Message from the General Manager
I hope you’ll indulge me this month as I engage in a few somewhat personal reflections on the work we do in public media.
This trip down memory lane was prompted by the subject of one of our highlighted programs this month: My Wild Affair: The Seal Who Came Home. You may remember Andre the seal, who traveled each year from the New England Aquarium in Boston to his floating pen in Rockport Harbor on the coast of Maine. His biannual journey and his decades-long relationship with Harry Goodrich made them both celebrities in the 1970s and 80s. And one day long ago, it was my privilege as a young member of the WCBB-TV production crew to paddle out to that floating pen to put lavalier microphones on the program host, Harry and…Andre. This bit of nostalgia made me think about how much has changed in our business and how much has remained the same.
For instance, the microphones I put on them were no tiny clip-ons; each was the size of a half-smoked stogie cigar. Wireless technology hadn’t arrived yet and each was attached to a quarter-inch-thick cable and all three snaked through 50 feet of ice-cold water back to the production truck. The truck itself was the size of large bus. It housed the switcher, a tape recorder the size of a sofa, and the control units for the three cameras. Each camera weighed 150 pounds and made barely acceptable pictures…in black and white. It took a crew of 12 people to record that half-hour show. Obviously, today you could almost do the whole thing in HD with a couple of cell phones and an iPad—a tremendous change.
But what is also significant about this almost 40-year-old story is that it is being re-told nationally. The story of Andre (like many others) was compelling in 1975 and is still today. Powerful stories are just that: they can change our view of the world and influence our actions and thus our future. That is why storytelling is as important today as it was when our predecessors scrawled on cave walls with charcoal. It’s not the technology, it’s the story.
So, whether the story is from Jacob Bronowski or Ken Burns or one of our talented producers at WGBY, important stories, well told, are what we do. No matter what tools we use. Rather timeless, don’t you think?
Thanks for making it possible for all these years.
Russell J. Peotter