Interview with Katie Parker- an Expectant First-Time Mother

Interviewing is a part of my daily life, something I do with my phone rather often and a personal favorite part of reporting. I enjoy being able to connect with a source and have them feel like they are being heard, then taking that and giving it a voice on the outside.

Katie Parker is expecting her first child, sitting in the nursery ready for Nollie’s arrival, she reflects on her hopes for her daughter.

Katie Parker is my best friend, which I know may mean I’m too close to the subject to be objective. I decided to interview her because I know she has a fantastic story to tell. Her daughter, Arnolda Ruth Parker (Nollie, for short,) is due in December almost 12 months to the day that her grandfather was told he had 6 months left to live after a colon cancer diagnosis. He’s still kicking, with the intention of being there to see his first grandchild. I honestly think that Katie saved her father’s life by bringing another life into the world and if that story touches me that much, I was certain it would make an excellent audio feature.

I went to hang out with Katie while she showed me the nursery, the cute outfits she’s already gotten for Nollie and continued my ongoing education on how cloth diapers work; a skill I will need to know as a proud Auntie. She asked me to wait until she had put on make-up and took her hair out of a bun before I took her photo, cursing about clothes not fitting right anymore, and then sat in the baby’s nursery. The rocking chair she is sitting on was her husband’s grandmother’s and has sentimental value. She said of the experience that “Taking the picture was the most awkward part.”

This project surprised me because while I had an idea of how I wanted the final story to turn out, Katie’s eloquence in the initial interview lent itself well to a full-on emotional journey. I easily could have produced a story much longer than this about Randy’s struggle with cancer, Katie and Justin’s first baby and Amy’s fantastic mothering. If I could do something different, I wish I would have been able to interview more than one person to complete the story, but I know that was not the assignment.

I really enjoyed editing this project. I took some of the tips that Micah from WPR had given me about scoring and tried to put them to use in the final mix. I was very happy with the way it turned out, and how organizing the interview the way I did kept the story arc tight and cohesive. I adore audio and I anticipate it being a part of my life for a long time. As a radio professional, I use audio every single day (sometimes even when I don’t want to.)

Audio is my favorite medium, versatile, easy to learn, easier to get better at and so impactful when done right– I hope to keep recording and editing audio until I go deaf in my old age.

 

Ghost Hunters in Gold Hill Stay The Night In Haunted Hotel

High in the mountains above Boulder in Colorado, one can drive off the asphalt, around some hairpin turns and find themselves in a living piece of history: Gold Hill, Colo. The streets are dirt, but every few steps, you can find plaques dedicated to telling the history of the town. One plaque tells you about the old firehouse that once stood on that spot, but ironically burned down in the 1910s. Another placard will tell you the story of the original one-room schoolhouse and its expansion into the school that stands in the same location and has to have three rooms at the very least.

A little further down the dirt road, with a stunning original exterior, National Historic Landmark Designation plaques out front, and a covered porch stands the twin buildings that hold much of the history of the town. The Gold Hill Inn is a regular destination, known for the multiple course meals and specials for lunch and dinner. Directly next to it sits a quieter building that is only rented out in its entirety, rather than room by room. The Bluebird Lodge has stood tall over Gold Hill since 1872 and has seen many uses in its long history. From a boarding house, to a hospital, to a ladies’ lodge, the historic building has scarcely been empty and may still contain remnants of its history to be uncovered by those with open minds.

The main entrance to the lodge, with the library on the right hand side.

Ghostly Gatherers

On a chilly October evening, a group of like-minded individuals gathered in the kitchen and dining room of the Bluebird Lodge, discussing what brought them to Gold Hill. One couple told stories about their youngest daughter’s strong connection with the paranormal, another couple contained a believer and a skeptic who came along to be supportive, but all of the participants had one thing in common. They had come to try to make contact with ghosts. Gold Hill had been taken over by two dozen ghost hunters, ready to spend the night in a haunted hotel and take a trip to the Gold Hill cemetery in the moonlight.

