Working the night shift…
February 23, 2012

Here we are, making tv widgets.....around the clock...

Most of tend to think of people who work shift work, as perhaps factory jobs, where things roll around the clock…or maybe a 24 hour restaurant. My Dad worked over 40 years at a place that made cast iron pipe in Birmingham, Alabama. He would change shifts every two weeks as I remember. Imagine, for two weeks working 3:30am-noon, then two weeks day shift, and then two weeks 8 pm to 3:30 am….it must have been brutal, a continual sort of jet lag.

AC yes, but we didn't have a clothes dryer for years!

That was why we got air conditioning back in the day…he was trying to sleep during the hot summer months with 3 little girls running around screaming outside the windows. Yeah.

And as I’m sure some of you have noticed, I am now on the night shift. Television is also a business, like hospitals or factories, that operate 24-7. And those shifts have to be covered. So I’m working mid afternoon until after the 11 pm newscast. A man I saw at Whole Foods tonight said, “Wow, I see you on the 11 o’clock newscast. I know that’s tough.”

And while there positives and negatives  about everything…here’s the positive I have found in this move.

I have yet to achieve this look....

-I have time for all kinds of appointments! Hair, doctors, yoga class…running errands…You have good quality daytime hours to do things, and when your off hours are at night, many things aren’t open, or you don’t have the energy after work.

nap like a rock star...

Naps. I try to take a little while before I get ready for work to lie down for a little while, and maybe even take a nap…which I love. The nap is a much underrated pleasure.


-Feeding the cats. OK, that sounds truly weird, but Muffy is a grazer, and weighs almost nothing…that’s because  when I feed the cats in the morning, she nibbles and then wanders away, and Baby Girl gobbles everything she left. So now I feed Muffy several times a day, and she is actually gaining a little weight. Score!

People on the night shift. Rod Daniels(who brings in Big Pup Bandit every now and again), Kai Reed, Gerry Sandusky, Tom Tasselmyer, Jerome Chester , Sheldon Dutes…all great people I enjoy being around very much. And working on a shared project….a terrfic 11 pm newscast…is something we all share and craft together.

So it’s all good…much to my surprise, I’m enjoying being on the night shift…more than I ever thought I would. Now what has taken a beating is this blog, because I haven’t quite found the groove that allows me to do it as often. But I promise to put out a blog at least once a week. And maybe I’ll find the time to do more than that.

Someone asked had I deserted the blog for Facebook….no…but a Facebook post takes a few minutes if that, and a blog takes a block of time. If you aren’t on FB and Twitter, I encourage you to try it…you might find it much more rewarding than you think. On Twitter, I’m @donnahamiltontv, and on Facebook Donna Hamilton WBAL-TV. And it’s easy. Really.

My bowl’s better than your bowl….
February 24, 2011

Round? Square? Which one to paint?

Today was a day many of us here at WBAL looked forward to….it was almost like going back to kindegarten…craft time…a moment to stop thinking tv and start bringing out our inner artist…..painting bowls.

Black and white check....too ambitious?


Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore-here….where you can eat lots of delicious soup from various vendors at the College of Notre Dame on March 12th….AND take home a beautiful hand crafted bowl….many crafted by talented people and some by people like me.  But it’s amazing, after the bowls are painted and fired, even the clumsiest effort looks like art.

Here’s the deal…you buy a ticket for $15(preferably in advance-no guarantee of tickets at the door)…come inside, try all the soups you like, and before you leave, pick out whichever bowl suits you to take home. The ones I chose last year, Muffy and Baby Girl eat fromevery day( they won’t take food from any other container)…that’s how partial they are to their  bowls. Here’s how my artiste co-workers did with their bowls…

Tony Pann's motif...

Here is Tony Pann’s effort. Very…nice. Very …weather related.

Sky blue and yellow from Mindy Basara...

And this is from Mindy Basara….and while there were decals available which made things easier and quicker….Mindy did this free hand. Lovely.

