th PA House District - John Siptroth vs Donna Asure

118th PA House District - Mike Carroll vs Maureen Tatu

Am I missing anything?

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Paris, Paris, Paris

You'd think that with the Hilton family fortune behind her, not to mention her own up and coming career as a recording artist, that Paris Hilton could manage to scrounge up a few dollars to buy some food.  Or, perhaps one of her fabulously wealthy friends would be kind enough to loan her some cash.  Or, better yet, they might say, "Just put it on my tab."

But, no.  Apparently, none of that happened.  Paris chose to spend her money on a margarita - just one, mind you - and ended up getting busted for DUI.  According to police, Paris was "driving erratically."  She says she was more tired than drunk, and was stopped for speeding while on her way to get some food in her system.  Whatever.

According to her spokesman, Paris got up very early Wednesday morning - 2 or 3 a.m. early - to go work on her new music video.  She apparently ate nothing all day, but did drink the single aforementioned margarita. Then, at 12:30 the following morning, she got pulled over by the LAPD.  

I just can't believe that somewhere in those 20+ hours between the time she got up and the time she got stopped, that she didn't have access to some sort of food.  There must have been something on the set of the music video.  If nothing else, she should have at least had some nachos along with her margarita. 

Sounds like Paris needs to use some of her celebrity star power to demand a lunch break.


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Solid Steele

I've finished watching my DVDs of "Remington Steele."  All in all, a very well done show.  The shows during the fifth season were kind of lame, but I really enjoyed watching the first four seasons.  I know that I watched this show during its original run in the 80's, but damn if I remembered a lot of the episodes.  In fact, I forgot so much, that it was almost like the series was new all over again.

So, now that I've done with that, maybe I can give the Martha Grimes novel I've started another go.  This is the second time I've tried to read it, and it's not going much better than the first time.  I just can't seem to get interested.  Maybe it's because the plot deals with horses.  We'll see.

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It's a Small Business

One thing about the TV news biz - it's small.  Anyone who's in the business is probably connected to everyone else in the business by about two or three degrees.  In other words, if you don't know a  person directly, you probably know someone (who knows someone) who does.

Case in point, a friend sent me an email saying he met a woman who works at a TV station in New England.  He dropped my name, and said she might be emailing me about job openings. 

I emailed him back to say that I have actually met this woman before.  When I worked in Harrisburg, she came to the station for an interview, and I was assigned to take her out to dinner.

Small world.  Smaller business.

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Missed it by THAT much

My timing was a tad off yesterday.  On my way to the grocery store, I stopped to get gas.  Regular unleaded was going for $2.61/gallon.  As I was filling up, I noticed an employee changing the price on the sign - to $2.55.


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