Super Bowl XLV

The man behind the scenes

February 6th, 2011 at 6:31 am by under Super Bowl XLV
Thomas, our fatastic satellite truck operator

Thomas, our fatastic satellite truck operator

I wanted to give a shout out to the man who’s been making most of our live reports from North Texas run smoothly.

Thomas works at our sister station, KXAN in Austin, Texas. His job all week has been to drive the truck around to the live locations, park the giant truck, tune in the satellite, check video and audio, set everything up before the show and tear it down after. Oh, and we’ve been going live starting at 5 am, with our last shot ending at 10 pm – every day. He has done most of them, with help from Dave, another fantastic gentleman from KXAN.

Through it all, Thomas has been great. He’s a funny, easygoing guy who’s very good at what he does.

So thanks Thomas and Dave, and thanks KXAN!

Finally, GOOD weather news! And a family visit.

February 5th, 2011 at 6:52 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

After all my posts about bad weather, I figured I’d better say something about today’s weather. It was very pleasant by the afternoon, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s.

The crowd at a Packers pep rally at J. Gilligan's Bar and Grill in Arlington

It made for a festive atmosphere at J. Gilligan’s, a bar/restaurant not far from Rangers Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium. The bar hosted a pep rally for Packers fans which featured speeches by Gov. Scott Walker and Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. A few hundred fans showed up, and they are definitely ready to roll! It should be a fun atmosphere at the game tomorrow.

On a more personal note, I was able to visit with some Texas family. My uncle Tom Zielinski and his son Zach, who live near Dallas, stopped out to the party. It was good to catch up with them and take a little break from work.

Game day is almost here and the excitement is definitely building!

My cousin Zach and my uncle Tom stopped by the pep rally.

Getting around Dallas

February 5th, 2011 at 12:36 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

What did we ever do before GPS?

You may have caught my story on Thursday night about people using mobile devices to find their way around town. (If you missed the story, you can see it here.) The idea for the story was born of experience – mine. Driving around any big city’s downtown can be difficult, but I’ve found Dallas especially confusing. Besides the typical abundance of one-way roads, there are a lot of streets that seem to veer off at angles, making it difficult to determine which way to go to stay on the road. Plus, as I remarked to Paige Pearson last night while we were driving to the location for the FOX 11 News at Five and Nine, it seems like every traffic light is red when you come up to it. Add in icy and snowy roads, and it makes for a tough time getting around.

Enter my smartphone.

I’ve only had it since June, and, while I knew it had Google Maps, I didn’t know if it had turn-by-turn directions. Monday morning, I didn’t have time to try to find out, and I was late for my first live shot in Fort Worth. I must have gone about four different directions on the interstate by the time I figured out which highway I needed to be on. Luckily, I discovered my phone does in fact have turn-by-turn navigation, and the rest of the week has been much smoother.

It’s amazing how much power people are carrying around in their hands now. And how much it changes. Just a year or two ago, most people would have needed a separate GPS unit for their cars. Now, it comes standard on a lot of phones.

It’s truly a changing world.

Backing the Pack on social media

February 5th, 2011 at 8:21 am by under Super Bowl XLV

Happy Super Bowl Eve!

I wanted to share a link with you. It’s an analysis of how people are talking about the Packers and Steelers on social media. According to this, the Packers are getting just a bit more attention – but it’s a lot more positive than the what people are saying about Pittsburgh.

A good sign?

The weather…again

February 4th, 2011 at 3:16 pm by under Super Bowl XLV, Weather

I know I said I’d tone it down about the weather, but it just continues to be a big story here in Dallas.

The Fort Worth Stock Yards woke up to a fresh coat of snow.

We were forecast to get a half-inch to an inch of snow today. In reality, we probably got that much overnight, and flurries are still falling here at almost 3 p.m.

It was quite the drive for me out to Fort Worth this morning. Fort Worth is about a 40-mile drive west from downtown Dallas, and I had to be in place at 6:30 a.m. So that meant a really early start.

There weren’t a lot of cars on Interstate 30, which is a six-lane road between Dallas and Fort Worth. Some of bolder drivers were moving at about 40 miles per hour or so,  but others had their flashers on and were going 25 miles per hour or less.

A look out the window at the White Elephant Saloon gives this sign an ironic twist

What’s normally about a 45-50 minute drive took me more than an hour on the way there. On the way back, it took close to an hour and a half with rush-hour traffic.

Still, today’s snow wouldn’t have posed much of a problem in Wisconsin. The difference is, plows and road salt are apparently in very limited supply here in Texas. So whatever snow falls stays on the ground. To make things worse, there is still a layer of ice on many roads from Tuesday’s storm.

Besides the precipitation is the cold. It’s still cold outside -  cold even by Wisconsin standards. The thermometer in my car read 19 degrees as I got in the car to head back to Dallas.

Who knew I should have packed a snow brush?

Still, we had a fun time at our live shots this morning. We went to the Historic Stock Yards area of Fort Worth. Basically, it’s a bunch of really old shops and, as the name suggests, a livestock yard in the old part of town.

Chuck at Fincher’s White Front Western Wear was a lot of fun, and he even showed us how the creases are put in cowboy hats.

We then moved over to the White Elephant Saloon, where kitchen manager Rockland Mann made us feel right at home. That’s another fun, historic place – it was the scene of a shootout in the frontier days.

Rockland said it best – this Texas weather comes out of nowhere. It can be beautiful one day and miserable the next.

Wait, where have I heard that before?

