The Sebastian Kunz Radio Archives, volume 7: News On Yer PalmPilot
“These days, it’s the logo on the nightly news. But at the time… it was “Gasp! Gasp! Gasp!”
— Nicholas Meyer, director, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Nicholas Meyer there is talking about The Genesis Tape during the DVD commentary of Star Trek II. The tape, that explains the Genesis Project and device, was really one of the earliest uses of computer graphics (known today as CGI) in any film. The people that created the Genesis Tape in Star Trek II would go on to form Pixar Animation.
And what Meyer said back in 2002 or so… is true even in 2017; there are in fact higher-resolution digital renderings of planet Earth on MANY nightly newscasts’ animation sequences.
But in 1982? It was really… REALLY… something.
PLANTING MY FLAG
In 2006, about six months after I’ve been hired at Clear Channel, I am itching to show them I am something special.
Sure, I’ve just made it to the major leagues. But now isn’t the time to kick back. I am a roommate in a house with two other guys in Santa Clara. I am a standby, fill-in part-timer with no real dedicated hours.
With JUST barely enough paid time in my first six months to cover the cost of my monthly train ticket, I am around the newsroom bullpen at Clear Channel SF… JUST enough… to become aware of certain things. Yes, there are news and traffic shifts that are the primary bread and butter of the news and traffic reporters. The newsroom is occupied starting at just before 6am all day until 7pm. The traffic producers are there 24/7.
But you hear about certain things; Extra features which are at once a pain in the ass of the full-time staffers who do them, yet also the only real creative outlet anyone here has.
So, I have some time to kill.
Then again, it’s entirely my own time.
In fact, both the trip to the NASA Ames Research Center (to interview the scientist) and the time spent on Windows Moviemaker (to construct an online video version of my SF in :60 audio feature) are MY time. That is to say, unpaid.
But, at this time, all that is really happening as far as downloadable digital content is … uploading the audio of this feature, SF In Sixty, to the web.
I’ve got the chance to REALLY wow them.
SF IN SIXTY
SF In Sixty is the roughly-sixty-second commentary feature of John Scott’s Progressive News Hour on 960 The Quake, KQKE-AM Oakland, the angry, fist-pounding, liberal Air America network affiliate.
When I first began in February or March 2006, I’m pretty sure the Progressive News Hour was in the morning, like at 6am. Al Franken was also a part of the national program lineup prior to his running for office.
There’s a thread on a web site called RadioDiscussions.com * (see footnote) dated May of 2006, with a “new” program lineup for 960 The Quake, effective November 6, 2006.
6AM — 9AM Stephanie Miller
9AM — 12N Thom Hartmann
12N — 3PM Ed Schultz
3PM — 5PM Rachel Maddow
5PM — 6PM Progressive News Hour
6PM — 9PM Mike Malloy
9PM — 11PM Randi Rhodes
11PM — 12AM Eco Talk w/ Betsy Rosenberg
12AM — 3AM Lionel
3AM — 6AM Bill Press
There we are: the five o’clock news, basically, between Rachel and Mike Malloy.
Anyway, in 2017, audio stories turned into visual montages will not at all be uncommon.
They might even seem a touch “homegrown.” That was the adjective occasionally applied to so many of my radio-features-turned-internet-videos…
Like a pot plant, I suppose. :/
WITH TECHNOLOGY NOW OBSOLETE
Excitedly-interviewing a scientist or researcher would later become one of my favorite “real” things about my radio show, The Week on 960: geeking out that I’m covering a science story deeper, more robustly than the mainstream guys ever could.
But in 2006, having booked an interview with a scientist, having gone to NASA myself, in-person (practically all interviews then were in-studio or via telephone)… having completed my very first “SF in Sixty” audio feature… as a fill-in part-timer…
All that is decently impressive.
But, in 2006, having used Windows Moviemaker to convert fifteen or twenty still photos into a montage… with my audio feature playing as the audio…
THAT… is unprecedented.
I’m in the newsroom, doing the usual: my one day per week of news, weather, and traffic.
I pull out my iPaq.
The iPaq is the PalmPilot-style device from ComPaq. It runs the little PalmPilot-device version of Windows.
You know, at a time when PalmPilots and ComPaq are… things.
But, as I prepped the 1pm newscast, I remember going to my boss and asking her if she wanted to SEE… my SF in Sixty feature.
I remember playing it and I remember her going nuts. She gently took my device and left the newsroom for a while… it may have been an hour or so before I saw it again.
I found out later that I’d been trying to impress people who were already impressed with me… they just were trying to find a place for me in this big corporate radio structure.
I was filling in for a guy, one day per week.
He’d soon leave for a five-year stint at the Wall Street Journal doing… exactly what I’d just blown everyone away with: little web video extras and features and so on.
It’s not as if he stole anything from me. Everyone would soon be taking digital cameras and making web videos.
But I’m pretty sure, there, south of Market, San Francisco… in 2006…
I’m pretty sure, I was first.
Plus, it’s only a minute or so.
Enjoy “What’s Next For NASA: SF in Sixty, from 960 The Quake, KQKE-AM Oakland / San Francisco, from 2006.