Okay, I've been waiting to exhale for some time now…and I finally have!!! Last night was my one week anniversary…and the good news is, I'm still employed! (I think) I've had no problem sleeping in until 7 every morning…and I'm really really enjoying my new gig. There's a lot of excitement here about trying new things, and the people with whom I'm working are terrific-smart and funny and very dedicated to putting on the best product we can. I'm still getting used to the half hour format, but it's gratifying to see how much we can get in…I so often experience information overload, being able to get a recap of the news summarized and synthesized is something I really like...hopefully some viewers feel the same!
Well, it's been a whirlwind. I wish I could say that last Tuesday was just another day at the office -- or just another first day on the job – but it was so much more than that. I woke up more than a few times in the wee hours of that Tuesday morning…and to nobody's surprise, the first day was jam-packed with the excitement and tension that comes with any new job. There were interviews and rehearsals and meetings throughout the day. I felt the usual butterflies in my stomach before the broadcast – actually, the butterflies felt more like gigantic peacocks (but that may have something to do with my last job). For the first time in a long time I actually had the sensation that my heart was going to actually penetrate my chest and end up on the scripts in front of me…it was beating THAT HARD.
There was some celebrating after the broadcast…some of my close friends got together to watch the show and had a martini waiting for me when I arrived at 7:30. I'm not a big drinker, but I have to say, that really hit the spot. But nothing was nicer than seeing my two daughters, probably more relieved than I was, that their mother had not completely embarrassed them on national television. They are so great. There was a little dancing and merriment (whatever that means) before I had to head to Washington to interview the president the next morning. (Good thing they cut me off after one martini!) Another crazy, surreal kind of day.
Needless to say, it was what we call in the business, a crash. (That means there was very little time to put the interview together!) We ran some on the Evening News and a big portion on a special that aired that night. That was done so close to air that the producer, my friend Susan Zirinsky, said her running bra was somewhere between the edit room and the control room.
Add to that my first piece on 60 Minutes on the illnesses that thousands of first responders are experiencing five years after September 11th. To be a part of that broadcast was needless to say, an enormous thrill. My father called me afterwards and said, "Well, you're doing what you've always wanted to do…reporting for 60 Minutes." I used to watch the show when I was in high school sitting on the floor in my parents bedroom. I think it's really what made me want to get into this crazy and wonderful business in the first place. Of course while I was preparing this piece I was in meetings with our producers, going over copy, doing promos, putting my spackle on (it takes a village to make me presentable on television) and helping shape the Evening News. It's really exciting and really fun. I still can't believe I'm privileged enough to have this job. One of the first things I said to the crew when we were rehearsing was…"can I ask you guys a question? How did this happen?" The sign off thing has been fun too. The suggestions are great to read, and as I said last night, even Letterman got into the act. Always happy to provide Dave with material! Bob Barker wants me to implore viewers at the end of every broadcast to "have your pets spayed or neutered." Mmmmmmmmmmmm…interesting.
One of my favorite parts of the day has been recording the First Look segments that run here on the blog, and at CBSNews.com. It's a great chance to show you how we put together the Evening News – and meet some of the amazing people who make it happen. It's such a collaborative effort –and First Look lets you in on part of the collaboration. I think it also gets to show you that gathering the news isn't always grim. We love what we do, and have a great time doing it. (Bill Owens: call your hair stylist!) And that is invaluable. No matter what you do for a living, if you love it and really enjoy the people you're working with, it makes everything worthwhile.
We're trying to make the news more accessible, more compelling, more interesting, and we're trying to give people a little hope, optimism and even a chuckle when we can. Hopefully we're making progress…I also think people who watch the show are less focused on some of the superficialities that media and gossip writers seem to obsess over…and the people who are watching are the reason I'm doing this. I'll be posting more in the days ahead, but I just wanted to touch base and give you a few quick impressions of my first week in the chair, and under the spotlight.
As the late Karen Carpenter sang, "Close to you", I mean, "We've only just begun." Wow, how hip am I?