This event was one of many of its kind put on by Altitude Paranormal Group, located in the Denver Metro area. The group, led by Grayson McGraw, spends time investigating places around Colorado that are purported to be haunted. “I bought a few basic pieces of equipment in 2009 and started going to places by myself,” McGraw said to the group assembled in the dining room. “And my second time going out to a place, I caught a recording of a spirit saying “Grayson, I’m here,“ clear as day!”

The typical kit of ghost hunting equipment will usually contain a digital voice recorder for capturing Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs,) flashlights, thermometers to track changes in temperature, laser grids for ease of seeing apparitions, and the popular Spirit Box. The Spirit Box is a relatively new device in ghost hunting, but one that the community has taken to very quickly for its versatility. The device is essentially an FM radio scanner, but it scans at such a fast rate of 1/15th of a second per frequency, any words or voices coming through are said to be that of a spirit attempting to communicate.

The Gold Hill Cemetery is much more inviting during the daytime.

The Hunt Begins

Grayson and the other Altitude Paranormal Group investigator, Brandi Baker, separated the group in half. One half began with Grayson on the trek to the Gold Hill cemetery, while the others with Brandi remained in the lodge to conduct their first session. “I started going on investigations probably five or six years ago with my sister. She was always interested in it as well,” Baker said. “We went to a couple of Grayson’s events and enjoyed that they were down to earth rather than dramatic. I could tell Grayson was serious and had evidence to back up his claims.”

Both groups experienced an abnormally large amount of activity. In the cemetery, Grayson’s group made contact through the Spirit Box with an Army veteran, who said he had a son named Michael. “If we find a Michael, we will tell him we heard from you, sir,” McGraw said. At the same time, spirits were playing pranks on Brandi’s group back at the lodge. “The spirit was messing with this one girl and kept coming through the spirit box telling her to sit down, stand up, sit down, and then laughed when she got frustrated,” Baker recalled of the first session in the house.

The large group spent the night in the haunted Bluebird Lodge, but never felt threatened by any spirits. One guest on the event was seven months pregnant and felt the soothing presence of a nurse come through the spirit box, conversing intelligently with her for several minutes about her baby. As Altitude Paranormal Group wrapped up the event, parting words resonated with everyone. “If you don’t believe in the paranormal, all I have to say is wait for one of those puzzle pieces in your life to be taken away. A parent, a grandparent, a sibling,” McGraw said. “If you don’t experience something in the first 90 days after that, I’ll be surprised.”

Found Situations, Sports, and Human Faces

Spending a few weeks finding the perfect situations to shoot some quality photojournalism shots proved to be harder than I had expected. I found my biggest problem ended up being with camera equipment, as I used three different cameras for the project and you can likely tell. For the Downtown Mashup, I had a camera that did not cope well with the dark location, so I had to find opportunities to use the ambient light to my advantage. For the roller derby tournament, all of my photos were taken while I was on skates myself in a referee capacity!

Photo Booth Mashup

Lucille Sigel (Center) poses with her friends at the successful Downtown Mashup photo booth.

I spent several minutes inside the Historic Train Depot at the Downtown Mashup trying to find a way to get photos where faces were turned towards me, they were well-lit and had an interesting expression. While most groups huddled in clusters around the crowded room, the line for the photo booth caught my attention as excited children crowded around the table to try on various props. Lucy just happened to be framed perfectly as I stood on a bench to shoot between the existing camera equipment. Her mother was excited about the photo I captured and gave me her name enthusiastically.

Dancing the Night Away

Abigail Lindskog dances along to The Woodpile, despite the rain at the Downtown Mashup in Downtown Laramie, Wyoming.

Abigail certainly noticed I was there, as I was crouching in a puddle directly in front of the amplifiers to capture her photo, using the lights from the stage to illuminate her face as she danced. After about 50 shots, I finally captured on where her facial expression and motion was apparent. This was during the first act of the night and it was raining on and off, but little Abigail loved the music so much that she couldn’t keep still.

Blocking Jamz

“Razzberry Jazz,” jams and is blocked by a young Butcher Babes Skater.

