Thursday, April 2, 2015

How Does it Feel (Part II)?

"So... how does it feel?" 

I'm still being asked that question a lot. And today -- a few days into my new job -- I can answer it better than I could a week ago.

It feels different.The routine, the atmosphere, the job. It's all different. Not bad -- not bad at all -- just different.

I'm still adjusting to it -- starting with the sleep schedule. I've still been waking up at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., ready to get up and go. But I've been able to remind my body there's still time to sleep. I'm actually enjoying the commute -- enjoying the ability to listen to my friends in morning radio (that may be another blog post for another time). The drive home is a little less enjoyable -- only because once I leave, I want to get home!

Very different. For one thing, I have an office! Four walls, a window, a door, a desk and some furniture. But man, this place needs some work. It's so... empty. I'll make it homey eventually -- hopefully sooner rather than later. Two of my colleagues are UConn grads and fans -- and have decorated their offices appropriately. So, as you can imagine, I will be countering that by making my space as Orange as possible. 

The other big change about the atmosphere is the quiet. Newsrooms are not quiet. At all. There's TV noise... police scanner noise... people talking, laughing, shouting, etc. noise. Here, it's pretty quiet. I'm trying to counter that by streaming something, anything through my computer. I've always been able to concentrate better when there's noise... the quiet freaks me out!

Obviously that's different. Many of the skills translate well from journalism to public relations, but the day-to-day job is quite different. There's a lot of important communication between the team here at GBPR and our many clients. We work for them and with them on a variety of projects. So there are weekly conference calls, daily emails, and plenty of status report meetings. 

Like in news, it's important everyone's on the same page. But unlike in news, the deadlines are very different. Sure, some are immediate. But many are weeks, months, even years down the line. TV newsroom aren't great at long term planning -- and they'll admit it. "Christmas is today? Did we get a press release on that?!?" I'm kidding... but the reality is there's so much going on every day and the focus has to be on that -- on what's happening right now and how does it fit into the six (give or take) hours of TV newscasts a newsroom has to produce on a daily basis. 

What I really wish is that I could just plug my brain in to some database and download everything I need to know about, well, everything! But it doesn't work that way... so I'm learning the old fashioned way. I'm processing as much as I can... as quickly as I can.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Does it Feel?

"So... how does it feel?" 

I've been asked that question a lot in the two weeks since I left television. The thing is, I honestly can't answer it. I can't answer it, because it doesn't feel real yet.

In the last two weeks, I've taken a quick trip to Florida to see the Mets play spring training baseball, gone several days without shaving, stayed up later than 9PM and slept later than 2:30AM. I've joked that I've been "enjoying my retirement." But the truth is, it just feels like I'm on vacation. I have to remind myself that I'm not going back to WTNH on Monday. I'm going to be starting my new job at Gaffney Bennett Public Relations.

I have to remind myself of that, not because I'm not excited to start this new job. I can't wait to start! I have to remind myself of that, because for 20 years "going to work" has meant, basically, one thing -- being a news reporter or anchor. So my perception of a "work" is very limited. I'm excited to change that perception -- but right now, my mind can't quite fill in the canvas and paint that picture.

So for now, you'll have to accept "I don't know" as my answer if you ask, "How does it feel?" Eventually, I'll have a real answer. It just doesn't feel real yet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Guys, I am overwhelmed. I'd say I'm speechless... but I'm writing a blog here. So I'll find some words...

The response I've gotten to my career change announcement this week has really taken me by surprise -- in the best way possible. I expected a handful of people to say, "good luck." I figured a few would say, "we'll miss you on TV."

I underestimated when I anticipated "a handful" and "a few."

I am humbled... I am moved... and I am appreciative. And I think there's a lesson here for all of us in this great business of broadcasting. We have an impact on everyone who watches or listens to us. Sometimes, that impact can be profound. And it's something we should always keep in mind and never take for granted.

Heck, that's a good thing to remember for anyone... in any line of work.

I want to share two messages I received that really hit me right in the feels.