Hands around the bowl by Stan Stovall....

Here’s is Stan Stovall’s effort….very pretty, though I must add(for veracity’s sake and full disclosure) that he used decals. Still…very nice.

Black and white...always chic, right? Right?

And here’s mine….it didn’t turn out quite the way I had pictured it, but I think when it’s glazed and shiny, it will be nice( Jackson Pollock has nothing to worry about)…and black and white fits in anywhere. Though I may still go up today and add one single drop of red in the interior. Thoughts?

Hope to see you on the 12th….remember..”As our bowls are filled, let us remember those that remain empty“…..

Where were you ten years ago today???
January 28, 2011


Assistant News Director Tim Tunison asked me that today…I just stared hi blankly, and said, ..”Ten years ago…today? I dunno…why?” He replied, “You were at the Superbowl!”  Oh yeah…and what a fantastic weekend that was….before the game Gerry Sandusky and I hosted an hour-long special from a freezing Tampa(isn’t Tampa supposed to be warm in the winter? It was not…)

I still have my ticket ..but lost my Superbowl Ring 🙂

But the Superbowl was a total, all out blast. Flyovers by Stealth Bombers, fireworks like you would not believe….

Britney was there too…..

An unbelieveable half time show that featured Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and N’Sync,  Nelly, and Mary J Blige doing “Walk this Way“-here’s a link to that show on YouTube.-(funny part where Mary J is NOT gonna share her mic with Stephen Tyler-get your own buddy)..and some pretty darn amazing football, back when Trent Dilfer was Baltimore’s hero, and so was Coach Brian Billick. The Ravens defense seemed to anticipate every play the Giants ran.

And here’s my little gift to you….if you want to relive some really terrific highlights from that game, with lots of sideline comments(some pretty spicy) from both coaches, go to Hulu-here. It’s total fun to watch….and we have a story looking back at that game tonight on 11 News at Five…hope you check it out! Have a great weekend, be kind, play nice and for Pete’s sake, come safe…’cause we miss you.

Jawbone hell…aargh!
October 5, 2010

My me the evil eye...

Ok….I ordered a Jawbone Bluetooth device, because as everyone in Maryland knows(or should know) it’s now ILLEGAL to talk on your phone without a hands free device. I want to comply with the law…obvie.

So yesterday, the Jawbone finally came in the mail….I plugged it in overnight to charge…and went about trying to set it up this morning to sync with my Blackberry(pairing they call it…like an electronic marriage, or, they’re at least dating exclusively).

It fits my ear…pretty well.

I’ve done forums what Blackberry Forums said I should.

Nothing. Just…nothing. The Blackberry refuses to go out with the Jawbone…not even a second look. Then I tried again in the newsroom, and my Blackberry started recognizing all the devices around me like crazy….aargh, NO! So it wants to play with other people’s devices, just not its own?

I think what has happened is the Blackberry somehow has sensed that this Jawbone came from Overstock(and I Love Overstock, for the most part). “Hey, lady….you order some on-sale, cut-rate little Jawbone from leftovers dot com? Overstock…what evs, lady…. I’m just supposed to roll over and like it? No way, baby…get me a Jawbone at full price or no deal!”

Overstoctober...come on, that's kinda funny...

And the truth is…that’s exactly what happened. Come on, who could resist a cupcake full of candles come-on like, “Donna what would you like to save on today?” A jawbone, that’s what. And I did, buuuuuut…it ain’t working yet. Don’t call me.

Update 5 hours later: I asked Howard Melnick, my geek-on-call here at WBAL(he’s not really a geek but he calls himself one) for help….He went online, figured it out and bingo….I’m talking on my jawbone!! Can you hear me now?

 P.S. My daughter is having to change how she spells her name so the Blackberry can voice dial her….little birth certificate change, no biggie.

Email scam part II: the real Randy stands up…
September 2, 2009

Yesterday I told you about a rather humorous email I got from someone named “Randy Gartner”, who was in peril….stranded in London, having lost his wallet and he needed 3500 buckeroos to get home! Yeah, sure fellow.  Today I had two followup emails..

