I am not sure what you thought of the show last night. As for me, I felt like drinking Draino when I got home. Yes, I still think I have the best job there is — but there are shows when it seems nothing is going right. Last night was one of those nights. Since I promised you the "behind the scenes," here it is ...
A few minutes before the start of the 2nd or 3rd segment, Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams were seated at the desk on the set (across from me.) Seconds (and I mean seconds) before the segment started, there was some sort of power failure. I suddenly lost the audio being fed to me via an earpiece. This meant I would not be able to hear my remote guests nor get any cues from the producer in New York.
For some reason, Ted still had audio when the failure happened. So the crew quickly unplugged my audio (the plug is to my lower left) and plugged my earpiece plug into Ted's "box." Ted's audio volume is, of course, next to him, and across the desk from me. This meant someone had to unplug me, crawl under the desk with my plug and plug it in next to Ted. His plug is well out of reach of me. It also meant Ted was disconnected but I needed to be able to do the show and could bypass Ted for a segment.
The segment started, and we were lucky to have a "solution" without you catching the crew on the set trying to figure out the problem or seen crawling under the set desk. At the time we did not know what was wrong or how bad it was — we only knew we had a big problem — and we were momentarily content to have a "solution."
As luck would have it, Ted's volume was turned up as loud as it could go so when the segment started, I was blasted. I probably jumped since it was so loud into my ear and certainly not expected.
From time to time your audio volume can be turned all the way up but you simply immediately reach down and turn the volume down. Turning it down quickly is obviously important so that you don't damage your ear and so that you can tolerate the extreme volume. It is extremely unpleasant to get "blasted" but an easy fix ... ordinarily.
Unfortunately, since my earpiece cord was plugged in on the other side of the table — next to Ted — I could not reach it. I would have had to stand up and walk around the table to turn it down.
Because the segment had started, and not wanting to make a "scene," and needing to hear my remote guests, I endured it.
I started the interviews while literally getting blasted out of my chair. I immediately went to a remote guest (Dr. Baden?) because I knew Ted and Bernie had no audio. I was lucky to have Dr. Baden and Jeanine Pirro. They were in NY with audio.
When the camera went to the remote guest, and off me, I held up a sign that I had written as I was talking opening the segment which read something like "loud!"
I was fortunate that my stage manager saw the sign and he then "crawled" over to the set — under the camera so you would not see him — and turned the volume down. Of course this was complicated since he did not know how far to turn it down. He also had to avoid turning it too far -off — since I was in the middle of interviews.
I hand motioned him under the camera view when to stop turning it down and we managed to get it at a suitable level. Meanwhile, Ted and Bernie just sat there quietly.
We went to break a short time later and I assumed — as did the DC crew in the studio — that we would fix the problem. During the commercial break we were told it was a bigger problem than we had realized. Since I am not a technical person, I am not sure what happened other than to know it was a mess and back up lines were being used to keep the show on the air.
We started the next segment and I was still plugged in under and across the table into Ted's audio box. Unfortunately, matters got worse. There was a "mixed-minus" problem. I am not sure what that means other than to tell you it is "audio hell." When you speak, you get a loud echo of yourself.
It is horrible and the person who has this problem usually sounds drunk on the air trying to talk over it. It is also disorienting for the person who does not expect it. Like volume issues, there is a simple solution — just reach down and turn OFF your volume completely as you speak so that you don't get a loud echo back in your ear. When you finish speaking, and as the guest responds, you simply turn the volume up. In short, you "ride" the volume control. It is unpleasant and cumbersome — but workable.
Well — you know the problem! I could not reach the audio knob — I was still plugged into Ted's across the table. I tried to compensate for the now bigger problem for me but wonder if some of you thought I had had a drink or two during the commercial break. A person with a "mixed minus" problem sounds plastered on the air.
Again I scratched out a note and held it up when I was off camera. Soon this problem was fixed but while they were fixing it, I was conducting an interview. Frankly, I am not sure what I asked Dr. Baden and Jeanine Pirro. I was just trying to "survive."