In TV news, you're always pushed to think about what's next. Yesterday's story is "old news"; there's a new story to do today. But yesterday's story may have been a moment in someone's life... and to that person, that family, it'll never be "old news."
Wishing Chris the best of luck with his new career! He is an exceptional person who helped my son when he was in need of a living donor for a life saving liver transplant. He came the hospital and did a segment on him an old friend saw this and came forward and donated part of her liver. Chris heard about my son and without hesitation agreed to help. I will forever be grateful to him. Godspeed Chris.
In TV news, a newscast -- at its best -- is a shared experience. We forget that sometimes. Viewers don't.
We will miss seeing you in the mornings but sounds like you are really looking forward to your next chapter in life. I always enjoyed watching you, you always seemed so down to earth. One time that really sticks out is Dec 14th, you were reporting about Newtown and as I sat home and cried watching, it was clear how much it bothered you too. You weren't just giving us a story that night. I'm sure it was tough. Best wishes on your new journey. Job well done, you will be missed.
I can't tell you how grateful I am for posts like those and for all of the kind messages I've received. I've read every one. And I've tried to respond to as many as possible.

As I wrote, many factors have gone into my decision to leave TV news. Knowing I've had an impact on viewers' lives is humbling. I hope you know you've made a difference in my life, too.

Monday, March 9, 2015


They say "change is good."

They also say "change is hard."

I want to let you know about a big change I've decided to make in my work life that will affect every aspect of my life. It's a positive change... but It's going to take some getting used to.

On Friday -- this coming Friday, March 13th -- my alarm will ring at 2:30AM -- as it has pretty much every weekday morning for the last five years -- and I will prepare to anchor Good Morning Connecticut on WTNH/NEWS8 for the last time.

That's because I've decided to leave TV news, after 20 years. It is basically the only career I have ever known. But it is also the career that has prepared me for what's next.

My career has always been about communicating and storytelling. And I will continue to do that, but in a different place, in a different way and at different times of the day. I believe this is what is best for my future and my family.Gaffney Bennett Public Relations recently made me the proverbial "offer I couldn't refuse." As a reporter, I occasionally worked on stories with associates from GBPR. It's a terrific firm of communications professionals. And it's growing. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to bring my perspective and experience to one of the state’s most well-respected agencies. I'll still be sharing important stories with the people of Connecticut, just not on TV every day. I start at Gaffney Bennett at the end of the month.

I have really enjoyed my nearly 15 years at Channel 8. I’ve had the privilege of covering the most significant stories of the last decade and a half. I've had the opportunity to meet some fascinating and inspiring people. I’m proud to have built “Report!t” to become one of the station’s most recognizable brands through the weekly “Report!t Recap” segment. Working at WTNH -- the station I grew up watching -- has been a dream come true for me. I will always value my time there and appreciate the relationships I have developed.

And while I'll miss the people of NEWS8, the people most important to me are going to see me awake a whole lot more often. “Daddy’s sleep schedule" won't dominate the Velardi household anymore and we all look at that as an important component of this decision to take my career in a new direction.

The best part about this transition is that I won't have to move to make it happen. I'm making it at home, here in Connecticut. You’ll still see me at my kids’ games and concerts, supporting the organizations that have become important parts of our lives and serving as the chairman of the Soundview Family YMCA’s board of managers. You'll still see me on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. You just won't see me on TV in the mornings, which will be a transition for all of us. But it's one that I know, in time, is the best move to make for my career and my family.

It’s time for something new.

It's time for a change.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fame - How did #AlexFromTarget Happen?

So this is how the internet works now...

On Sunday, a boy named Alex is working at a Target store in Texas. A girl takes a photo of him and posts it on Twitter. He's cute -- at least this unorganized, yet powerful faction Gawker refers to as "Teen Twitter" thinks he's cute -- so the photo gets shared. A lot. And now #AlexFromTarget is a thing.

Suddenly, Alex is famous -- his Twitter account gains hundreds of thousands of followers. He appears on "Ellen." And, of course, Target embraces this sudden free advertising. Other companies pick up on it by using the hashtag. And why not? But is this just a random example of social media at its most pervasive or is this a calculated marketing campaign?