This one is from Matt, an account executive here at WBAL-TV:

“Randy Gartner has informed me that someone or some group has hijacked his email directory.  Yesterday I received an email supposedly from him that he was stranded in London and needed to borrow $3545.  Randy has assured me he was never in London and did not need the money.  If you happen to receive the same email, please delete it immediately. “

And a reader wrote me too saying she too knew a Randy Gartner who worked at this particular company….and the would never have written an email like that.

So I called poor Randy after hijacking his phone number from Matt. When did he first find out about the scam? Yesterday morning around 6:45 am, when his next door neighbor called and said, “Randy, I didn’t know you were in London..”

Bernie, what are you talking about?” says Randy…and then he learns the bitter truth…that his Verizon email had been hijacked and the scam emails, sent to  his entire contact list.  So embarrassing. And because Randy is in marketing , that contact list is pretty extensive. So, he did the next logical thing…rushed to the computer to send a blast email to all his contacts, saying “Hey, that is a scam email…I’m not in London, I’m not in trouble…don’t reply!!”

Here’s the scary part….wait for it….his entire inbox and contact list was…gonedisappeared….blank as the day it was created. No doubt so he couldn’t do exactly what he was planning to do. And that my friends, is most unsettling…that someone far away can somehow, hijack your email and talk to people you know, and ask them for money.

Most people who received it, Randy says knew something was off…the odd wording, that he would ask them for money….but still, they were concerned that someone they knew, might be in trouble. He got a call from a friend at the Masons, of which he is a member…who said in all seriousness, “Randy, you know you can come to your brothers if you’re in trouble..”  And it’s nice to know there are people like that, willing to lend a helping hand….but you sure don’t want their help going to a scam artist. So Randy is sadder, and wiser…he says he will still use email …of course he will.  But he’ll be more careful about the ones he responds to, like a request for an information update. He’ll pick up the phone instead. And now he’s in touch with the police and the fraud squad at Verizon to try to figure out what happened and how, and by whom. I felt kinda bad, because I really thought it was a made up name and stuff…I had no idea a real person here in Baltimore had been hijacked. Be careful people….

No Show Today!!
June 18, 2009

Tigers Happy Dance...I can relate...

Tiger's Happy Dance...I can relate...

OK, number one…an apology for not blogging all this week…sometimes the week just gets by me.  Scusi…pardone…you know. Anyway…when I came in this morning, Mindy Basara rushed over….ok, that means news, and not the kind you put on television, if you know what I mean. And it just so happens, in this instance, I can share it with you. Other times, I’d get sued or fired, so….sorry. 

Did you know there’s no 5:00 show tonight?” , she exclaimed…I probably looked pretty dazed and confused…”noooo“, I say slowly. She explains, “It’s golf !” Oh yeah, I do remember seeing something on The Today Show this morning about the U.S. Open starting today, and wondered how it might impact  Eleven News at Five, and now I’s blowing it out of the water…today and tomorrow. So I will not have the pleasure of sharing that hour together with you, that quality time that we usually get…I will be…ummmm…well, blogging, for one thing. Now that I don’t have a newscast to think about, that frees up time for this very thing.

And I have my mammogram today….so I won’t feel so pressured to get in and out like a flash. I was writing a story just a couple of weeks ago, about how mammograms have dropped in the U.S., across all age and socioeconomic groups, and I thought to myself….when was my last mammogram? I called and got the answer…2007. Oooops. So I made my appointment right then and there, and today is the day!  I know a lot of people dread them…but you know, it’s just a moment of discomfort, some would call it pain…but just when you get ready to say, “Hey lady that really hurts!”, it stops. I can take anything for a second or two.

