During my appearance on Comcast SportsNet’s “Chicago Tribune Live” years ago, the show’s host, David Kaplan, asked what I thought about the subject being discussed because I hadn’t said a word the entire segment. That’s when a cold sweat came over me. I’d spent the last five minutes spaced out and hadn’t listened to a word anyone on the panel had said. It was like all those times when a teacher would call on you while you were daydreaming in school, only this was live TV.
“I think Phil could probably better answer that question,” I said, referring to a colleague sitting next to me.
Needless to say, Kaplan didn’t ask me any more questions the rest of the show. And that’s just the way I like it.
I prefer asking questions rather than answering them. It’s one of many reasons why I’ve avoided doing much TV or radio during my career. It doesn’t help that I’m someone who will forget my phone number and social security number when put on the spot.
Another reason I don’t like doing TV or radio? I think shows want their celeb journalists to be peppy, and I’m the furthest thing from it. It’s one thing to write a celeb sighting in the paper (“Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari were spotted at Harry Caray’s Tavern in Navy Pier”) and it’s another to talk about it on air (“OMG, you guys. I have some major dish. Kristin Cavallari was spotted with her stud fiancee at Harry Caray’s and she looked AH-MAZING. Can you say touchdown?”)
That sort of enthusiasm works for some people, but not me. I can’t fake anything. Not because of some “I have to be true to myself” motto, but because I’m a horrible liar (You should see me squirm when a celeb asks me what I thought of their movie). If I could go the rest of my life without getting in front of a video camera or going on the radio, I would. But I can’t keep avoiding it – not with the journalism landscape changing.
That’s why you’re going to see a little more of me from now on.
Starting today, we will begin posting videos of me on the Tribune website. What will I be doing in them? Sweating profusely through my shirt? Singing “Call Me Maybe”? Other than today’s videos, I’m not exactly sure. We’ll make it up as we go.
And if anyone is crazy enough to book me after reading this blog entry, you’ll probably start seeing me make a TV or radio appearance here and there as well. It probably won’t be pretty, but I’ve put it off long enough.
Will I eventually get the hang of it after a while?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I think Phil could probably better answer that question.