Here's the call you don't want to get three minutes before your "live-to-tape" show is set to begin: "Yeah, this is your San Francisco studio and your guest said he won't be here for about 15 minutes." That guest is
, our Silicon Valley columnist. By my math that would make him about two minutes late for the "Chartman" segment he does with
Gary B. Smith
. I glance up at the bank of 50 monitors on the wall of the control room and zero in on remote 10 where our San Francisco feed comes from. There it is, a perfect picture, a nice studio and ... an empty chair. Now it's 6:59 p.m. One minute before we start taping the show. I call Adam on his cell phone.
"It's Schreier. Tell me for real: How far away are you?"
"I'm close, but traffic is terrible. I hope 10 minutes, but I really don't know."
"You have to be in that chair in 11 minutes, ready to go."
(pause) "Call me back in four minutes."
We start the show. Options, I need options. I also need to produce what's on the air right now. Bill Toth, who runs technical operations at
Fox News Channel
, asks me if he should try to extend the satellite window for San Francisco. That would be the easy solution. It would cost more money, but spending more money tends to solve a lot of problems in television. It's also a course of action we are greatly discouraged from taking.
But that plan wouldn't solve another problem. If we move Adam's segment down in the show that would also mean Gary B. moves with him. Earlier that day I promised the folks in our Washington, D.C., bureau (where Gary is taped) that I would have Gary out of that studio by 7:16 p.m. so they could do a special taping of their "Beltway Boys" show.
It's 7:04 and 30 seconds. I look up at remote 10. Still an empty chair. I'm told by our associate producer
that the first segment of the show, "Word on TheStreet," is going pretty well. I tell her that it probably helped that everyone in that part of the show got there in time. She's used to my sarcasm and ignores me. I then ask her to call Adam's cell and get an update. She's on the line with him and reports that traffic is still bad but he's very close. I glance up at the show. Things still look and sound good. I ask Alison for the phone.
"Adam, get there, double park and get towed if you have to. But be in that chair in five minutes."
"G-man, I'm driving like a madman. I'm doing my best."
"Do what you have to. Just don't hit any pedestrians."
On the show our host
had just moved the topic from the incredible bull market to Europe and the Internet.
and guest money manager
, banter about how the Internet explosion is just beginning overseas and there could be some good companies to invest in. I wonder how long they can talk about this to buy me some more time for Adam to get in place. The discussion runs its course and, at 7:08 and 35 seconds, Brenda thanks everyone and does the "tease". Chartman and Adam are next, she says. Little does she know.
I tell our director Vinny Arbogast to take his time going to commercial. We have "E*Trade's most-active stocks" full screens we use at the bottom of the first segment. Vinny makes sure people have more than enough time to read them. But at 7:09 and 22 seconds we hit the commercial. That means in 2 and a half minutes we come back. Vinny turns around and asks me, "What do you want to do?" I think to myself that's a good question. What I really want to do find an extended happy hour in Manhattan somewhere. But that doesn't help the situation at hand.
I look up at remote 10. Empty chair. We're back in one minute and 45 seconds. I call Adam's cell phone. Now here's a funny sight: Calling Adam's cell while looking at that empty chair on remote 10. Two rings. As I hear a person answer "Hello," I see a gasping Adam Lashinsky sitting down in his chair on remote 10 answering the phone.
"You're my hero" I tell him.
I watch as the great staff at our San Francisco uplink outfits Adam with various wires and microphones. Thirty seconds before the segment begins Bill Toth tells me Adam is good to go. In fact he was good. Very good. As was Gary B. Their segment hummed as always. The rest of the show was like driving a
I never did get to an extended happy hour. But for me, the show ended up being a very happy half-hour. I hope you enjoyed it as well.
Editor's Note: Be sure to check out Dave Kansas' Cutting Room, which was published on Saturday!