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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You can’t trust the walk sign in San Francisco

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Another day, another pedestrian hit by a car in San Francisco. The newsroom is on fire right now, producers yelling, a reporter running out the door to make her way to California and Fillmore streets. Here is the Tweet that just crossed from KGO Radio.

KGO Radio@kgoradio 1m BREAKING: Elderly pedestrian hit by a vehicle near California and Fillmore in #SanFrancisco. Details to come.

Now I’m hearing it was a cement truck.

Just last night, a teenage boy was hit. A couple weeks before that, a man killed in the same location. We’re less than two months into 2014, and already, several people have died. Toward the end of 2013, a little girl was hit and killed. She’s included in the death toll of 21 pedestrians last year.

This is ridiculous and revolting. No pedestrian should have to fear for their life while crossing the street in a city that prides walkability.

I am afraid to walk in San Francisco. Even when the green “walk” sign lights up, I stop and look both ways. I make eye contact with drivers as they creep ever so slowly into the intersection, crossing just feet from where my foot just was. Just yesterday, I was crossing the street while a massive dump trunk threatened to cut me off. I paused, unsure whether to go, daring the driver to keep going. Luckily, he stopped, and I kept walking, boiling mad. Drivers need to practice patience, breathe, give pedestrians room to cross. As a driver in the city myself, I am honked at while I wait for pedestrians, give them a few feet of room so they don’t feel frightened. I can’t believe I am honked at for not mowing people down.

What is behind this anger? Why are people in such a rush? Why do horns blare and middle-fingers jut everywhere? People in San Francisco need to calm the F down. I have never lived in such an aggressive city.

The relationship between drivers and pedestrians is a serious problem in San Francisco. Drivers are angry that pedestrians run out in front of them, jaywalking willy nilly. Pedestrians are angry drivers don’t give them space. It’s dysfunctional, with both sides hating the other, and people are dying. Pedestrians are dying.

Something need to change.

 


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Why I’m not on TV

I’ve never been afraid of making funny faces. I don’t care how ridiculous I look as I contort and stretch my cheeks, or scrunch up my neck. The “cabbage patch” look, however, is my favorite. It works in any occasion.

And with any friend.

And while I’ve always known I have a fairly expressive/flexible face, I never know how much so until I recorded a television demo. You see, I’ve done radio for years, so I thought television would be a piece of cake. “Just act natural,” one of the veteran anchors at FOX40 told me. “Okay, I can do that,” I thought. But little did I know that “natural” meant faces like this:

And like this:

 And this:

Or finally, this:

At first, I thought this might be because the screengrabs caught me at unnatural angles, and right in the middle of speech. But when I looked through other recordings, I noticed the other anchors just didn’t make these strange looks. Had they learned how to “control” their facial features? Or maybe they naturally don’t have a crazy face like mine?

This is why they are the professional television people, and I’m the radio person. When I watched my demo, I realized why. Even though my voice sounds normal, and I was not nervous, I still look like a “deer in the headlights”. It’s so bad, it makes me laugh. There’s no way I can ever use this demo except for to make fun of myself, which luckily, I really, really love doing. So now, I will show you my demo, so you can make fun of me as well 🙂

After shooting my demo, I sent it to one of my friends, Travis Mayfield, who was a television news reporter for years. A few of his comments: don’t be afraid of big hair, don’t be afraid to move your hands, darker colors are better than white on a fair person, pretend like you’re talking to a real person behind the camera. My Mom suggested shiny lip gloss, and curlier hair. I agree with all their insight, but then I realized that I’m just more comfortable in front of a radio microphone. I can throw on a pair of sweats and wear no makeup, and still cover breaking news like a pro. I can stand in the studio and make all the weird faces I want while I read my news stories. I can drink wine on the job (heh).

Someday, I think I’d like to learn how to do TV. I think the next step is to stand in front of a mirror for hours, practicing scripts and watching my expressions. As soon as I start to do the “deer in the headlights” look I’ll stop, recalibrate, and tone down my excitment level. I love the news, and I love reading it on-air in my “news voice.” It’s been one of my passions for years.

If you’re a news person out there, how did you learn to manage your “television” face?


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Things I learned as a news web producer: Corpses and Sex sell

I’ve learned a lot working as a web producer at FOX40 news in Sacramento. I’ve learned that people who comment on our station’s Facebook page are crazier than people who call the newsroom. I’ve learned that driving through South Sacramento is like cruising through a funny farm. And I’ve learned that people, in the evenings, like stories about corpses and sex, and galleries of tragic things like Amy Winehouse or uncomfortable things like awkward family pet photos or “sexy” things like Comicon Babes.

My routine goes like this: I arrive around 3:30pm, and immediately scan KTLA and WPIX for weird stories. Anything disgusting will do the trick. You see, a major part of my job is getting clicks for the website, and I’ve learned what will do just that it in the evenings. A couple days ago, I saw a story titled, “Corpse Wakes up in a Morgue Refrigerator“, and knew I hit a gold mine. Sure enough, people began sharing it on Facebook, and it got a thousand or so clicks in a short time period. The next day I came to work, I was rewarded with this (check out items, 2, 4 and 6)

Sacramento seems to have a similar fascination with penises. The day the news broke about the woman who cut her husband’s penis off and put it in the garbage disposal (allegedly), our “Most Viewed/Emailed” list looked like this (check out items, 1,2 and 10)

Then, when I posted the story about the couple caught having sex in a public pool for 30 minutes, it stayed on our website under the “Most Viewed/Emailed” list for days. DAYS, people.

Soon, I will be leaving FOX40 to do reporting and producing for KGO 810 radio in San Francisco. I am very excited about my new adventure in life, but the FOX40 Facebook fans and website clickers may be disappointed by the lack of stories about corpses, sex and other morbid things. As a little going away gift, I left them these stories tonight:

Glendale Man Tries to Remove Hernia Using Butter Knife

Girl, 6, Accused of Trying to Drown Litter of Puppies

Children Find Human Head at Retired Doctor’s Home

I think people often get bored with bland stories about fires, murders and bank robberies, and are more likely to click on the strange. Makes sense, right? Some of these stories are so outrageous, they don’t even seem real.

I’ll miss trolling through our news partners’ website for disgusting, strange or awkward stories to put on in the evening hours of my shift. Maybe some nights you’ll see me, sending out odd stories on Twitter, reminiscing about my evenings at FOX40.