Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gala Gives Anchors a Way to Honor Themselves

The following speech was delivered last Tuesday evening at the 73rd Annual Hampton Roads News Broadcasters Association's Dinner Gala in downtown Suffolk by President Burl Hofheimer Sr.

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.  Thank you for coming and thanks to all of you for driving separatley.  Can we fill up a parking lot or what?! (light laughter)

As 2009 draws to a close, so does another year of excellent local news broadcasting.  Despite our dwindling ratings, hundreds of people still rely on us to tell them the news.  If it's raining - we're outside to show them.  If a car accident happened - we're there, several hours after it happened, to show everybody that everything's fine.  If grease left on a stove started a fire that destroyed a few apartments - we're there, again - several hours later, to interview somebody that may have seen or heard something.

I would like to thank everyone for the continued, in-depth coverage of our greatest local heroes.  The noble young men that deserve our highest praise - the high school football players of Hampton Roads.  (resounding applause and cheers) Who won?  Who lost?  The mood of all Tidewaterians depends on our extensive coverage of every single one of their games.  Their fearless running, catching and kicking each Autumn fills a void that we must endure during the rest of the worthless, boring year.

A special thanks goes to our camera men and women for getting the tightest possible close-ups of people's faces while they're being interviewed.  With our new high-definition broadcast technology, the pores on their faces look like the finger holes on a bowling ball.  And when someone doesn't wish to appear on camera, I applaud your decision to increase the mystique of their identity by only filming their hat or feet or a hand.  A normal newscast suddenly takes on the feel of a strange, experimental foreign film.  I urge you to do more of those - even if they don't wish to remain anonymous.  Does anyone else detect the faint hint of an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton in the air?  (Andy Fox claps loudly)

For 2010, I only have a few suggestions.  I cannot (bangs podium) stress the importance of remembering what the housewife in Kempsville, the night desk clerk at a hotel in Hampton, or the stay at home mom in Ivor wants interspersed between 17 minutes of Haynes Furniture and car dealership commercials in a typical half-hour Hampton Roads newscast.  Is it raining?  When will it rain?  Did it rain while I was sleeping?  What did it look like?  What got wet?  Don't dwell on car accidents, gang fights, robberies, assaults, beach bacteria, swine flu stuff, troop deployments, local layoffs and such.  Those can all be summed up in sound bites -unless, of course, they happened in the rain.

 Also, the feigning of lighthearted small talk by all of you in the few seconds before Conan, Letterman, or Nightline must stop.  It's obvious it's forced, folks.  Just say goodnight and look down at your desk or watch or something.  No more umbrella jokes or anything. (coughs) Lawson!

So, now, (reading from card) Ladies and Geraniums - without farther, further...addoo, please...welcome Dabney Morgan and his puppet..."Mulch"...for irreverent stroll through the garden of...laughter.

(light applause as Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" fades up)