An internet marketing company called Breakr tried to claim the latter. In fact, the company's CEO wrote a post on LinkedIn in which he seemed to give his company credit for the quickly rising popularity of #AlexFromTarget. But there seem to be some holes in that story.

What's clear is the internet moves fast and what's hot in pop culture changes constantly. Smart marketing companies and alert businesses need to be paying attention. (Remember this from the 2013 Super Bowl?) 

Whether the trend is organically viral or a planned campaign, there's no doubt it can be powerful. But it can also be fleeting. It seems after just a few days, #AlexFromTarget has already worn out his welcome with plenty of people

[I originally wrote this article about #AlexFromTarget for]  

Today's Title: Live forever? No. 15 seconds maybe

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Old Man

This post is gonna make me sound like an old man. The guy who says "when I started in this business..."  a lot. And I'm trying to accept that.

I sat on in some web-training at work today. It was a refresher course for posting news on the television station's website. I'm all for that -- I completely understand the importance of it. You don't have to sell me on the reasons providing online content is crucial for traditional television newsrooms. In my first television job, we'd post our stories on the web -- no video, just text versions -- after the newscast had aired. This was the 1996/97 and it was pretty forward-thinking.

When I started in television (see, there I go), a newsroom's philosophy was "get it on the air first, then, maybe, post it on the (world wide) web." As a reporter, you devoted all your attention to making sure the story "made page" -- which means it was ready when its time came up in the newscast. Now, reporters need to be posting information and photos to twitter and making sure information is available to update the station's website the moment they've information to share. News waits for no one. People who look to us for news (they're not just "viewers" anymore) expect to get that news almost instantly.

Again, I get all that. I agree with all that. The way people get their news and information is changing and we've got to keep up with those changes. My fear is that news becomes less and less about good journalism and strong storytelling and more and more about search engine optimization and getting clicks by using keywords, providing lots of links and posting attention-grabbing photos. I understand the reality: clicks = ad views = money = success. But I hate to see news sites starting to lean on the "click-bait" that seems to be clogging Facebook these days. "Click here to see the rest of the story, you'll never guess what happens next..." 

Call me old fashioned, but I still want to believe "Content" -- not "Click Bait" -- is still "King."

Of course, It probably doesn't help that I still FEEL like an old man (#StupidACL). My recovery from surgery is going well, but it's still pretty painful and the more time I'm spending on my feet, the more swollen and sore my leg gets. It's kind of a vicious cycle -- the better I feel, the more I do... the more I do, the worse I feel... 

Alright.. now that I got all that old guy out of my system, I need to go play a video game. Or post a Snapchat. Or... what are young people even doing these days?!?

Today's Title: This song, released the year I was born, by a guy who's about turn 69-years-old

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Week

It's been one week since I went back to work. And... well... I made it. I mean, I didn't expect anything less -- except for a little while on Wednesday. 

I actually wasn't sure I was going to make it through Wednesday morning's broadcast. If Gil Simmons had offered to cut my leg off, I may have taken him up on it. "Hump Day" was, by far, my hardest day of the week. "Hump Day?? More like Hurt Day!! Amirite?!?!" ... Sorry, that just sounds dumb...

Despite enjoying three weeks of a "normal" sleep schedule, it didn't take too long to get back into the 2:30AM wake-up routine. (It's still early... and I'm  never going to get 8 7 more than 6 hours of sleep.) And the knee was sore, but holding up just fine. Until Wednesday. Man, Wednesday sucked. I could blame Tuesday's fairly intense physical therapy. I could blame spending two days on my feet. I could blame the brace which was keeping me from bending my knee. (It was also likely keeping me from falling on my face, but.. details..) It was probably a combination of all those things. I could not hook myself up to that ice machine fast enough when I got home.

By Thursday, the swelling was down and the leg was feeling better. And today it feels as good as its felt at any point since the surgery. Of course, I've got physical therapy in a bit.. so, who knows? 

So what have we learned?

Some days are better than others. Recovery is freakin' slow. Physical therapy is tough. Ice is nice. I've got to remember to "listen to my body," as I've been told many times. And 2:30 is still really, really early. 

Today's Title: They're neither naked nor are they ladies