So I think we’ve done a tremendous job so far with komusports.blogspot.com. Will and I have done almost all the work on the site as far as content and posts. This past week, we had 2 local teams playing in Union, roughly an hour and a half drive from Columbia. Since Will was shooting the game and planning on FTPing the highlights back, I figured I’d ride along and do stuff with the blog – upload pictures to Flikr during the game, tweet score updates with the KOMUSports account on CoTweet, and basically live-blog the game. Thanks to Union HS’s speedy wireless internet, I think it was a rousing success. We beat the heck out of the competition with the amount of content we got online and on-air. I think (although I’m not certain) we plugged the blog site during the 6 and 10 sportscasts, so hopefully people went online to check it out. I have no idea how many hits we got, so I’d really like to add some sort of tracking to the blog so we can see how many people we’re getting.
Tracking my visitors is one of the more interesting things about running brianmortensen.com. I know most of the “service providers” based on who is visiting – i.e., the most visits is from “Centurytel internet holdings inc” – my apartment, so that’s me logging on there to change things, while the 3 visits from “Verizon Internet Services Inc” is most likely my family on their Verizon Fios in NJ. I’ve gotten some assorted, random visitors from people I don’t know – for instance, “Headquarters usaisc” appears to be some sort of government intelligence service who stopped by for 19 seconds, while a user named “Microsoft Corp” stopped by and briefly checked out the site . Clearly, my website has oodles of secret information on it worth monitoring…But anyway, it’s indeed fun to see who’s been on it. Even my grandparents have seen it – “Cox Communications” is their internet provider in Virginia.
Anyway…Back to the komusports.blogspot.com – I can’t wait to upgrade its appearance. It definitely looks a bit bare with too much white on it. I’d love to get some columns on the side with various info boxes, pictures, links, etc. Jen says we’ll get to work with when KOMU unveils their new website layout – so I can’t wait for that!!
I covered the Rally of The 100 Acre Wood this past weekend, and boy, it was a great time. I’m lucky I got the chance to do it – back in mid-January, Eric Blumberg, KOMU’s assistant sports director, asked if anyone knew about rally racing after he received an email from a viewer asking if we’d be covering it this year. I said something to the effect of “Hell yeah” when Blumberg asked about it. So I immediately went on Rally-America.com and went through the media registration process. I was thrilled I’d have the chance to finally get to a rally – in all places – about 2 hours from our station.
I’ve always loved watching the World Rally Championship – I have about 15 old VHS season review videos and “In-Car Experience” montage videos in a box in my closet – and I basically grew up watching this stuff without ever getting the chance to see it in person. When Cablevision added Speedchannel to my family’s cable package in the mid 00′s, I was finally able to watch guys like Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Marcus Gronholm, and other legends duke it out. I vaguely remember catching some of Speedchannel’s coverage of Rally America back then, too. So you can imagine how pumped I was to hear about the rally in Missouri. To be honest, though, I haven’t followed the WRC lately because Speedchannel has cut back big time on their coverage and essentially only shows NASCAR. But I knew Travis Pastrana had been competing in Rally America along with Ken Block and a few other “bigtime” guys, and that Subaru has always been a big entrant in the series. What I didn’t know was that now Ford has been making a BIG effort to get the Fiesta competitive – it seems they have a big budget for R&D, promotions, and signing one of the most popular American drivers in Ken Block and entering him in both the American series, and selected WRC rallies.
For the whole week up to the rally, I was pumped. I barely slept the night beforehand, even though I had to be up at 3AM to get ready, get to the station and get the gear, then hit the road, so I thought i’d be tired – but that’s nothing 2 big coffees from Quik Trip can’t solve! The drive down to Salem was fun – I’d never been down Highway 63 past Jefferson City – I’ve been east on Highway 50 for a ways, but I hadn’t experienced the fun of the one-lane-in-each-direction driving through steep, winding hills that is Highway 63 south of Jefferson City. I crossed over I-44 in St. James and from there, it really got fun. I could see just why the area was perfect for a rally – tons of hills, curvy, tight roads, and plenty of nature. I arrived in Salem very early, around 7AM, and figured I’d get breakfast, so I hit up the “Red Hen Breakfast Cafe” where I enjoyed a big homemade omelette. After I finished up there, I made my way over to where the “parc expose”, or basically where all the cars would park, and got acquainted with the media contacts from Rally America. View Larger Map
After that, I made my way up and down the street checking out all the cars as they rolled in. A good crowd had already gathered to check out the cars and try to get autographs by this point – about 8:30am. The crowd mobbed Travis Pastrana and Ken Block, so I figured I’d try to interview more amateur/shoestring budget type guys. I found some great interviews – Burak Tuğlu, driver of a 2001 Ford Focus, and Jason Grahn, codriver of a newer Subaru Impreza, then two volunteers – Thomas McDonald and Matt Smith, who had both driven down to Salem from Columbia, making the story even more interesting since they were 2 local guys getting involved. Meanwhile Tuğlu and Grahn had both traveled long distances to get to Salem, so it really added that unique angle as well to have them in the story.
