3 GREAT STORIES: Starring violins, cheat codes, & Cuba

Every week, I 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.

Only in Indiana: The Awakening (4/6/16, WTHR-TV): One of the best storytelling tandems in local news just produced a gem.

Reporter Kevin Rader and photographer Steve Rhodes always craft powerful, joyous stories for WTHR-TV’s “Only in Indiana” segment. In this case, they turn their gaze to a young boy named Elias, blind and deaf since birth, and his “awakening” with a musical instrument.

To say much more would mean spoiling a truly beautiful piece. Rader offers tender narration while Rhodes provides his usual exquisite editing; I have profiled these two before, and I have no doubt I will mention them again in this space before too long.


Covering the recovery of Louisville’s Kevin Ware

I walked into work last Monday morning not expecting to hit the road for three days.

I had, of course, already heard about Louisville men’s basketball player Kevin Ware. I had seen the gruesome clip in which he snapped his tibia during Sunday night’s NCAA Tournament game. I also knew he was a local athlete for us at WXIA-TV in Atlanta; Ware went to high school in Conyers, Ga., roughly 30 minutes east, and I knew we would be covering his recovery over the next few days.

I just did not think we would travel to do it.

Yet as soon as I sat down at my desk Monday, my producers greeted me with the proposition of flying to Indianapolis, where Ware had just undergone surgery. By 3 PM photographer Steven Boissy and I had checked in at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; by 6 PM we had touched down in Indy. I spent the next three days reporting live from the hospital in Indianapolis and the campus of Louisville; we flew back to Atlanta Thursday morning, 12 hours after Ware himself had done so (he joined his fellow Cardinals for the Final Four in Atlanta this past weekend).

I had not road-tripped like that for a story in quite some time. I found myself both surprised and impressed with how the process had changed — mainly, how it had shrunk.

Like everything else in TV news coverage these days, the on-the-road live shot can now be a much physically smaller affair. We did not need to rent a live truck in our various Midwestern cities; instead, Steven brought one of our station’s TVU packs, which use 3G and 4G networks to essentially send a super-crisp Skype shot wherever we desire.

Steven fit the pack and all of its cables in one checked bag … along with all of his clothes.