I worked with Ed Kilgore at WGRZ-TV in Buffalo for four years.
Ed Kilgore worked at WGRZ-TV for four decades.
The man is a legend — the once and future dean of Buffalo sportscasters. He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Miracle on Ice, and he even once ran with the Olympic torch.
This week, he becomes the second esteemed storyteller to visit the Telling The Story podcast.
Come back to tellingthestoryblog.com Wednesday at 8 AM to hear the full podcast with myself and Mr. Kilgore. We discuss the changing face of local TV news and sports, the uniqueness of Buffalo as a sports town, and the lessons an old-timer like Kilgore can teach the young’uns coming up today.
Every week, I will shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.
It’s an all-A/V edition of “3 Great Stories”.
After paying homage to three great print pieceslast week, we turn this week to some outstanding storytelling in podcasts and television. Each case benefits from time — the time to allow an interview to breathe, the time to develop a full story of an individual, or the time to give an in-depth look at a subject you never thought deserved one.
Jason Collins interview (4/30/13, The B.S. Report): Jason Collins was all over the news last week, starting with his coming-out announcement on Sports Illustrated’s web site — a wonderfully written and powerful piece in its own right. After it, he did several interviews and was the subject of a slew of articles.
In the process, Collins became an elevated figure. Many of the pieces about him last week talked more about what he represents than who he is.
For me, one interview stood out for going in the opposite direction.
Bill Simmons is, of course, the most popular writer at ESPN and Grantland.com, but he has proven to be a deft and skilled interviewer on his B.S. Report podcast, during which he regularly gets notable subjects to reveal unique insights into themselves. Simmons did a one-hour podcast with Collins Tuesday, and it is a seminar on how to conduct an interview. He keeps things light in many spots, chats basketball — including Collins’ ability to bend the rules and frustrate big-name opponents in the process — and does the seemingly impossible in the process: finds out details about Collins’ experience that had not yet been revealed in the tons of articles and columns written the previous day.
Simmons is a polarizing figure in sports media, but he has always been a terrific storyteller. His best attribute? He knows how to connect with people, whether his massive audience or his interview subjects. Here, while everyone else treated Collins as a hero, Simmons treated him as a human … and obtained the most human coverage of Collins as a result.
I was responsible for this past week’s most popular story on my station’s web site, 11alive.com.
In the piece, I profiled a 4-year-old boy from east Georgia who is battling a rare cancer that cannot be cured; he has been told he may only live for a few more days.
The story has been viewed more than 10,000 times; several of my co-workers told me the following day how much it moved them.
And the most moving moment? Initially I did not know if I liked it.
Let me offer a little background. The previous Friday, I drove down to the 4,000-person town of Lyons, Ga. to meet the young boy, Silas, and his family. In his final days, Silas had started a movement for everyone to paint their nails gold to raise awareness of childhood cancer. The movement had reached 30,000 likes on Facebook, with photos of gold-painted nails pouring into the family’s inbox.
Silas’ family members welcomed me into their home for a brief time. During that time, Silas did not say too much, but he did at one point take part in a moving, heart-breaking exchange with his mother.
“I don’t know what the bad news is,” Silas said about his situation. When his mom asked, “OK, well what’s the good news?” Silas responded by saying this:
“The good news is … is … soon I’m going to heaven.”
I thought about that moment the whole way back to Atlanta. I knew it would be the centerpiece of my story, and indeed I wrote it as such the following week.
When I showed the piece to my news director, she loved it but had one major point of advice:
“You need to play that line again,” she said about Silas’ “going to heaven” line.