I drink. I dance. I report.


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World on a String

After the layoffs at KGO radio, I started a new adventure in life. I moved onto my boyfriend’s sailboat with plans to live in the Bay area on a shoestring budget.

I’ve started a new blog to chronicle these life changes, including my trip to Thailand, my hike on the John Muir Trail this summer, and many sailing adventures to come.

Please follow my new website: www.kristinhanes.com 

 


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Feeling Smarter without a Smartphone

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Me and a few other reporters obsessing over our smartphones

Almost one week ago, I handed over my iPhone to KGO management when I was laid off from my job. I’ve been smartphone-less ever since, and have experienced almost every emotion associated with losing a prized and valuable object. An object that’s gotten me from here to there, pointed me toward food when I’m hungry, coffee when I’m tired, and displayed the temperature when I didn’t know what to wear. Our smartphones are intertwined with the fabric of our lives, facilitating the advanced web of communication between us. Texts! Calls! Emails! Facebook! Twitter! Instagram!  Without the iPhone, I felt lost and alone.

Then, I discovered my brain.

In the days since I’ve no longer had a smartphone, I’ve felt my brain growing and learning in ways it hasn’t since school. I have to look at landmarks to find my way around, create maps in my brain of the spaces around me, and drive without Siri’s comforting voice. I’ve even gotten lost a couple of times, and had to use my own wiles to find my way to my destination. I was getting there, old school style.

At first, this felt awful. I had a constant bloom of anxiety in my chest, wondering if I’d get lost, if anyone was trying to reach me, if I was missing some sort if immediate and urgent news. I wanted to check my phone at traffic lights, make calls when I drove, see what was happening on Facebook. I felt shaken inside, and wondered if this is how it feels to be an addict.

But luckily, I didn’t have to completely cold turkey, because I have an iPod touch that works in wifi. I delightfully discovered that I can make phone calls through Google, text to other iPhones, and look up important map information before I leave my house. The only thing different is that I no longer have a little friend that’s hooked up to the world wide web, constantly bothering me to pay it some mind.

A recent New York Times article discussed how much we rely on GPS. That the part of our brains responsible for mapping out our surroundings are actually shrinking. That even cab drivers, who had very advanced internal maps, are now losing this part of themselves as they rely more and more on GPS. So the more we use smartphones, the smaller our brains become. Scary.

I have learned a lot about myself during this week without a smartphone. That I am able. That I don’t have to be in constantcommunictionwitheveryoneatalltimesconstantlyeveryminuteeverysecondeveryday. That I can drive around and use the time to think, or listen to the radio. That coming home, then checking my email is a treat to look forward to. That smartphones are not really a necessary evil.

But despite all this learning and hopefully brain growing, I have ordered another smartphone. I hope my relationship with this one is different. I am choosing a service called Project Fi from Google, where you pay as you go for data, $10 per gig. But if you don’t use data, the phone is only $20 per month for unlimited texts and calls.  I’m hoping the fact that I have to pay to surf convinces me to use my own brain, to figure things out, before immediately going to my phone.

The smartphone culture we now have saddens me. It’s like we’re a bunch of cyborgs looking down, constantly hooked up to the outside world, doing something else. Forget about eye contact or hellos on the street, or even in a bar. We are a society of addicts.

I hope at some point, everyone learns to look up, to grow, to change.


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The Day the News Died: The End of an Era for KGO Radio

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Me doing what I love most in the world

When I was a fresh-faced journalism graduate at 22-years-old, I used to attend Associated Press conferences in Portland, Oregon. I was completely in love with radio, and took classes on writing and editing, listening enraptured with wide-eyes as the teachers played clips from KGO Radio. KGO as an example of creativity and excellence, impeccable writing, witty leads. I still remember one story about saving water in San Francisco, and how the writer creatively played the sound of a shower and himself singing. I was enthralled, and told myself: ” One day, I will work at KGO Radio.”

Eight years later, that day came, and I was nervous the first time I did a liveshot with Bret Burkhart and Chris Bretcher, practically shaking inside with the knowledge that my voice, my voice, was going out over the powerful airwaves of a Bay area powerhouse.  I couldn’t be prouder to work with the people I considered the Greats of Radio News.

