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 wtnh.com]  

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."
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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

Monday, October 20, 2014

The First Time in Forever

Okay, maybe not the first time in forever... but for the first time in October, I got up at 2:30AM and went to work this morning. Three weeks is the longest I'd ever been away from work, so I wasn't sure how re-entry would be. It was pretty unremarkable.

By the way, how weak am I? Using the title of a song from "Frozen" as the title of this post... hoping to steal a few "clicks" from fans of the movie who get linked here by Google. (Oh, hello fans of Elsa and Anna... thanks for dropping by!) 


Anyway, today I went back to work. And in most ways, it's like I never left. If you watched, you saw I was using a crutch. (You could argue I use verbal "crutches" on TV all the time, but I digress.) We stand on Good Morning CT, so the crutch was a necessary companion. I just can't put a lot of pressure on that leg. I'm at the point now where I'm dealing with kind of a vicious cycle. The better I feel, the more I do... the more I do, the more my leg hurts. I have a feeling that'll be the case for awhile. I'm trying to listen to the oft-repeated advice I've heard recently: "Take it slow... Don't try to do too much... Go easy on yourself." I'm trying...

Unfortunately, this morning's news was not so pleasant. I guess that's usually the case... maybe I just noticed it more since I've been off for a little while. We were covering several "death investigations" from the weekend. And I found myself saying "Ebola" this morning, far more frequently than I'd said it during the three weeks I wasn't on television. I guess news is gonna news... (Or should that be "newz is gonna newz..."?)

Finally, a thank you to my coworkers who seemed genuinely happy to welcome me back this morning. Either you guys really did miss me... or you are a fine bunch of thespians. And a great thanks to the many people who emailed, tweeted and facebooked (that is a verb, right?) me to say nice things about my return. Sometimes I forget how many people make me and the GMCT part of their mornings. I -- we -- really appreciate that. Talking to you beats talking to ourselves...

Today's Title: Okay Frozen fans, here's your song


Friday, October 17, 2014

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted

I've been complaining a lot lately about how difficult it's been to, well, do pretty much everything. My leg hurts, the immobilizer is uncomfortable, crutches are inconvenient. Doing simple things has been hard. Just standing up has been painful. But you know what I've realized? ... I've really got nothing to complain about.

I've already turned the corner. I'm driving again, so in the last 24 hours I've taken my daughter to her guitar lesson, gone to the grocery store, gotten my haircut and gone to the dentist. So, you know, really taking advantage of my freedom. On second thought, maybe driving again is overrated. And on Monday morning -- or more accurately, sometime overnight Sunday into Monday -- my alarm will go off and I'll be going back to work. 

Here's the thing, life is getting back to normal for me... as opposed to this becoming my new normal. I've had a lot of time to think (daydream, ponder, theorize, imagine, consider, etc) while I've been sitting here for the last 19 days.. and as my mobility has been limited and my ability to do the things I'm used to doing has been compromised, I've thought a lot about those who are struggling with health challenges far greater than mine. Far, far greater... long-term health challenges. Like, not even close... like, stop your whining Velardi. 

Look, I know I don't have to, but I feel like I should say it write it -- I've been blogging, posting on facebook and tweeting... not to complain, but to tell the story of my recovery. I thought it might be interesting to share how a regular guy, a weekend warrior-type who isn't an elite athlete, recovers from a surgery like this. 

There's a light shining very clearly at the end of this, yes, painful.. yes, frustrating.. yes, inconvenient.. but yes, ultimately temporary tunnel. And inside this tunnel, I've learned how easy it can be to take things for granted.

Today's Title: I can't believe this song is 21 years old

Monday, October 13, 2014

Strong Enough

As in, "Your leg isn't..."

I didn't really expect my physical therapist to say anything other than that today. Still, it kinda sucked to hear her tell me my leg isn't strong enough yet to walk without crutches and/or the immobilizer. I mean it hasn't even been two weeks since surgery... Still, I was hoping to hear, "Chris, you're healed. Your leg is as strong as a super hero's. In fact, you're ready to walk... to run... to dance like that crazy kid at the baseball game."

I've been going to PT twice a week (insurance only pays for so many, otherwise I'd go every day) and I've been doing my exercises at home. Tightening the quads, lifting the leg, balancing on the leg, straightening the leg, bending the knee. It's a long way from an "Insanity" workout. (Then again, I'm a long way from an "Insanity" workout.) In fact it's dreadfully tedious and boring. But it's important. I know that. I've heard it 47-Million times (I'm rounding up) -- the physical therapy is crucial and the recovery is going to take a long time. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not the most patient patient. But I'm trying... 

So much of it is mental. I mean of course, there's pain. Like, a lot of pain. Bending the knee can be excruciating. I try not scream when the physical therapist is testing the limits of my flexibility. But I can do it. It sounds weird, but straightening the leg is even more of a mental challenge. When I get to that point where my leg is fully extended, I get this fear that my knee is going to buckle and bend the wrong way. The physical therapist assures me it won't and I suppose she's got the credentials, so I'll believe her...

Am I making progress? Yes. Am I getting more flexible? Of course. Am I getting stronger? Sure. Just not as quickly as I'd like. And apparently that's something every patient says. Patients with no patience... go figure.

Today's Title: It was either this or Sheryl Crow

Friday, October 10, 2014

Video Killed the Radio Star

I've been watching a lot of radio during the last week and a half, as I've become one with my couch. No - I'm not delirious from the pain meds (not completely delirious, anyway) -- I typed that correctly. I've been watching a lot of radio. 

There is a lot of radio on television -- particularly sports talk radio. Mike and Mike (ESPN2), Boomer and Carton (CBS Sports Network), Dennis and Callahan (NESN), Dan Patrick (NBC Sports Network), Colin Cowherd (ESPNU), SVP & Russillo (ESPN News), Mike Francesa (Fox Sports 1), Michael Kay (YES), Doug Gottlieb (CBS Sports Network), Paul Finebaum (SEC Network) -- it is the perfect daytime space-filler for the 947 sports networks on cable TV. They've got live games at night. They've got to do something during the day. And sports talk radio is already there. You can argue that radio is dead (or alive and kicking), but sports talk has certainly found a niche on cable TV. It's also almost exclusively white and middle-aged... but that's a topic, perhaps, for another time.

I love radio -- always have. I learned so much about broadcasting -- so much about life -- in the greatest media classroom while a student at Syracuse University. The lessons I learned working at Z89, I still lean on today. Same with the friends I made there. While I was still in college, I turned an internship with the "Glenn and Pat" morning show -- yeah, that Glenn -- into a summer job at KC101. One of the great things about radio -- throwing on a hat and sweatshirt, showing up at work and talking into a microphone. When I did radio, I didn't have to worry about hair and makeup... though, I usually did. Well, at least the hair... I always worried about the hair. 

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A quick update on the ACL recovery...

Things are moving along pretty well. When I'm sitting with my leg elevated and iced, it feels great. When I'm up and moving around, it's still pretty sore. The doctor says the leg looks good; the physical therapists say the leg is getting stronger. I'm still wearing the immobilizer, but I'm able to walk shuffle around a little with no crutches. (I know Dr. Kelley is shaking his head at me right now.) I still usually use at least one crutch so I don't put too much pressure and weight on the injured leg. I'm also doing my physical therapy -- squeeze the quads, lift the leg, bend the knee. Boring, but important work. 

Today's Title: The answer to an MTV trivia question