Tomorrow there is no 5:00 newscast as well….so I will write a story that I had to get written anyway…I’ll just have more time to do it, and maybe work on some other projects for the future. Maybe I’ll even get crazy and eat lunch out, instead of at my desk….imagine that! But no worries, I will be back with you again…Monday, at five o’clock…and yes, I will watch the U-S Open. And while I like the rest of the world, worship at the feet of the the master, Tiger Woods…I will secretly root for Angel Cabrera to pull off an upset. I like him….but I don’t know…Tiger is healthy this year, which makes him seem insurmountable, but you never know. You just never know.

Me and My Teleprompter…
June 11, 2009

Funny story....

Funny story....

You may have seen an amusing story on The Today Show by Jamie Gangel about President Obama’s love for his teleprompter(in which the prompter actually gives a hysterical  interview). Presidents have used prompters for years, but evidentally this President takes his almost everywhere. Hey, I get that. It does help get rid of that dastardly trio of  unwanted verbal tics we all have…the  ummms, the you knows, and the ahhhs. Teleprompter is my friend..usually. I love my prompter…even though it has changed (of course)over the years. Haven’t we all?

When I first started in the business, prompter was a paper copy of the script, all the scripts were taped together and had to be run through a machine. As you can imagine, it was not uncommon for the paper to get hung up in the machine…oops, bad tape job, and …that was that until they got it straightened out.

Today, it’s all electronic….complete with all the problems that come along with that. While the producer can change things from the control room and update the scripts or add things as needed, ( and this can also can be tricky…when you see something different than you expect to see, your brain wonders for that split second, is that right?) electronic problem as we all know can be….as sticky as a bad tape job. Sometimes Mr. Prompter gets stuck on a script and just loops it over and over. Sometimes the person operating Mr. Prompter gets distracted and forgets to roll him. Or rolls his too fast. Or too slow. And sometimes it jus goes black, though none of this is a common occurance. And it is subject to typos. I try very ard, oops, I mean hard,  to catch all of those before we get to air, but sometimes things get put in at the last minute and the lack of or addition of a single letter can make a word or sentence unintelligible. Like “They can’t go far”..could be “They cart go for.” And you have to try to make sense of it, on the spot. Sometime I even succeed. But I have finished reads before and in the break said, “Ah for the want of a letter…” And just like a bad boyfriend, prompter is  better if it’s just gone, than to pop in and out, which leads to feelings of insecurity and anxiety…will it be there, is it gonna leave any second? When it’s down, at least you know you’re on your own.

It always surprises me when someone thinks we memorize all those words….ummmmm, no.(Sorry..had no prompter for that.) I know how President Obama feels about his prompter….a curious, needy, not very emotional but very real relationship. Mr. Prompter ain’t perfect, but my life is better with him, than without him. And so is the newscast you watch. Trust me on this. Oh, and the President’s prompter has its own name and blog …. TOTUS…it is pretty funny… he calls the President “the big guy”. As this anonymous blogger says, “There is no potus without Totus!”.

The Sky is Falling!!!!
January 29, 2009


I took this picture peeking around the corner....

I took this picture peeking around the corner....

You might think this post is about the economy, and it could be…but it’s not. When I say the sky is falling today, I’m being much more literal. When folks at WBAL-TV came to work yesterday and today, we were instructed not to park in the station parking lot…..Why? Because a big chunk of ice might fall from the tv tower above, and 1. Crush your car. 2.(much worse)Crush your head. Now the head crushing has never happened, though it’s been close…vehicles have fared much worse over the years.

So yesterday as ice began falling from the sky, our news director Michelle was actually driving people herself  to and from a more distant parking lot….as she said, you never know what the job is gonna call for. But  by today they had a professional driver from On Trak Transportation LLC   ferrying us back and forth to Cross Keys(update: Ok this guy is also very handsome..I didn’t mention it before because I didn’t want too seem  like a stalker, but as a couple other women at the station brought it up, it’s now fair game-he is cute.)….Somehow we got on the subject of limos…and he said, “Now you guys are talking my language“. And he may have a customer…one lovely WBAL employee is planning her wedding and is pricing limo service. Bingo! So I pass the info along to you, as he was very nice, a great driver and has a kid in college and one who’s three and six others in between… about a busy man.