So with all my interviews done, I waited around to head out to the stages. I went with a convoy of “inexperienced” photogs and headed out to a stage. After a lot of waiting around, the stage finally began. I set up on the inside of the 1st corner so I could have a full shot of the cars going uphill at full tilt. Of course, it made for awesome video and I was really happy with what I got. After the stage ended, we rode out to the service area. It was here I hooked up with Ford’s Brent Maurer – the account director and PR manager for some of their racing exploits. I basically rode around with him for the rest of the day in his luxurious rented Ford Escape – a nice ride. After hanging out at the service area and grabbing lunch from the always-great Caseys General Store in Viburnum, we headed to Potosi for the superspecial stage. There was a little more freedom here to move around and shoot where ever we wanted. I also shot a standup here where I talked about the modifications to Ken Block’s Fiesta that make it different from a typical street car.
The first guy off the blocks in the superspecial was Travis Pastrana, and on his 2nd turn of the loop, he broke a piece of his Subaru’s left-rear suspension. He struggled to the end of the stage and pulled off by the exit of the park and got out. From my vantage point up on a hill several hundred yards away, I could tell his Subaru was in trouble. His delay, and eventual retirement from the rally boosted Ken Block into the lead – a major shakeup in the rally and the championship standings. Had Pastrana held the lead and gone on to win, he would have built a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship, but with his retirement Block became an immediate contender in just his 1st season with Ford. I shot just a few more cars on the stage, then headed down to Pastrana’s car and got some video of him and his codriver trying to fix the suspension. I grabbed the stick mic and went over to Pastrana to ask him what happened, and he seemed happy to oblige for a quick interview – he was pretty funny, he said something like “Hi there!” in a tone I didn’t expect from a guy who just wrecked out of the rally. He blamed his exit on himself and overall had some great emotion – a great bite.
We took off from the superspecial and made our way back to Salem via Viburnum for a quick stop at the Ford service area, where the crew was working on Block’s car and getting it ready for the next few stages of the night, as by this point in the day the sun was setting. Maurer dropped me off in Salem, and we exchanged contact info. I think he’ll be a great contact to have in the racing industry – of course that’d be an awesome area for me to potentially work in the future.
I made the drive back to Columbia via Jefferson City and a stop at Kate & Ally’s Pizza – of course, a necessary part of any trip through there! On Sunday I began putting the story together and eventually we had it run in the news portion of the show instead of sports because of the Olympics shortening our time. Here’s the finished product, and I was really pleased with it. I got a lot of great feedback on it.
With the hope of adding more content to komusports.blogspot.com and brianmortensen.com, I went down to the station on Friday to take care of a bunch of stuff. First, I wanted to get as much video as possible from my news reporting days to post over on brianmortensen.com. I looked for numerous news stories I reported on over the summer with the high-quality raw video, but unfortunately it had all been deleted except for whatever was on komu.com. Of course, I should have gotten those stories immediately after I reported on them, but oh well. The video from komu.com actually looks OK on Youtube – so thankfully I was able to save them. I was bummed I couldn’t save one of the live shots I did for the “Tiger Treasures Rummage Sale” – a total bogus story, little news value but I had some good video and it fit in with the day – simply one of those slow news days in the summer in Mid-Missouri.It was a fun live shot because I was able to show several high-quality rummage sale items, so it was a productive live shot at least.
Once I dug up all my old news video, I began uploading it to Youtube. Meanwhile, I harvested some sports video for komusports.blogspot.com and uploaded it to Vimeo. After I found all the video, I saw KOMU was covering 2 local high school games – Fulton @ Mexico, and Helias @ Rock Bridge. On a whim, I took a drive to Mexico, then back to Rock Bridge on the premise of taking some pictures and such for the blog. It was fun – I was able to get some decent pictures with my crappy little point-and-shoot camera and get them on the blog before the sportscast aired. I called the sports office and told them if they wanted, they could add a web snipe shoutout to the KOMU Sports blog at the end of the highlights to tell viewers they could check out the blog for some pictures from the games. You can check out the pictures here: the Rock Bridge game and the Mexico game
Then yesterday, I went down to the station to upload the highlights to Vimeo. I also added a short video extra from the Mexico game – the “Crowning of Mr. Bulldog” – a celebration of the school’s “best man”. One of the players on the basketball team won, so it was pretty cool.
