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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Hemmer still sees signs for hope in devastated Haiti.

In Movies & TV Commentary

Jay Leno says there's no animosity in NBC's mess. "This is all business."

OnMedia: Hemmer's six "heartbreaking" days reporting from Haiti


Bill Hemmer had just arrived at an airbase in Florida when I talked to him Monday afternoon. He had just completed a reporting stint in Port-au-Prince that started last Wednesday, the day after a powerful earthquake struck the Haitian capital.

"It is such a difficult story to relay to people, because it's so overwhelmingly awful ... the sheer enormity of human need," said the Fox News Channel anchor, a veteran correspondent who has seen rough situations before.

"Professionally we're taken to a lot of tough areas," he said. "Nothing has prepared you for an experience like this. Every person in that city has a story, they're all heartbreaking, not one is a happy story."

In terms of logistics, Hemmer and crew found a hotel on the outskirts of the Haitian capital. "It was very accommodating." From that base -- "a bit of an oasis" -- he, a producer and a photographer would hit the city as the sun came up to chronicle the stories of the survivors.

Despite the overwhelming tragedy, Hemmer leaves Haiti with hopeful stories.

"We met numerous Americans," he said. "They're at the airport trying to get out, and they're torn between trying to stay or go."

He recalled a 25-year-old woman from Wisconsin with "brilliant blue eyes" at the airport.

"I was gonna go home," he quoted her as saying. "But I can't go home now because I work for an orphanage, and I have to go back."

Until sometime over the weekend, cellphones and black berries didn't work, but modern TV technology allowed him to get on the air.

"We were broadcasting from the moon, as someone said."

While there have been reports of reporters confronted by angry quake survivors, Hemmer said, "I experienced none of that. Yes, they ask you for food. Yes, they ask you for water."

Hemmer said the need for clean, fresh water is greater than the need for food in Haiti.

I asked how hard it is to handle the memories of the horrors he'd seen in Haiti. Hemmer responded by speaking of another reporter talking of a "secret cabinet for those kind of memories."

Hemmer, himself, didn't want to dwell on those memories. "If we allowed that to effect us, we couldn't do our job."

In fact, he spoke of stories of hope, of rescues from the rubble and how he was "stunned by the resiliency of the Haitian people."

Here's video of one of his stories:

"I'm a half-glass-full guy," Hemmer said. "I always try to find the goodness. You can find that in that city, as hellish as it was."

Reflecting on the disaster scene he'd just left, he said, "you feel like a part of you is left behind."

On radio: Chicago media guru Robert Feder points to more circumstantial evidence that Jonathon Brandmeier will soon be in radio earshot of his native Wisconsin. Feder blogs that Brandmeier, who was fired in November by Chicago's WLUP-FM, got a personal tour of the WGN-AM (720) studios on Saturday from the program director.

  • It'll be easy to follow the results from Massachusetts' pivotal Senate election tonight on the cable news channels, but radio's tougher. Satellite subscribers can find election coverage on Sirius channel 110/XM channel 130 starting at 7 tonight.
  • Speaking of Massachusetts, liberal talker Ed Schultz, whose show airs on Racine's WRJN-AM (1400) at 11 a.m. weekdays, is under fire for saying he'd "cheat" to insure the victory of Democrat Martha Coakley.
  • An Internet radio outlet devoted to this year's Grammy nominees is available at the Grammy Web site. Click on "radio." CBS airs the awardscast on Jan. 31.

Jay fires back: Using the platform of his dying 9 p.m. show last night, Jay Leno offered his side of the mess at NBC.

"Through all of this -- through all of this, Conan O'Brien has been a gentleman. He's a good guy," said Leno, whose own good-guy image has been damaged in this battle over "The Tonight Show. "I have no animosity towards him. This is all business."

Here's the video:


Talkbacks

cuprisin | Jan. 19, 2010 at 4:04 p.m. (report)

Mo: There hasn't been a Fairness Doctrine since the 1980s. If it existed, modern talk radio wouldn't.

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mowokyboy | Jan. 19, 2010 at 2:21 p.m. (report)

Ed Schultz's comment was moronic. On the other hand, it seems that the Fairness Doctrine does not exist at all on Boston radio, as most on-air talent are endorsing Brown, running PSA's for Brown, or just being anti-Coakley.

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tommcmahon | Jan. 19, 2010 at 11:32 a.m. (report)

Johnny B on WGN? Now THAT would be a good fit. Something fresh for both him and the station.

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