My first TV news appearance: CNN interview, Easter 2011

This past Sunday (Easter 2011) was a pretty interesting day for me. I did my first-ever TV news appearance — I was interviewed live on CNN by Fredricka Whitfield about how mobile phone users are more vulnerable to e-mail phishing attempts. Here’s the video (sorry about the annoying preroll ads)…

CNN tech Writer Amy Gahran talks to CNN about… by BeyondPixBroadcast

And here’s the transcript.

Now that you’ve seen the finished product, here’s the backstory….

My interview was scheduled for 11:40 am. CNN arranged to have a car pick me up at my home in Oakland to drive me across the Bay Bridge to a TV studio in San Francisco. The pickup time was 9:30 am — a bit on the early side, but you never know about bridge traffic, even on a weekend holiday. The driver actually came early, and there was no traffic, so I arrived at the studio around 9:45 am.

I rang the buzzer on the building’s outer door, which was locked. No one answered. Tried again a few minutes later, and nothing. Ten minutes later, still nothing. I verified I had the correct address, but saw no signage indicating a TV studio was in that building.

So I called CNN headquarters to see if they had an on-site contact for the studio. They gave me a number that sent me to the voice mail for their Los Angeles bureau. Not helpful. After three more calls to CNN, I finally learned that this building wasn’t their studio — it’s an independent studio they lease time at (pretty normal for TV).

CNN staff was apparently searching around for an on-site contact, and I was getting a bit nervous at that point. Since a lot of media & CNN people follow me on Twitter, I posted for help there too. But didn’t get much response. Hey, it was a holiday for many…

Nearly an hour after I arrived, someone finally came down to let me inside. I waited in the studio (alone, surprisingly) for a bit. Then around 11am the makeup artist arrived. Shortly after the engineer walked in. Then a second engineer arrived — who, as it turned out, was redundant, so he went home.

This is who.. er.. what was interviewing me at CNN. I now suspect that the "C" in CNN stands for "Cylon".

The interview itself was pretty quick. But I wasn’t actually talking to Fredricka Whitfield. She was just a disembodied voice in my ear. I was sitting in a chair in front of the CNN backdrop. I snapped a photo of what I was actually talking to (see left).

Once everyone was on site, it all ran smoothly. And that’s my point here — TV people often pull things together at the last minute, but they do manage to pull it all together, on a daily basis, and it works. I just happened to be unfamiliar with their process.

Now I know to expect that unless you’re going to a full-time network studio, people may not show up until the last minute. Which makes sense if a network is leasing studio time — which I gather does not come cheaply.

After my interview, the driver was kind enough to drop me at Dolores Park, in time for the annual Easter celebration of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Here are my photos. (Note: Some are not safe for work.)

It was a blast! I especially loved the Hunky Jesus competition. (The winner was “Jesus F*cking Christ”, but my favorite was “Son of Godzilla.”) And of course, there were many exultant cries of “He is risen!” and “Ahh… men! Ahh… women! And Ahhheverything in between!”

I only regretted that I was wearing full-on business attire. But at least with the TV studio makeup overload still fairly fresh on my face, I did blend in a bit with this crowd. At least in spirit. I definitely felt like I was playing dress-up.

After the Hunky Jesus competition, I strolled over to Revolution Cafe on 22nd street to enjoy some live jazz…

Live Jazz at Revolution Cafe, SF, Easter 2011

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