During the next break, when the problems were obviously not getting any better, the crew decided to move Bernie and Ted to two other studios where it was hoped there were no audio problems.
When I started the next segment, I went to Bernie. Bernie sounded a bit odd to me and my guess is that he had a "mixed minus" problem but was trying to compensate. Bernie left before the show was over so I never had a chance to ask him — or to thank him and Ted for putting up with the problems.
I debated whether to tell you — the viewers — on air about our problems. I think we sufficiently covered the problems during the show so as not to be hugely noticeable but I always like to include you in on the "behind the scenes." Most of you are loyal viewers and so I feel like you might want to know all the stuff going on.
I mentioned the problem briefly on air — I figured some of you might notice that Bernie and Ted had moved from the set — but thought you might find more details "interesting." For me, the term "interesting" somehow understates the night. And yes, despite the surprises of last night, the job still remains easier than most jobs people do every day.
So now to today's show. We head to Boston!
Tonight our show will be LIVE in Boston for the Democratic convention. Fox is so ready for this convention!!! Regardless of whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent and/or undecided, this is an extremely exciting and dynamic presidential race.
The parties' conventions are a very important step towards November and this race is very, very, very close. The conventions give you the inside view of the strategies, the strengths and the weaknesses of the parties and their candidates.
This election will have enormous ramifications for all of us and you don't want to miss one part of this race. You want to know what your ticket is doing and thinking and you want to know what the other ticket is doing and thinking. It is not enough to pay attention to just your candidate/ticket.
Even if you have decided on your vote, it is not smart to look at only half of this political race — you need to be "part" of it and you need to pay close attention to both parties' conventions.
Plus, let's face it, you will get lots of strong arguments about why you are right in your choice when you can point to the other side and say "this is what that party's ticket says!" So, you need to watch both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
I thought I should give you the "heads up" on what we are planning for next week from the convention. The convention does not really start until Monday but we are getting a jump on the coverage. We have two hours — from the time the convention closes at 11p.m. eastern until 1a.m. This should give us a full opportunity to wrap up the political issues (and to keep you "up to speed" on other news stories of the day including the Peterson trial in Redwood City, California.)
In an effort to include you in our programming, we are planning to take phone calls during our political discussion each night. We really do want to know what you have to say and we want to answer your questions. I am not sure who will be on our panel each night but our producers are on top of that (as I remind you often, this is a live show and we are constantly changing the line up and following the news. It is not unusual to change the "rundown" as we are on air. While I am interviewing a guest, a producer may say to me "next we are going to Baghdad, there is news there.")
We are told the convention will end each night promptly at 11p.m. eastern (I don't believe that!) and thus we are to start right at 11.
We have been getting ready for this convention (and the Republican one in N.Y.C. at the end of August) for months. FNC has many employees dispatched to Boston in addition to the "on-air" people you know. Television shows are put on by many, many people — not just the one you see on camera (in fact, the people you don't see get all the credit — they do all the "heavy lifting" for show!)
Fox has, as is routine for large media events, prepared a Briefing Book for all of us. The Briefing Book contains bios of the candidates, list of and bios of speakers and influential members of the party, security information, convention basics, information about delegates, maps, polls, convention history, information about the platform, shuttle information, calendar of events, etc. To be prepared, we study this Briefing Book.
While we don't go on the air until 11p.m. eastern, we don't spend our day doing nothing. Working a convention is an "around the clock" project. Everyone will be looking for news for you, and working sources.
We are also obliged to keep abreast of other news events — this is a big world with much going on. On the road is always more work than being in a home bureau. Even such seemingly simple things as trying to find some place to "log on" to the computer takes time (it isn't like walking to your office and sitting at your desk.)
Yes, we do have huge work spaces (we practically build a news bureau where we go), but it is not the same as your own bureau.
Do you have something you'd like to say to Greta? Please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET