Monday, March 24, 2014

Training my inner journalist young

A memory from my childhood came back to me recently while I was producing alone during the weekend.

I’ve always had an ear for the people screaming and whispering on police scanners.

My older brother, who was probably in high school, was stuck babysitting his hyperactive and nosey little sister. I was a young girl-- I’d say in elementary school at that point.

After he’d feed me all of the cereal and coke I could handle, we’d sit in his bed and turn up his police scanner as loud as possible. We’d sit there and he’d tell me to stay as quiet as I can and listen closely.

He’d pay attention to the codes and streets of our local police department to figure out where they were and what was happening. I’d pretend to know exactly what was going on. Once something sparked his interest, we’d pack up in his extended cab El Camino and drive until we saw red and blue lights ahead of us.

We’d park out of harm’s way and watch like the snooping kids we were.

Listening to the scanner is now part of my day-to-day job. I can have an ear bud in one ear, write a script, carry on a Facebook conversation and still hear every word on the scanners.

Just like my brother, I now have to figure out whether it’s worth driving out to any location after hearing the very few words chirped over the frequency.

People who understand scanners know there are some points in the day you’d like to throw the black box straight across the room. Other times you’re talking to dispatch and officers on the scene as if they’re sitting right next to you.
“Brush fire at akejfsekhiuo.”

“Come on. Say that again. Where are you?”

“Caller says they can see flames and smoke coming out of a house on Main Street. Fully involved.”

After this flashback of my childhood, playing co-pilot to an interesting call with my older brother to the left of me, I have a reignited love for the sounds and squeaks that come out of that block of noise.

(Of course, I do not suggest bonding with your siblings by taking them to crime scenes! Let’s hope my parents don’t read this post.)

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