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Tri-State job means a lot of time on phone

February 17, 2003|by BILL KOHLER

"Kohler. Bill Kohler."

I'm not the man with the golden gun, but I am the guy with the plastic phone.

Instead of being out chasing down the bad guy and saving the world, I'm wheeling and dealing on the phone, discussing stories, photos, ideas and concerns with reporters in our Tri-State bureaus.

My job as Tri-State editor is unique at the Herald-Mail. I guess I'm more like "Q" - the guy in the Bond films who stays behind and plays with all the gadgets while fretting a lot - than the secret agent who gets out there in the action and always gets his man, and the girl.

Half of my working life is spent with my ear and chin married to a cold, hard piece of plastic.

A typical night on the Tri-State:

It's 9 p.m. and three of the four bureau reporters are at meetings. I'm saving space on pages B1 and B2. The stories already filed are on the page and I'm waiting for a picture being taken that night.

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The phone rings. It's Dave McMillion, who covers Jefferson County, W.Va. He's just returned from his meeting of the Jefferson County Board of Education and it's a bust. Two of the big items were tabled and he has nothing from the meeting.

The phone rings. I put Dave on hold.

It's Stacey Danzuso, who covers Chambersburg and Franklin County government.

"Stacey, can I call you back?"

"Dave, do you have anything to replace the BOE meeting?"

"Yeah, I have something from magistrate court. A guy was charged with crashing a car into a house."

"OK, keep it to about 8 inches ..."

The phone rings. I put Dave on hold.

"Bill, it's (photographer) Joe Crocetta. The guy we were supposed to shoot canceled. He got sick."

Joe was taking my picture for B1. I'm starting to sweat.

"I got you covered, though. I got you a feature shot."

Joe comes through. Crisis averted.

"Dave, you still there?"

"I'm writing while I wait," he says.

"Keep it to 8 inches ..."

The phone rings. "Dave, call me when you file."

It's Richard Belisle, who covers southern Franklin County, Pa.

"Listen, I have one story and I hope you don't need it to be very long."

I don't. Richard hangs up to write his Waynesboro (Pa.) School Board story.

Oh no, I forgot Stacey!

I call Stacey, who was covering a Chambersburg Borough Council meeting. During the time I was talking with the others, she had already written and filed her story.

We talk about the next day's stories and Sunday ideas.

I hang up. The phone rings less than five minutes later. Dave needs some background. I get it to him. I continue working on pages.

Ten minutes later, Richard calls. "You've got it," he proclaims. His story length is as advertised.

Dave calls five minutes later. "You've got it, brother," he says. The phone rings again.

Berkeley County reporter Candice Bosely, doing late cop checks, is next. "Bill, cops are quiet, but there are deputies on the scene of an accident on Route 9. It doesn't sound serious, but I am going to check it out on my way home."

"Great," I say. "Call me if it's big; don't if it's not."

I hang up the phone. Everyone is home or on their way and I feel relieved.

So what if my head is a little tilted to the left and my ear feels a little squished. So what if I made or received about 35 out-of-state calls and didn't get anything extra done tonight.

The stories are well done, the art is good, the pages are filled and the presses are rolling.

Mission accomplished.

,i>Bill Kohler is Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at 1-800-626-6397, extension 2023, or at billk@herald-mail.com.

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