SIDEBAR: My first inauguration was in 1987. I covered Governor Casey's first day in office for WARM. It was a great time. It was just me, my tape recorder and a giant microphone. Security wasn't what it is today, and I was allowed to wander about. There was a nice moment on the capitol steps, right after the ceremony ended, when I had the chance to ask the new governor a few questions as he strode back in to the building. Try that today. I went to the inaugural ball in Hershey that night, and I admit that was not my best work. Looking back, I think a radio kid was too intimidated to really get in there and capture the color of the night.
My next inauguration was the day Tom Ridge was sworn in, in 1995. I had moved to WYOU by then. My task was to do a preview for the morning news and a piece for the evening news. Anchor Rich Everitt had the main evening stores, plus the inaugural ball. It was a fun day.
I was back in the preview business by the time Tom Wolf rolled around in 2015. Photographer Jason and I drove in to Harrisburg early in the morning and we took off after Newswatch 16 This Morning ended. It was a good mix-- veteran reporter and young photographer. It was nice to see his enthusiasm at covering a big event, even if it was a preview, hours before the swearing in.
Okay, back to 2023. A few days after that initial conversation with the morning executive producer, Brigid, I was told I was the guy. No problem. I then took a deep dive in to the WNEP archives and came up with two pieces. One was an election year in review. The other was a look back at Josh Shapiro's six years as attorney general.
As is my wont, I banged out the pieces rather quickly, but I did tweak a few times leading up to inauguration day. It was a trip back to the office last week, on one of my days off, to record my narration. The pieces were then handed off to photographer/editor Jason.
Inauguration morning arrived. I was in the office around midnight just to do some reading and to see if anything needed to be changed. It all looked good. Jason and I headed for Harrisburg around 1:45 am. Yes, it was early, but I factor in time to visit a rest stop on the way. Plus, I like to do a site survey upon arrival. That always takes a few minutes.
We checked out the lay of the land. There was a media area on Commonwealth Avenue. I didn't like that. I've never been one for the pack/herd mentality on events like this. Jason and I spied an angle we liked better. It did involve parking in a restricted VIP area and driving the wrong way on a one way street. The latter was not an issue. The road was blocked off, anyway. When we hit the sweet spot, a security guard approached. I pleasantly explained who we were and what we hoped to accomplish. I added that we would vacate the premises by 7:00 am. The guard could not have been nicer and more professional.
If one thing went wrong, it was this. I overdressed for the cold, and Harrisburg wasn't all that bad. There was a bulky sweater and a puffy vest beneath my WNEP coat. I should have shed the vest.
Television is much easier these days. We're not tied to a big truck. The gear is lighter and portable. We can wander at will. Jason lit me, and framed me nicely, and the morning broadcast looked great. The dome is a stirring sight, especially at night. After our last update, at 6:30 am, it was back in the car for the ride home.
There was a complication. Rain approached and there was the possibility of freezing rain. Jason and I repeatedly checked the weather radar on our phones. It didn't look good. Just what you need on a road trip! Luck was on our side. We encountered one fast sprinkle as we left Harrisburg and it was dry all the way home.
Harrisburg, see you in eight years!