The site is really coming along well and I’d love to see us add even more content!
This semester has gotten off to a fantastic start. I’m enjoying my classes and so far I’ve been able to keep up with the goals I’ve set. My 1st goal was to spend less time at KOMU, and of the time I do spend there, make it worthwhile doing what I really enjoy – sports reporting, videography, and producing. I’ve definitely been able to do this so far in the semester. I’ve shot, written, and edited about a package a week either for the Sports Show or for a nightly sportscast while usually shooting highlights or going to a media day once or twice a week. BY “less time at KOMU” I mean not working any exhausting/time consuming live truck or PA shifts that destroy my sleep schedule/health/grades. Last semester I worked about 10-12 hours a week on live truck, and while it was nice to have the extra money, I really suffered from sleep deprivation and academic frustration. So far this semester, I’ve been able to enjoy my classes a lot more because I’m not on the verge of falling asleep in all of them!
My 2nd goal was to maintain my grades and ensure I graduate! So far, I’ve definitely succeeded. I’ve done well on my first few assignments in some of my more writing-intensive classes, so I’m excited about hopefully finishing my undergraduate career on a good note.
My 3rd goal remains working at building personal connections and an online presence. I’ve begun to go back through all my business cards of people I’ve met and email addresses I’ve gathered to stay in touch with them and try to retain them for future reference. A site like Linkedin is very useful for this as it saves me the trouble of getting business cards for some people. But, I’ve found getting in touch with people on Linkedin can be tough as they often don’t check their messages on it, hence the need for personal correspondence outside of the site. I’m hoping the connections I’ve made throughout my 4 years at Mizzou will help in the job hunt as I’m not particularly worried about future geographic location. As far as an online presence goes, I need to build my own website. I purchased the server space for brianmortensen.com, so I just have to go about actually building the site and such. I’d really like to learn Adobe Flash, and I’m strongly considering a free training session on campus for it in a few weeks – just not sure if it’s worth missing a class for it! And with that, I’d love to build a really cool brianmortensen.com with tons of flash and fun stuff like that, but we’ll see.
My 4th goal is to really nail this capstone project. I’m working with Will Maetzold, Cassandra Novy, and James Steward on expanding KOMU’s online high school sports coverage. So far I’m thrilled with what we’ve done. Will and I would like to shoot a few “Opening Drive”-type shows throughout the semester and add it to the KOMU.com sports page. So far we’ve both been swamped with work outside the station to really get it off the ground, but I know we’ll have plenty of chances to get a good few shows in. We need Scott Schmidt to make graphics for us – that seems to be the main holdback – and if we accomplish that, anchoring, producing, writing, and creating the show will NOT be difficult. I can harken back to my “old” days of MuTV when I anchored “Tailgaters” and basically wrote a script the night before we shot the show with a really basic outline – some intros and outros for prompter, some local readers, then guided chat with my co-anchor and guests. I’d like to follow that same format but instead of a ≈ half hour show, we’ll keep it short – around 10-15 minutes hopefully.
The capstone also has us expanding our video coverage. I’ve begun to take all the high school highlights and stories from the sportscasts and upload them to Vimeo. I then embed them in a blog post as basically a daily post on komusports.blogspot.com. I then add tags for all the athletes and teams featured in the video. The video quality on Vimeo is about 100 times better than KOMU.com, so it’s definitely worthwhile to get them on a different site for embedding. I’ll also put the Blumberg Off the Bench packages on the blog if it involves a high school athlete. I invested the $40 or whatever it costs to get a Flikr pro account – and it’s definitely worth it because another part of our blog will be to post pictures from games we attend. If we can’t shoot a highlight, I’d really like each of us to get to one local game a week to just get some pictures, stats, and storylines to include on the blog. We’ll also have a “weekly links” type section where we find stories in local papers – such as the Fulton Sun or Columbia Missourian – and link to them. It would sound something like, “The Missourian’s Joe Smith has a preview of the Hickman-Rock Bridge boys basketball game tonight, and why fans should expect a quiet night from Ricky Kreklow,” or something like that. I think I’ve laid the foundation pretty well – we just have to get down to doing the work!