My first day working at KGO radio. So proud!

My first day working at KGO radio in 2011. So proud!

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In our newsroom at 900 Front Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly loved my job. I accepted every assignment with the giddiness of a puppy, wanting to do my best and impress my fellow coworkers. When anyone gave me a compliment, I glowed. I still couldn’t believe I was working here, that this was my job, and asked the sound masters Bret Burkhart and Scott Lettieri for tips on how I could improve. I studied their stories with the glee of a college student, wanting to be a master like them.

The KGO glow lasted until the talk show hosts were fired 6 months after I began. I still remember their distressed faces as they packed up boxes, and wondered what KGO radio was trying to do. When they announced we were going wall-to-wall news, I scoffed. Why in the world was such a world-class product trying to compete with a station that already knows how to do wall-to-wall news? Why were we going head-to-head with KCBS, a station that’s cornered the marketplace on 24/7 commercial newsradio?  I had worked at the all-news station KOMO in Seattle, and knew it wasn’t going to work at KGO.

But still, I adored my job. I got to crawl around and inspect both Bay Bridges more times than you can count.

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I practiced my “radio face” while interviewing politicians.

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And I kept my desk and newscar as neat and clean as possible.

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I got to cover the President, the Vice President, and Orlando Bloom, and do human interest and science stories. I felt lucky to work at a radio station that didn’t only value blood and guts, and the “if it bleed it leads” mentality. I felt KGO radio worked hard to truly appeal to and connect with the listener.

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Over the years, KGO radio faltered, and eventually failed. Ratings dropped to precariously low levels. News people walked around the fear of format changes and firings. Cumulus took a chisel and slowly cut away at our news team, getting rid of the South Bay Bureau first. Our world was rocked. KGO radio was dying. With the conglomeration of radio stations, the industry was killing the news.

And on March 31st, 2016, at the end of the quarter and the end of the pay period, Cumulus took us one-by-one into a back room, and killed us off completely. Thursday was a bloodbath, a carnage of news talent, a ripping apart at the seams. In a few hours, the once powerful and mighty KGO radio was nothing but a shell of its former self, computers and editing bays sitting like tombstones in a deathly quiet newsroom.

I wasn’t all that sad for myself, I’ll be okay, but was sad for the state of radio. I was sad about my coworkers, for our rapport in the newsroom was one of a kind. I truly loved the staff. Our banter, the bull-headed voice of our assignment editor, George Ramirez, the laughter over some dirty joke. My coworkers were a class act, and its hard to believe we’ll no longer see each other every day.

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One my way home last night, I turned on KGO radio. I heard tinny music and a bad promo, reminiscent of a small town radio station somewhere in South Dakota. Had the Bay area’s flagship station really turned into this? Had the magnificent, powerful, ever-present KGO level truly sunk down to new lows? I thought of my 22-year-old self, the magic and joy that KGO radio evoked in me, and felt a lump rise in my throat for the end of era.

Even though I lost my job, I have not lost my passion. I will always be a radio news person. I love radio to my core. I will always love radio. The way it creates images, invokes emotions, inspires connection. Radio is a special and storied medium, one that’s survived the decades, where voices have emanated from massive living room sets to alarm clocks to car radios. We must keep radio alive.

Whenever radio people talk about being on air, we say, “Let’s play radio.” To us, radio is fun, a joy, a passion. KGO radio might be dead, but our voices are not.

So let’s play.


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The Snobbery of San Francisco

Last night I ate out at this “trendy” San Francisco sushi restaurant called Umami in the Marina. I’ve been there several times before, and love pairing Scotch and nigiri. The atmosphere is fun and lively, the lighting perfect, the waiters attentive. Last night was packed. People 35-and-under standing around the bar holding cocktails and whiskey and beer.

I had a lot of fun and the food was great, even though I had to shout above the din of the crowd. About halfway through my meal was when I had the Super Snobbified Experience.

I was buzzed from drinking Scotch and headed to the women’s bathroom. Once inside, I heard funny voices coming from the ceiling, so looked around up there to hear where it was coming from. A Japanese word, an English word. I smiled, thinking it was interesting while a couple of women washed their hands.

