My Turn: My 15 Minutes of Fame
How I ended up doing Table Topics on TV.
By Rose H. McCall, ATMB
Caption: The author, Rose McCall, with
WSFA-TV12 weather anchor Rich Thomas.
In September 2007, I had a conversation with Ken Selvaggi, general manager at my favorite TV channel, WSFA-TV 12, here in Montgomery, Alabama, about its lack of positive news and information. I asked him if I could write an editorial for presentation on the network. After receiving my e-mailed essay titled, “What Happens Now That Summer is Here?” he wrote back to ask if I would be willing to come down to the station and record it. Since my college drama class, I’ve had visions of doing television, but I never thought I would get the opportunity. So my eager response was…Yes!
I have been a Toastmaster for many years and even attended club meetings around the city. My home club for more than six years was the Blue-Gray Toastmasters Club on the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base and now my membership is with the CAVHCS-West Toastmasters Club at the Veterans Administration Office here in Montgomery. Over the years Toastmasters has helped me prepare for various speaking roles, such as giving Beauties of America pageant interviews, being a junior high-school PTSA president, judging a Junior Miss contest, teaching Sunday school and acting as Mistress of Ceremonies. But television?
I had written articles for several beauty pageant publications but nothing remotely related to television news! I knew that the timing for the editorials was two minutes or less. To some, that may seem like very little time, but Table Topics gave me the perfect training ground.
I also remembered what my drama teacher taught me: Lips, Teeth and Tongue – say it clearly and you will be well received. I try to write my guest editorials as clearly and to the subject as possible and leave no time for rambling. If you delay getting to the message, people will change the channel, tune you out or walk out of the room.
Nobody walks when I talk! I know they listen, based on the amount of feedback the station gets when my comments air. In addition, every person I meet tells me how much they enjoy the commentaries and to “keep up the good work.” Some people assume that I work at the station since I am on once a month on average, but as I told someone, I consider it my public service to the community to speak on such topics as “Bullying,” “Uncommon Courtesies” and “Baggy Pants.” Over a seven-month period I have recorded nine editorials and all of them have been aired on Channel 12. The station calls me their “local celebrity,” my pastor calls me “Miss TV Star” and my kids, well let’s just say they hear all of the commentaries before I read them on TV, and they still call me Mom.
How did I get my 15 minutes of fame? I asked, the door opened and I stuck my foot in! Fortunately I was good enough that they kept asking me back. My nickname at the station is “One-Take Rose” because we usually shoot it in one take! I read the copy I wrote from a teleprompter and stand or sit where the regular news anchors sit on camera.
How do you get those 15 minutes? First, prepare yourself with Table Topics! Second, learn to write as clearly as possible on a subject of your choice and then see if your local station accepts guest editorials. My comments run within every news broadcast for two days starting with the 5 or 6 p.m. slot and running until 6 a.m. or noon the next day. Third, type it up in a Word document and e-mail it to the general manager with an opening comment introducing yourself.
Practice your presentation in front of the mirror and try on different colors to see which one looks best on you on camera. This is very important! Some colors will wash you out under bright lights and some will make you look dull. I usually wear red or a bold color pattern with black for contrast.
The most important thing is to have fun, relax, enjoy the experience and do those Table Topics!
Rose H. McCall, ATMB, is a member of CAVHCS - West Toastmasters in Montgomery, Alabama.