Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 2006 Magnificent River Rats Festival

Something a little different for my radio experiment today.  Well, I guess it's not really an experiment, because I actually went out and did it on the radio.

Today marks a very special day for me.  For today is my 6th anniversary of living and working in Athabasca.  When I first started here on April 24, 2006, I was not the wacky  morning guy that I am today, but instead, I was an intrepid reporter, working in the newsroom.

I had a somewhat contentious relationship with news when I was going to NAIT.  I knew from the outset that I didn't want to do news for my radio career.  When you do the news, you spend a lot of time running...a lot of time chasing.  You're chasing stories, you're chasing leads, you're chasing down people to interview...you're always on the move.  And my impressive gut should be proof enough that I don't like to run.

But even though I didn't want to do it, I was good at it.  Or at least, that's what my news prof kept telling me.  She was always encouraging me to go into news.  As my time drew to an end, her gentle nudges were starting to turn into forceful shoves.  Back then, I was still passionate about writing, too, and figured a good way to pick up a few extra dollars would be by writing for the school paper.  I mean, hey, I was chasing down and writing news stories anyway for news class...why not get paid for it?  I remember impressing my writing prof one day because, I was facing my deadline, and in writing class, during the 15 minute break, while most everyone went outside for a smoke, I sat down and started frantically writing my contractually-obligated three news stories for the paper.  When the paper came out a couple days later, my writing prof was impressed.  Not by the fact that I wrote all three news stories in 15 minutes, but that I wrote them in 15 minutes and they were good.  As her final act to convince me to go into news, my news prof sat me down and said, "Between what you've done in the paper and what you've done in news class, any radio newsroom will see you as an asset."

In retrospect, I really, really, REALLY should have listened to her.  After NAIT began the period I like to refer to as "The Great Year of Unemployment," as I pounded the pavement, looked for announcing gigs, and getting turned down left and right.  But, at the end of my rope, as the Great Year was drawing to an end, that's when I started applying for news gigs.  And I got callbacks.  And I got interviews.  And I got hired to go to Athabasca.

It's always tough when you move to a new town and your job is to do the news.  I mean, how can you tell people what happened today when you don't know anyone or what's going on?  So it always takes some time to get up and running.  But luckily, I did have one big thing coming up on the horizon...Athabasca's Magnificent River Rats Festival.

Covering the development and the planning of the festival was always a good story.  And then, when the festival came, I was in love with it.  I knew I had to do something special with my news coverage, and that led to doing the kind of radio news that you don't get to do too often in a small market...the kind that's elaborately produced with ambient background noise.

I was a little worried about how this news story would be perceived by some of my colleagues...when I first started, I had a co-worker who told me that the mere concept of interviewing people was too "hard-hitting" for a small market.  But I went and did it anyway, and when I sent out the story to the sister stations, I did get a couple of e-mails back from my fellow newshounds saying that they loved it and they ran it in their own newscasts.

But perhaps the greatest compliment was when I sent it to my news prof to show off how I was doing in the real world, and asked the humble question, "So, umm, would this be something I put on my demo?"  And she replied with two words:  "FUCK YES."

So, here then, to celebrate my 6th anniversary in Athabasca, is my news coverage of the 2006 Magnificent River Rats Festival.

The Magnificent River Rats Festival 2006 by Mark Cappis

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