Then, one of them spoke: “Were you rolling your eyes?” She said it abruptly, eyes hardened, pulling me out of my pleasant Scotch-zone. I saw a pretty, made-up woman about 30-years-old, her brown hair in a ponytail, her designer jeans cuffed at the ankle. “Um, no,” I said, “I heard Japanese and was trying to figure out where it was coming from.” She looked like she wanted to pounce on me, start pulling my hair in a vicious catfight. “Yeah. Right,” she scoffed, sneering at me as she harshly pulled the door open and stalked out.

I stood there a moment, stunned, then started to laugh. Like that pretentious little snob is of ANY interest to me!? Like I’d be rolling my eyes at HER? Like I even CARED about her? I hadn’t even noticed her! It was ludicrous and laughable. When I got back to my table and told my story, my friend said, “That’s the Marina for you.”

And that’s not all of the San Francisco Snobbery. Recently, at Nihon, I was charged $6 per bottle for sparkling water, of which my friend and I drank three bottles. $18,….for WATER?? When I got the bill I was shocked, and told the manager I thought that was too much for water. He said, “People come in here all the time and spend $5,000 on dinner. We think it’s tacky to mention the price of the sparkling water.”  Umm…..thanks. Like I could ever come in here and spend that much on a meal. Really? That was your excuse? I will not be visiting Nihon again.

What is happening to the bohemian, hippie City by the Bay? Sure, there are still lots of restaurants and people who are not snobby, but two experiences like this within a couple of weeks is just too much. Is San Francisco getting more and more snobby?


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In which I’m trying hard not to suck at editing

When I was in college at the University of Oregon I loved editing video. I spent hours and hours making music videos, mock “news stories”, short documentaries, etc.  I loved the creativity, the visuals, timing cuts to music. I had a blast. When I went into radio, I pretty much forgot about video, until recently.

A couple weeks ago I bought a small camera that records in HD, fits in my purse, puts files on an SD card, and is battery-powered. I carry it everywhere. I brought it to Portland and Napa Valley. I’m re-learning how to edit video, and the first video is so bad, it’s funny. Here we are enjoying a Karma Citra IPA from Cascade Barrel House at Roadside Attraction in Portland, Oregon. Don’t you love the way my cuts are chopped off, and the still photo in the middle of the screen?

Next, I edited a video drinking HUB IPA at Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon. I’m getting “slightly” better at editing with this one, but still have a lot of work to do. I need more establishing shots for cutaways, but I had a blast double-fisting.

It’s amazing how much work goes into editing a short video. These took me hours, but that’s partly because I’m still learning how to use Premiere Pro. The last video we shot in Napa Valley, and it took 3 or 4 hours for a 3 minute video! Ridiculous! Part of the problem was the splash in the beginning…that took awhile but was a blast to learn.

I’m having a ton of fun doing this so far! I want to make videos about everything and anything. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions!


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Is 30 the new 60?

I started the New Year in California just one month before my 30th birthday. Since then, I have had the worse sore throat in years, a night of ferocious vomiting, sore eyeballs, a sore back that required daily aspirin, and a migraine that made me dizzy and confused. On my second day of work, I had to call in sick. Then, on that fateful night of barf, I had to call in sick a second time. I hardly ever call in sick. I think my last year of work at KOMO Newsradio I called in one time. What is wrong with me?

I’m not sure what’s causing me to feel crappy, but I have a couple of guesses. #1) Not eating right. While trying to navigate my new nightside hours (3:30pm-11:30pm), I’ve had a hard time getting into the swing of cooking. Before, I liked to cook in the evenings as light began to melt from the sky, drinking a glass of wine. Now I grocery shop in the mornings and cook in the bright sunshine of afternoon. And wine before work? Not so much a good habit. So, I’ve been eating way too many Lean Cuisines, not enough fruits and vegetables, and not enough Oregon beer.

