Turner time.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

I went to college, first in Vermont and then in the southeast Ohio appalachians, and maybe then arguably for a third time in my first real job, at WTCG, Channel 17 Atlanta. Yes, the SuperStation, ask for it by name!

There, in the late 70s, in a beat-up old studio on West Peachtree Street, I certainly found a collegial environment to learn how to do television, and maybe as importantly, to learn how to work with others and live on $3.60 an hour (yes, I still have my first Turner paycheck stub.)

I was hired as part of a push to expand the station’s operations staff (master control operators, camera people, audio) as WTCG began to be transmitted via satellite to all of North America. It’s probably my good luck that they were desperate to expand, hiring unemployed Ohio bums like me, Steak and Ale waitresses, and passers-by to fill out the staff.

And it was definitely my good luck to be teamed with or reporting to some remarkable people in what could be described as a minimalist management structure…it wasn’t until the second year or so of CNN’s existence (several years later) that squadrons of vice-presidents, memo-writers, and org-chart-makers descended on the place. Back then, if you had an issue or an idea, you went to talk to Sid, or Jackie, or Pooch, or R.T., or even Ted, if you caught him in the hall.

It was so educational, intense, practical—that I can’t help but think of it as part of my higher education—college 3.0.

I’m happy that I still hear from some of these folks every now and again. The other day, word came about the upcoming publication of Richard Croker‘s new book of extremely historical fiction, much closer to his heart and a far cry from his work cranking out promos and herding cranky baseball announcers. And then yesterday, up pops Mary Brennan (Mary Frazier when I first met her at WTCG), one of the best writers I know, blessed with the gift of producing, which generally means patience, organization, and the ability to simultaneously see fine-grained detail and the big picture as deadlines loom. And yes, she’s blogging, or journaling, or whatever you call the act of casting words online.

That’s just wonderful.

My friend (from college 2.0) Nancy describes her weblog as “as a one-sided few minutes over coffee that we can have every morning.” Well, exactly, and it’s a treat to have that few minutes with the smart people I met as I careened through life, folks that I might have lost touch with otherwise. And when that whole network-webbiness-thing starts to work and I “meet” new people through people who read people who know people…that too is collegial, and educational, and thus maybe life online is college 4.0 for me.