Friday night on People TV

We twisted our way through downtown, into the appropriate parking lot, and signed in. Brian was in the green room, and after a few minutes of discussion, we headed for the studio. For some reason, I expected quiet, but then I remembered that this was a live show, and that my expectation was - insane.

On the other side of the door, I found myself facing an older gentleman with a wide smile and a strong Caribbean accent. "Dey's no accidents in TV. You's here, you have to contribute. You gonna help on camera?"

I clutched my notebook. Oh, no. No camera for me. How in the world would I manage to have time to write notes if I was operating a camera? I tried to turn the same color as the black wall before I realized that I carried no chameleon genes. I managed to escape, but Jeff did not.

"You's a-gonna help on camera, sir." Not a question.

"I've run VHS before, but not this."

From the back, a voice bellowed, "Ten minutes to air!" (Apparently it was time for Jeff to learn.)

"Put this headset on. You'll be able to hear me. Don't worry about anyone else. Here's how you do it. Pan left...pan right...zoom in...zoom out...and lock in when you get what you want to see."

Jeff put on the headset. "Is there a common channel or am I on my own channel?"

The producer shook his head. "No. You'll be Camera One."

More yelling: "Five minutes to air! Four minutes to roll tape!"

Brian and his partner prepped for air, straightening clothing and hair. At the yell of "Sound check, Brian!" he responded "Blah blah blah, blah blah blah! Blah...blah, blahblahblah."

Tim, his partner, gave a sound check full of quacking.

"Camera Three, give me Brian full. Three minutes to air."

"Roll tape."

"Tape is rolling."


The man with the Caribbean accent was typing in names on a screen next to the producer. Belatedly, I realize he was creating credits for the end of the show. I might not be doing anything besides taking notes at the moment, but he was determined to get my name on the end credits.

I spelled my name for him, amused that I was being credited for doing nothing but scribbling my own notes. I spelled Jeff's name, and he was duly credited as a cameraman.

Meanwhile, all hell was breaking loose with the sound. "You should see it banging red every now and then! If it doesn't bang red you've got problems! I think that godawful noise is coming from Tim's mic..."

Brian could undoubtedly hear the yelling through his earpiece, but continued speaking smoothly over the din: "You are watching 'Tech Support' on People TV."

Thirty minutes later, the show was over. A good night - a caller with a good question, and no unexpected nudity or obscenities. Brian, still high on show adrenalin, made comments about controlling the viewers' televisions: "We control the vertical...we control the horizontal...We can even make it snow - jingle bells! jingle bells!"

Jeff and I looked at each other in amusement. When no one was looking, I scribbled it down before I forgot.

Props were gathered up, and the studio tidied for the next show. The four of us chatted for a while, then made our excuses and fled to Doc Chey's for a hearty round of noodles.

Brian wants me on next Friday's show. We'll see.

Until then, that's a wrap.


Actually, I don't have an earpiece. I hear the technical director because (a) the headset on an unmanned camera is turned up too loud, or (b) he's really loud.

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