#2) Not exercising. I’ll also blame this one on my schedule, but mostly have to blame myself. I’ve gotten into a funny rut of waking up late, having coffee, meeting David for lunch, then immediately going to work. Sometimes, we walk a couple blocks, but this is nothing compared to the 5 days per week of tennis we played on Bainbridge Island, or the 4 miles per day I’d often walk in Portland, or the 5 miles I’d ride my bike in Portland to work at Mom’s business.

Some people have suggested I’m pregnant (I’m not.) Others say I’m just getting old (I think/hope they’re teasing).  I know I’m not getting old. 30 is hardly old. But I am a little perplexed why suddenly, the year of 2011, my 30th year, I’ve felt more crappy than I have in years.

I’m getting better here in California. Last week, I cooked, but I didn’t exercise. Tomorrow we are joining a gym, where hopefully I’ll do yoga and run and swim and healthy stuff like that. I bought fruit and made one smoothie. Today I ate a salad for dinner. A few days ago I ate some carrots. I’ve found some good California IPA. And I’m feeling happier than I have in weeks as the homesickness slowly melts away, and I find fun and interesting places to explore in Northern California.

Hopefully this is the new start of my 30th year, when I’ll no longer feel like an out-of-shape senior citizen with achy bones and a weak immune system. Cheers to a healthy 2011! (Where’s that Racer Five?)


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Getting used to California

So, I’ve been hard on California’s Central Valley, namely, Davis and Sacramento. It would have been easy for me to move here if I was from somewhere like, Mobile, Alabama, or the outback of North Dakota, or the pasty, brown flatness that is Ohio. But no, I came from somewhere teeming with culture, with air perfumed with pine needles and rain, winding rivers, snow-capped mountains, and all the beer and tango you’d ever need. So, I was hard on the Central Valley, and didn’t really give it my all.

Now that I’ve been a few places in Sacramento, I can see that it’s not all bad. I’ve found some really cool live music venues, wonderfully friendly tango dancers and a few good beers (just have to look.) Yes, Sacramento’s version of “The Pearl” or “Northwest” is flat and spread out, but once you know where to look there are some good restaurants and bars. Plus, this week is Sacramento Beer Week, and I’m planning on giving Northern California beers a chance.

The scenery here is somehow muted compared to Oregon. The colors are less vibrant, the air not as perfumed, the water not as good. But, it has its deserty beauty, which I’m trying to get used to. Most of the houses in Davis are made of either wood or stucco, and most have vaulted ceilings and not a lot of windows (to keep out excruciating summer heat). I like that we have an open floorplan, but our house can’t compare to the cute vintage one in Ladd’s.

Our house in Davis

One thing I really like about this house is the kitchen. It’s the biggest kitchen I’ve had, with plenty of counter space and a huge butcher block/cutting board. It’s too bad I haven’t used it much; I’ve had a hard time getting into the swing of cooking with my swing-shift hours.

The kitchen

The floorplan here is very open. From the kitchen, I can look through the dining room to the living room. My desk looks outside at our very “California” back yard, which is a small stone patio, and a “yard” filled with barkdust and native California plants. It’s pretty, in its California way.

View into backyard (yes! that's a palm!)

There’s a gate in the backyard that leads to miles of greenbelt behind our house, which is one of my favorite parts of Davis. It’s always busy with bikers and walkers, so I feel safe going alone. Follow me, I’ll show you what the vegetation is like out on the greenbelt.

Lots of green space in the green belt

Tropicana California

A lemon tree!!

Lemons ready to be picked! (a huge deal for an Oregonian)

The pine trees here look very different from the NW rainforest

Something crazy out of Dr. Seuss!

So, as you can see, the vegetation is pretty diverse and interesting here. Yesterday on my walk I saw a lemon tree, and orange tree and a grapefruit tree, which is very unique for someone from Oregon. There are also pomegranates, all types of nuts, and fruit orchards everywhere. No wonder farmland stretches like stitched blankets every which way.

So, here is where I live, in Davis, California. Weird where life takes us. I never imagined I’d be living in Northern California, 70 miles from San Francisco, 90 miles from Lake Tahoe, 3 hours from Yosemite. There’s lots to explore here, and so I better take advantage of it before the 110 degree summer!