The view from my hotel window Friday morning

Rachel Manek and Photojournalist Mike Raasch get ready to tell Northeast Wisconsin about the weather in Texas

I thought this sign might have been an omen for Sunday

Video Blog: A Tour of Radio Row

February 4th, 2011 at 1:19 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

We’ve done quite a few stories on “Radio Row” this week, but I wanted to let you have an unedited tour to get a feel for the room. Here it is:

And yes, I realize now that the person sitting next to Hugh Jackman was Sugar Ray Leonard. I couldn’t place the face initially.

Edit: Of course, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx and Herschel Walker showed up after I shot the video.

Adam Sandler moves through Radio Row

Jamie Foxx (L) and Herschel Walker

Old friends

February 4th, 2011 at 8:10 am by under Super Bowl XLV

One of the neat things about the TV business is that it’s a very small world. And when you’re at a big media event like the Super Bowl, you’re bound to run into a lot of people you know.

Of course, we’ve seen the crews from the other Green Bay stations quite a bit. Plus crews from Milwaukee and other parts of the state.

I’ve also seen a few former colleagues. The young lady in the picture below is Kara Kenney, whom I worked with in Wausau. She’s now a fantastic investigative reporter in Indianapolis. She’s following around the host committee for Super Bowl XLVI, which will be held in Indy.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be covering the Packers there, too.


Dallas at night

February 4th, 2011 at 6:59 am by under Super Bowl XLV

Sorry for the lack of posts yesterday. I had one all written at the NFL Experience, but I lost my phone signal, so I couldn’t post it.

(As an aside, I’d just like to say I love the WordPress apps for both Android and BlackBerry. If you’re a blogger, I’d definitely recommend them.)

Anyway, here are some shots of downtown Dallas from last night. It’s really too bad the weather’s been downright frigid. I think there would be a lot of cool stuff going on outside.


Thoughts on Dealey Plaza

February 3rd, 2011 at 11:38 am by under Super Bowl XLV

The Kennedy assassination.

Few events of the 20th century evoke as much emotion, controversy and questions.

Dealey Plaza and the former Texas School Book Depository building

Yesterday, I went along with the FOX 11 crew that visited Dealey Plaza and The Sixth Floor Museum, the site of the assassination.

We first checked in at the museum, which, as its name indicates, is located on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository building. (Most of the building is currently a county administration building.) Investigators believe Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots from a corner window on the sixth floor on November 22, 1963. The area from where Oswald shot is enclosed in glass, while boxes of textbooks have been placed in a recreation of the “sniper’s nest” that was found after the shooting. While it’s not possible to look out the same window Oswald looked out of (in the photo to the right, it’s on the far right, second from the top), visitors can look down on Dealey Plaza from the next window over.

The rest of the museum includes exhibits on topics such as how news of President Kennedy’s death spread, a look at the camera Abraham Zapruder used to record the famous film footage of the shooting, Kennedy’s legacy and, of course, conspiracy theories. (For the record, it was clear from talking to the curator that he accepts the official finding that Oswald was the lone gunman). On the seventh floor is an exhibit on Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who fatally shot Oswald.

FOX 11 Photojournalist Don Steffens and Reporter Laura Smith interview a visitor to The Sixth Floor Museum

Visitors are generally not allowed to take photos inside the building, however, news crews were allowed to take limited pictures. I was able to put together a photo gallery, which you can see by clicking here.

Moving outside to Dealey Plaza, I was struck by the austerity of the place. The only indications that it was the site of one of the most transformational events in American history are a small historical marker on the curb and a marker painted on the pavement at the spot where the fatal shot hit the President.

The rest of the plaza is more or less an open, grassy area that’s easily recognizable from photographs or documentaries you might have seen. The only buildings on the site are three WPA-era structures on the north, south and east sides, commemorating the founding of Dallas. The underpass that the presidential motorcade famously sped through on the way to the hospital still exists. As the curator told us, aside from a few street lights having been moved and the natural growth of trees, Dealey Plaza has changed little since 1963.

An "X" marks the spot where the fatal shot hit President Kennedy

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the place, except for its history. But the place’s importance in history can’t be overstated.

What if President Kennedy had not been assassinated? Would history remember him as kindly? Would the rest of the 1960s have been as turbulent? What would America’s involvement in Vietnam have been? And how would Americans have viewed the war differently?

And those questions are completely separate from the question of why did the assassination happen in the first place? Was it the act of a single person whose reasons died with him in the basement of the police station? Or was it a larger conspiracy meant to redefine world events?

Historical marker at Dealey Plaza.

Historical marker at Dealey Plaza

People searching for answers will find few clues at Dealey Plaza. Still, it is the site of an event which was immediately an integral part of our nation’s history. Seeing it first-hand can be a bit eerie if you stop to think about it, but it was an amazing experience to be at the location where the world changed that November day more than 47 years ago.

Inside the Huddle: Super Bowl edition

February 2nd, 2011 at 6:52 pm by under Super Bowl XLV

I’m standing in the House of Blues in downtown Dallas as we tape special episode of Inside the Huddle.

The crowd is really pumped here for the Packers’ Super Bowl trip. There are about a hundred people here – and just about everyone is dressed in green and gold.

Our guests are Packers WR James Jones and former DT Santana Dotson, who played on the Packers’ last Super Bowl championship team in 1996.

You can watch this week’s Inside the Huddle tomorrow night (Thursday) at 5:30 on FOX 11.

Until then, enjoy these behind-the-scenes photos.