This photo could be considered a confusing perspective. The young lady in black is wearing a helmet cover that denotes her as the “jammer,” kind of like the running-back on the roller derby track. She obtains a point for every opposing skater she passes the hips of and the girl in the pink helmet is working to prevent that from happening by blocking her.

Who’s House? Slaughterhouse! 

Greeley, Colorado’s Slaughterhouse Butcher Babes celebrate their win over the FoCo Spartan Babes in the 2nd Annual Fall Brawl.

I love this photo because of how excited the kids are. During the Fall Brawl, the Butcher Babes’ rival team, the FoCo Spartan Babes brought their B and C team to the tournament. The home team was able to bring a win against their rivals and I captured this image during their final chant of “WHO’S HOUSE? SLAUGHTERHOUSE!” before the score was made official and they won 74 – 151.

Paul Revere Rides Again

Riding their modern steed, a Grand Lake, Colorado couple celebrates Constitution Week by participating in the town Parade.

My favorite photo by far, I had not expected to capture photos like this while on a weekend getaway to Grand Lake with my best friend and her family. As it was Constitution Week, I was surprised upon getting there to learn there was a parade, fireworks, BBQ contest, and other festivities planned for the weekend in the small vacation town in the Rocky Mountains. The parade was small, by Jubilee Days standards, but everyone participating in it was enthusiastic, dressed up, and very patriotic.

Betsy Ross Waves Her Flag

Resident of Grand Lake, Colorado celebrates Constitution Week by participating in the town parade, dressed as Betsy Ross.

Celebrating the flag, constitution, and American founding fathers, the Grand Lake Constitution Week Parade was worth the trip itself up into the mountains! I especially loved this event because there wasn’t a single angry or upset face in sight. Kids were running into the street to get candy, people were excitedly calling about the various floats, and townsfolk were excited to show off the personality of the very patriotic town. This float was part of a procession of political floats, including the Grand County Republicans (in an H2 Hummer) and the Grand County Democrats (both of them.)

Creative Camera Captures and Stunning Succulent Snaps

Creative devices are one of those things that becomes pretty ingrained and difficult to articulate as you take more and more photos. As a previous photographic communications major at my previous institution, I grew to abhor taking photos simply because it began to feel more like a formula than an actual enjoyable interaction. Capturing authentic moments through photojournalism is much more rewarding, especially when you can insert a human element into the image without them posing or waiting for the shutter to click.

(For real, that is my least favorite interaction; waiting for a shutter to click or watching plastered smiles and sorority squats as people wait for a photo to be taken.)

Below are my creative device photos, though I would be comfortable printing any of them as accompanying photos for a journalistic story about the conservatory, sustainability of local plants, or a blog post about my obvious love for succulents. My favorite of these photos is a toss up between “Peeking Succulents,” and the profile photo of Dr. Landreville, though in the latter I wish I was able to edit it for contrast and levels.

Texture

This photo offers a fun contrasting texture, as well as a balanced image with where the sun is hitting the terra cotta pot. I enjoy that the first texture that comes to mind is “Soft and fuzzy,” until you look at it closely and realize it is a cactus that is almost certainly not.

Framing

I call this photo “Peeking Succulents,” because I enjoy anthropomorphizing flora. The three separate pots and plants are all separated by the poles of the stairway railing, segmenting the photo into thirds and making a more interesting image.

Leading Lines

I enjoyed this image because the leading lines all pull the eye into the conservatory. The railing on the right side of the image, the reflection and the shadows all pull the eye to the large cactus, and even the lines on the cactus itself pull the eye in further.

Rule of Thirds

This photo also includes a human element that I think lends it a photojournalistic quality. Dr. Landreville is framed in the left third of the photo, juxtaposed by the large arrangement of flora. She is in profile, and so the photo emotes as well. I think the photo also includes framing and balancing elements.

Establishing Size

These cacti were so large, I had to step down the stairs into the lower level to get them all in frame. With the railing, windows, and pots in the frame, this lends an establishing shot to the size of these cacti.

