Guest Post: "On Air" by Bridgette Ehly
A week ago Friday, I walked into the TV studio at KCAL9 in Los Angeles to go live on-air to talk about my new novel, Going Live. It was the fifth TV interview I’ve done to promote the book, but the minute I passed through the studio doors, my heart began beating wildly. I said a prayer for God to help me, and then mentally scolded myself, saying, “You’d better get it together, because if your heart keeps beating like this, you’ll sound out of breath on TV.” I knew that from first-hand experience, having been a TV news reporter and anchor for 15 years. You might wonder why someone with that much on-camera experience would be so crazy nervous to go on-air. I wondered that myself. I think it’s because when a reporter goes on TV, they take on a certain persona that isn’t exactly their true self. It’s pretty close. They’re not acting like they’re a TV news reporter, they really are a reporter, and they’re telling the total truth about what’s happening in their story, but they are still a “reporter” first, and their own “private person” second.
Another reason I was so nervous is that I was talking about myself and my very personal project, something that I alone had created. When I went on-air as a reporter or anchor I was talking about things other people had created, accomplished or done. As a reporter I was literally another lens into the story. As an author, I am the story itself.
It’s very interesting because we all move through the world in the sight of others. They see us trip on the stairs, hear our voices as we speak and can tell by our dress and actions what sort of person we are. We are constantly on display for those around us, and yet, we shy away from mass attention. Most of us wouldn’t mind being a museum tour guide, but would balk at being the subject of the tour guide’s words and finger pointing. I think it’s our aversion to criticism. I share that aversion, but I’m willing to overcome it to do the journalistic work I love, and create the fiction that flows from my head.
Being in LA had me thinking a lot about TV and movie stars. I think this “no persona” shyness applies to them, too. Ever notice how when the young stars go on talk-shows they often seem a little stand-offish, maybe a little snotty. My experience has made me realize that odds are they aren’t snotty, they’re scared to death. On film they can hide behind the character they are portraying. In the hot seat with Jay Leno, they have only themselves on display.