I took a chance today at lunchtime…grabbed the ride back to Cross Keys…and brought my car back to the station. I’m just hoping the worst of the ice situation has passed. If not, I’ll show you a picture of my smashed windshield tomorrow!

I was right…it is…all about the hair.
November 18, 2008

See it? See the hair? Love the the hair!!

See it? See the hair? Love the the hair!!

Again with the hair!! You may find this hard to believe…I did…and then again , I didn’t….but our website here at WBAL TV….has had 67-thousand hits on our “hair then and now” post. The one with Jayne Miller and curly locks….me in much shorter hair, oh the hairdos, the hairdos, the hairdos-dos-dos-dos! It’s still on the front page, getting more hits. (And my hair is different still from my most recent photo).



If we had all the money we have collectively spent on color, cuts, glossing creams, shampoo and conditioner, stylists, mousse, straightening cream, silicone gels, flatirons, hairdryers(now one knows but the hairdryer graveyard)….and just gooey stuff to make you hair look better, we could all take a trip to the Carribbean….a really nice trip.

You may be thinking wow, how shallow is that…all that attention on hair. And yes, you are correct,  at first glance seems to be …a vanity issue. And I suppose it is, but Corbin (who you saw doing Deborah Weiner’s hair, and whom I have also known for over 20 years) put it this way. Or something like this. “It’s all about the framing. You look at someone on television, and you have to like the silhouette, the look,….because if you don’t, chances are you might just use the clicker.” Horrors. We definitely do not want that. And many viewers are not shy at all about sharing their opinions of how our hair looks. Yeah.  Soooooooo, we worry with our hair, and curl it and color it and straighten it and gloss it. But really, we’re not so different from anyone else….not at all. Most women (and many many men)spend a great deal of time and $$$$ on their locks. Hair ain’t called “the crowning glory” for nothing. But still….67-thousand hits. Really?

Sometimes it’s the little things….
September 9, 2008

An Insta weather umbrella of my very own!

An Insta weather umbrella of my very own!

Like an umbrella. I lost my favorite umbrella a few weeks ago…classic black with a silver plated handle that came from England….sounds expensive and it looked it(probably why it’s gone)…but the thing only cost 20 bucks…Got it at the shop London in St. Michaels. Come to think of it the last time I was in there, I put my name, on a list to get another one when it came it and they never called me!! But nevertheless, I have been umbrella-less, except for a broken spoke, blue ,dogeared umbrella with a hole in the nylon. Seriously…raggedy.

So, as I was leaving today to get a salad, with the rain pouring outside…I went with a sad …very pitiful…face to our Promotion Manager…they have all kinds of WBAL goodies….cups, hats, shirts…things that are guarded pretty closely. But they do have great umbrellas…big, really sturdy, and pretty..with the vents that keep it from blowing inside out. All you have to do is walk around with WBAL Insta-Weather printed on the outside. Hey, I don’t mind.  Steve told me  he didn’t have any, but a certain person in the building had and I quote, “thousands of them in their office”. Hmmmmm….I’m on my way.

And there they are, in the office of the Operations Manager..oops I’ve just been corrected…Director of News Operations (or Lord of all he surveys, another adds in a witty fashion) ….In addition to all his other responsibilities, and there are many…he is also evidentally in charge of the umbrellas. “You don’t have a WBAL umbrella?”, he says, after I make my request. “No, I never have had one.”

“All anchors and reporters are supposed to have one, to keep in their car”….for shoots I guess…you’ve seen reporters standing around in the rain haven’t you, doing their live shots, no matter the weather? You are supposed to have a standard issue for just such an occasion. He goes to the box and draws one out….”Here. And keep it in your car.” So bossy. But then again, he is a boss. Anyway…it’s the little things, like having an umbrella in your car, on a rainy day. Thanks Stroh!