The Unexpected Ways Life Can Change

Months ago, I posted about how I’d returned to a career in television after taking an eleven-year hiatus from the broadcasting industry. Some of you may have read that post. If not, you can find it here: https://meltdownmessiah.com/2021/04/06/embracing-change/

Since then, I have been promoted into a position I’d have never imagined finding myself. I am now the News Producer for Good Morning KOTA Territory, a morning newscast that runs from 5:30 AM until 7 AM, Monday through Friday. At no point, during the ten years I spent working in television, between 2000 and 2010, had I considered the possibility that I might someday be working in the newsroom. But, here I am.

After only a week of training alongside another producer, I began my solo journey this morning, producing the first hour and a half newscast without someone there to check my work or bail me out if I hit a wall. There were some minor hiccups, but nothing that wouldn’t have happened even if there’d been someone else working alongside me. That’s the nature of live television. The important thing is to learn from those errors and to do better moving forward. It’s also important to keep in mind that there will always be mistakes that slip through, no matter how attentive or careful we are. I’m actively proud of myself for what I’m accomplishing and how I’ve managed to excel in an industry I’d stepped away from in January of 2010.

On Friday, November 12th, I was credited with writing my first story. We received breaking news in the middle of the night, that a fire had ignited in Custer State Park. One of my fellow producers sent me some details and video provided by emergency responders on the scene, and I compiled it into a story for our newscasts. The other producer tweaked things a bit when he arrived at the station a few hours later, and he posted the story online. I never expected to be credited in a byline, but it seems like life is full of unexpected things for me these days. The story is linked below:

https://www.kotatv.com/2021/11/12/firefighters-battle-15-acre-blaze-east-legion-lake/?fbclid=IwAR38UZimsaoCCqUVKgzOISwZl9lIAtsQxRu5BpOKxKrnBkrxlPyX4rzqGAQ

I’m content remaining behind the scenes. I have no interest in becoming a reporter or an anchor. I’m not comfortable in front of the camera, as you can see from the interview I did during the final week of October.

Miranda O’Bryan, the producer and anchor for KOTA Territory News @ Noon was aware that I happened to be a horror author, and she wanted to do more Halloween-themed interviews and stories leading up to the holiday. It took a little bit of coercing, and she asked really nicely, but I agreed to sit down for an interview. I almost choked at the start, visibly unable to respond to the question. Also, I have a face for radio…so I don’t anticipate we’ll be seeing me in the field or sitting at a desk anywhere down the line.

This is where I find myself now. It’s not where I’d have expected myself to be, but I feel like it’s where I should be, at least for the time being. Looking ahead, I hope–and believe–this will open new doors for me. I feel strangely optimistic about where my life is headed at present, and I feel a similarly strange sense of pride at what I’ve managed to do. I enjoy what I’m doing, I like the people I’m working with, and I feel like I’m doing something that has at least some small amount of value to it.

And…yes…this new position did come with a raise. I’m not back to the $40k a year I’d been making prior to leaving my position with GE Appliances, but I’m certainly closer than I was in my previous role within Gray Television. I’d call that a win. Sometimes we have to take a few steps back before we can find our way forward.

Corruption and Hypocrisy In South Dakota: or Great Faces, Rigged Cases

As could have been predicted, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg gets a pass for what should have been a clear-cut case of unintentional vehicular manslaughter (at the very least). After Ravnsborg killed a man in September, while driving distracted (clearly accurate based on the misdemeanors he was charged with), the Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney finally announced that this asshole is facing a whopping three misdemeanor charges; using a mobile electronic device, driving in the wrong lane, and careless driving. Ravnsborg was supposedly sober at the time of the accident…based on an alcohol test performed 15 hours after the incident.

This man hit another human being with his car (while he clearly wasn’t paying any attention), called 911 to claim he believed he hit a deer, and went home to sleep…while another human being never made it home at all. Supposedly, if you believe the story released in Ravnsborg’s statement after he’d gotten a couple of good nights of sleep, the Sheriff had arrived and checked out the damage to Ravnsborg’s vehicle and sent him home. They claimed that they had both looked for the deer while somehow entirely missing the dying (or already dead) man in the ditch next to the scene of the accident. If that’s true–and I don’t believe it is–the Sheriff probably has no business being a Sheriff at all…he has even less business keeping his job if the story is a fabrication. The Sheriff was so kind that he even allowed Ravnsborg to borrow his own vehicle while the damaged vehicle was towed away.

None of this should really surprise anyone familiar with politics in South Dakota. This isn’t even all that dissimilar from an incident involving former Governor Bill Janklow back in 2004.

Even with eyes all over the state and the surrounding states closely watching this case and waiting to see the result of the investigation, there’s so much rampant corruption that this was almost a foregone conclusion.

Welcome to South Dakota, where accountability only exists if you’re poor or uninvolved with politics.

Work In Progress #1 (first draft snippet)

There was no choice anymore, not as far as he was concerned. He had to go back again, to return to a home that felt utterly alien and forbidding, a place he thought he had left behind a long time ago with the intent to never return.
That unspeakable damned thing was still there, churning beneath the surface of everything that had once seemed so familiar and innocent to him; everything that he had grown up with, everything that he had known and loved as a child, until the brittle facade of safety and normalcy was torn away and he had been forced to stare, slack jawed and terrified into the unknown and unholy reality that riddled the substrate.
Nestled there in the foothills, it seemed like such a typical (almost wholesome) small town environment; a bit of early settlement history mingled with that of the indigenous people of the region, some mom & pop businesses, and an old discontinued gypsum mine that hadn’t been active since before he was born.
His childhood had been filled with an abundance of nature and plenty of outdoor activities; strange that it was the hideous, formless aspect of some of that very nature that most concerned him and plagued him, even decades later, with nightmares.
It had killed again, after being dormant and apparently harmless for all those intervening years. It had been disturbed, foolishly, by one of his childhood friends, another victim of the unwelcome knowledge that this thing existed beneath the feet of the couple hundred residents of their hometown.
What had gotten into that fucking idiot’s head? He asked himself that question over and over again as he prepared to return home for the funeral. The strange circumstances surrounding the death were clear enough that he had some idea what had happened, it was the ‘why’ of it all that troubled him. He damn well intended to find out the answer.
He hated being back in South Dakota; that was why he had moved to the West coast in the first place, just to distance himself from the Midwest in general. Plus, distance from the region provided him with distance from that fucking thing that he knew was still down there, lurking in the earth.
For all he knew, those things were everywhere, some nameless organism that had eluded discovery, but he didn’t care. He knew of this one with certainty, and he gladly subscribed to the perspective that what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. He was blissfully and willfully ignorant of any such things that might be residing beneath the surface of the Oregon home that he loved so dearly.
Here he was though, back in the white trash fantasy camp wasteland that he grew up with, and he just wanted to go back home.