Creating Depth

The reflection in the water and the fact that the ground is more in focus than the background elements, including the people in the photo makes this a good example of creating depth.

If you can’t tell, I really like succulents.

Too Sleep Deprived to Read Directions Properly

Please see my previous post to see the introduction to the theme of this blog. If you haven’t figured it out from the loud, huge font screaming headline… I am not a morning person. Thus my entire day is one long sleep deprived blur sometimes, and even though I set out to do the assignment properly, I failed. Yet another struggle.

I spent a while looking through previous classes blogs. I was excited to see some skills that I can add to my repertoire that will be useful in any facet of the media industry. I’m especially excited to learn about video production and social media management. I’ve been a journalist for most of my adult life. I started out in it because I was interested in learning about many different topics to write about. Eventually, the journalism bug got under my skin and made me value getting the truth out to a large audience.

As my journalism career evolved, entertainment and bringing awareness to causes and small businesses became my calling. If I were to write purely about what I was most interested in, this would be a blog entirely about haunted historical wild-west hotels and forts. Of course, that wouldn’t make for a very ‘current events’ styled blog. Instead, I’ve decided to flex my writing voice and cover a variety of topics, all pulled together by the current branding I use in my professional life: Being sleep deprived and under-caffeinated.

The next challenge I hope to tackle will be public relations. Directing communications in a non-profit or medium-sized business would be my dream job. As a radio DJ, I can get the word out about meaningful causes, events, and small businesses, but writing feature stories about interesting connections, historical backgrounds, and other slice-of-life types of stories seem to be my favorite way to make an impact.

 

Struggles, Successes, and Subsequent Sleepiness of Waking Up Stupidly Early

I am neither a night owl, nor a morning bird. I’m some sort of perpetually exhausted pigeon.

With my first college experience, I tried not to schedule a class before noon, because my own sleep inabilities would inevitably sabotage me. Knowing your limits is important. Fast-forward to five years after and apparently I am a masochist, because I accepted a job as an early morning radio DJ. I’ve always been loquacious, and as my mama told me, “my big mouth would get me a job someday.”

My day starts now at 5 am. Yes. Stupidly early. Well, rather, my alarm system starts at 5 am. My first alarm is set to go off at 5 am, with the most obnoxious air horn I could find. The next alarm is at 5:15 am and features several math problems I have to complete in order to turn it off. I then typically sleep for another fifteen minutes until my final alarm.

This is the mack-daddy of alarms. It features an air-raid siren at 80 decibels, rattling my brain and making me instinctively try to snooze it. SURPRISE. The snooze button only works for 15 seconds at a time, pulling me rudely into wakefulness just enough to be frustrated and look for the method of turning it off. This is the coup de grace. This alarm can only be turned off by scanning the bar code on the back of my shampoo, which is in the show across my house from my warm, comfortable bed. This forces me to actually get up out of bed, and begrudgingly begin my day.

My life then becomes a mad dash to get to the radio station before my first break. I will typically tell my listeners to expect me to get more coherent as the coffee hits my system and I can finally form sentences that make sense to the rest of Laramie, and not just myself. This show continues from 6 am to 10 am, where I’m expected to be high-energy, funny, and not hating life for being up too early. The latter requirement is the hardest of the three.

Fast-forward through the rest of the day, when I pop between the station and campus, riding the bus back and forth, writing posts, producing audio, and then I will finally get home around 5-6 pm. That’s when the reason for the struggle detailed above becomes clear. I complete my homework, take my dog out and about, and then rush to get to practice. As a roller derby skater, I skate every other day and go to the gym on off days. That’s an extra two hours, so when I get home at 9 pm, it’s time to finish housework, homework, and any other work I’ve missed, and finally crawl into bed around midnight, if not later.

And then I lay in bed, listening to podcasts and begging the sandman to knock my ass out. He doesn’t always listen. And then it starts all over again. Welcome to my perpetual cycle of sleep deprivation, and the reason for any snarkiness you may find in this blog. Sorry, not sorry.