After two of the reporters bought the other intern and I lunch, I got sent out with Ben Dunsmoor and the photog "Buddah" (you can imagine what he looks like) where we drove 45 minutes to the small, windy town of Spencer that was completely wiped away by a tornado ten years ago. KELO is producing a half hour special on it. Unfortunately, the people of Spencer don't seem to want KELO there. We found that out the hard way when Ben's interview didn't show and the bank secretary said "Well did you really think he was gonna be here?" Well, yeah! Luckily, she hooked us up with the assistant fire chief who showed us the fire truck Sioux Falls donated Spencer after the disaster--and it's still in use today!
Back at the station, I finally filled out my paperwork and received a door key. Co-intern Shane and I discussed calling it a day and went to check with our advisor, Dexter. He was busy discussing three phone calls on the tip line regarding a "mini tornado" in the Wal-Mark parking lot. When we caught his attention he said we were free to leave, but I asked if there was anything else we could do.
"Wanna go to the East Side Wal-Mart?"
"Sure!" And with that, he handed us a mini-dv camera (about the size of our school ones). I asked for a tripod.
"Aren't you rock solid?"
And with that, we were off the the East Side Wal-Mart parking lot. Luckily Shane spent last summer at KELO as a production assistant and knew his way around. (Sioux Falls is so expansive, I didn't even know there was an "East Side" Wal-Mart.) We figured there probably wasn't a story, or Dexter would've sent someone else. Besides, the skies were sunny.
But once we arrived, we saw a police car with its flashing lights and piles of glass shards. People standing around, confusion. We hopped out, I grabbed my notebook and asked questions. The Wal-Mart employees seemed to know nothing other than something strange had happened. The police said it was not a crime, but an act of nature. Witnesses claimed they saw a "mini tornado" destroying vehicles, shattering glass and even knocking over a cart return. Police advised those with damages to contact their insurance companies. Shane went inside to ask about surveillance video and they simply said "Um, yeah, well maybe we'll check it later tonight." Meanwhile, I did my best without a tripod in the parking lot to capture the scene on tape. Without a mic in our gear, we left without an interview but with enough shots and information for a VO. We called Dexter, he put it in the rundown.
We arrived back at the station a few minutes before air and Shane quickly edited the footage as I clarified details with the producer. Ten minutes later, our work was on-air to Keloland as a transition story to the first weather update in the A-block. (Because KELO coverage area reaches more states than South Dakota, they've always gotten away with dubbing it "Keloland.")
The story ran again at ten and the next morning.