Instant Chaos, Just Add Television!

The wild men of WildIndiana at the 2017 Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show. (L-R) Michael Parks, Trent Marsh, Scott Weaver, Alan Garbers, Chadd Wheat, Don Cranfill, Brent Wheat. Not pictured- Shirley Neal

The WildIndiana team has just completed a wildly successful run at the 63rd Annual Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show.

Our “television production facility” in the middle of Tackletown was the scene of much action and a bit of craziness but we were certainly the talk of the town. Now that the show has closed and the visitors have all gone back home, the considerable effort, sweat and sleepless nights that went into producing our contribution to the show seem worthwhile, though there were moments when all of our immediate futures were in doubt.

Let me explain how it all came about.

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I described our first abortive foray into live “television.” You might recall that as we turned the switch and literally went around the world, Little Timmy the toddler decided to conduct a highly personal hygiene activity while standing tall in a boat right behind Your Faithful Correspondent during an interview at a fishing event.

It was highly comical for everyone, except for the clueless host (me) and the horrified father of Timmy. All in all, it was one of those great stories that causes side-cramping laughter whenever told to your buddies in far-more disgusting detail over a few beers at the local watering establishment.

However, that experience taught me a couple of valuable lessons. First, our gear and technical expertise was woefully inadequate and secondly, people really love social media live video.  Live streaming video certainly seems poised to explode in every direction during the coming years.

That is why we came to spend a whole bunch of money from our nearly-non-existent bank account and ended up meeting with Kevin Renfro, the producer of the venerable Boat, Sport and Travel Show. Kevin is the son of Harry Renfro, the man who changed the Hoosier sporting landscape by purchasing a budding outdoor show from the distraught promoter after the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum disaster in 1963 and turned it into the Indiana tradition of today.

Kevin is very forward-thinking and fell in love with the idea of live video broadcasts from the show floor so with his assistance and support we built a small studio in the middle of Tackletown. Two weeks ago, within minutes of the first visitor passing through the doors, we began the experiment in grass-roots outdoor “Live TV.”

The experience was both incredible and exhausting. We broadcast over 70 segments with guests ranging from native plant experts to some of the biggest names in the outdoor world such as Ted Takasaki and Hank Parker.

Hank, once introduced by Bryant Gumbel as “The rod-and-reel answer to Michael Jordan,” was incredibly nice in spite of being so popular he couldn’t walk 10 feet without signing an autograph. So was Takasaki, “Turkey Man” Eddie Salter, the gorgeous Melissa Bachman and the vast majority of the other folks who sat in the rickety chairs in our makeshift studio.

Of course, aside from all the great moments and interesting interviews, there were those “other” moments that typically follow Your Expert Outdoor Journalist like a lone raincloud scudding across summer countryside in search of someone to dump upon.

In fact, after surviving those 10 days on-camera, I learned a deep, newfound respect for television news anchorpersons that can remain unflustered and calm even if the studio is on fire and cameramen are engaged in a brutal knife fight at the sports desk.

On Day One of the show, despite utter pandemonium while trying to work out all the last-minute technical bugs and overlooking the accidental destruction of my expensive tablet device, I finally took a deep breath and said “I’m ready.” The engineer pressed a button, gave the count-down and I began my welcome monologue.

That’s the exact moment the booth next to me completely collapsed. Somehow an inflatable kayak came crashing through the pipe-and-drape booth backdrop and caused our neighbor’s displays to crash down on the hapless exhibitor. In the video you can see my horrified reaction to the clanging, booming noise, followed by a faint off-screen “I’m OK! I’m OK!”

There was also the mid-interview belch I couldn’t stifle, the guest names I forgot after the cue-card holder went for a sandwich, the on-screen misspellings such as the famous Mr. Takasaki’s 15-seconds of transforming into “Ted Yakasaki” and occasional momentary lack of any organized brain function on the part of the slow-thinking host. Somehow we still managed to muddle through.

Despite all these problems it was a wonderful time and I believe we did some good work.

Now that show has concluded, it is time for a bit of relaxation, reflection and meditation after the WildIndiana team worked so hard to bring a revolutionary bit of outdoor media to the show.

Unfortunately, it is also time to clean up all that crap sitting in my office, spare bedroom, foyer, garage and vehicle, not to mention my parent’s garage and probably a few roadside ditches between here and the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  That is because even though our production was semi-organized and mostly-well-executed, the process of packing up our gear appeared less like an organized business event and more like a vision of frightened peasants fleeing from the inbound Mongol hordes.

That’s why things are scattered among vehicles, trailers, crates, bags and boxes.  In fact, I opened a cardboard box yesterday and discovered a beer vendor who had been inadvertently packed by someone in our crew.  I apologized and released him back into the wilds of suburbia.

Fortunately, we’ve got nearly a year before we have to load all those boxes up and do it again!

I’d like to continue with this story but I just heard some muffled curse words coming from inside one of my large rolling cases in the spare bedroom.

I can’t figure out why in the world the microphone cables would be cussing?!?

 

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Brent Wheat
A well-known and award-winning writer/photographer/radio & television talent/speaker/web-designer/media spokesperson/shooting instructor/elected official/retired police officer/bourbon connoisseur/cigar aficionado/backpacker/hunter/fisherman/gardener/preparedness guru/musician/and jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, Brent Wheat is the editor and publisher of WildIndiana.com

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