American Sumo

MUSCLE & FITNESS – Trent Sabo is in the moving business. He moves grand pianos, iron weights and 500-pound sumo wrestlers. And, on occasion, he himself is moved. For instance, in the summer of 2003 at the U.S. Sumo Open in Manhattan Beach, California, when the 5’8″, 185-pound American found himself standing across the ring from Akebono Taro, a 6’8″, 500-plus-pound tectonic disruption of flesh and blood, and one of the most celebrated postwar wrestlers in the sport of Sumo. Sabo, 26, the coach and founding member of California’s Oceanside Sumo Kyokai, had been called out by Akebono and had no choice but to accept the challenge. He relished the rare opportunity to face a legend. As he stepped into the dohyo (sumo ring) that hot August day, he snugged up his…

‘Star Trek’s’ Nichelle Nichols on How Martin Luther King Jr. Changed Her Life

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Best known for playing Lieutenant Uhura, the communications officer on the original 60’s ‘Star Trek’ television series, Nichelle Nichols is one of the first African-American women to be cast in a role other than stereotyped black maid or nanny. She also performed the first inter-racial kiss on national television, which is one of many behind the scene stories told in the upcoming “Pioneers of Television.” The four-part PBS series pays homage to the first generation of genre television shows and the actors who helped break new ground. Speakeasy spoke with Nichelle Nichols, now 78, about her career and how Martin Luther King Jr. changed her life. Speakeasy: You actually worked with Gene Roddenberry before Star Trek. How did the two of you meet? Nichelle Nichols: I was taking…

A Tale of a Young Boxer’s Redemption

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Titan Gilroy’s first act began on the run. His mother fled to Hawaii to escape an abusive husband. And despite a few years of homelessness, she managed to keep her children in school. The move was a difficult adjustment for Mr. Gilroy and his sister, who were picked on for being outsiders. Mr. Gilroy took up boxing as a way to defend himself. He eventually earned a reputation for being a tough fighter, but that gift got him expelled from several public schools. He was finally admitted to a private Catholic high school, working part time to help pay the tuition. After graduating in 1988, Mr. Gilroy was discovered by a local boxing trainer, who sent him to train with Dick Saddler, former trainer for George Foreman and…

InBlog

Hanging Out at the Dohyo of Dreams

Of the many SoCal Connected shows that I’ve worked on, Grappling with Giants is my favorite. It’s a short doc that I produced for KCET about Jim Lowerre, a tech writer from Garden, Grove, Calif. that built an authentic sumo ring (dohyo) in his backyard. Believe me when I say that this is a rare thing since it takes a lot of work to build and maintain a regulation dohyo. Most amateur sumo wrestlers practice on canvas.  I’d met Lowerre at a regional sumo tournament while working on a story for Muscle & Fitness. I was there to interview Trent Sabo, a weightlifter from Oceanside who was working towards becoming a pro sumo wrestler. Sabo’s wrestling club, Oceanside Sumo Kyokai, regularly drove 60 miles north to practice at Lowerre’s “Dohyo of Dreams” which ended up…

InBlog

Covering My First Wildfire

I live in Los Angeles and all of the smoke from local fires is giving me flashbacks of the Woolsey fire that raged through Southern California in 2018. I remember it vividly because I had been asked to cover the event by my executive producer at SoCal Connected who called me at 7 p.m. Her story, The New Normal, was about how overdevelopment into fire-prone areas and climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires in California. We both donned flame-resistant turnout coats and drove down the eerily empty 101 freeway past Calabasas and through several police roadblocks. Power throughout the burn areas was turned off so we were either driving in total darkness or bathed in the intense red flare of raging fires that were burning down entire neighborhoods. What struck…

How Small Firms Can Use Pinterest and Facebook to Sell Directly to Customers

WALL STREET JOURNAL – You see a picture on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook. But there’s something different about it. There’s a button that asks you if you want to buy the product you see. Would you click then and there? Social-media giants are betting you will. And some small businesses are signing on to the idea. As social sites seek new sources of income—and people demand ever more convenient ways to buy online—they’re giving companies the option to add “buy” buttons to their posts. And some small businesses are already seeing encouraging gains from this new capability, boosting sales by leveraging the close contact they have with customers on social sites. But experts warn that businesses should take a soft and helpful tone when reaching out, because customers can get turned off…

How Small Firms Can Court Online Reviewers

WALL STREET JOURNAL – Looking for a low-cost way to market your products? Find an influencer. These high-profile reviewers can have thousands—or tens of thousands—of followers and fans on YouTube, Facebook and other social networks. Sending them products to review can be an effective way for a small firm with limited means to reach a vast new audience. But managing the relationship takes a lot of care. The main issue is disclosure: Influencers need to make it very clear how they got the products and what their relationship with the company is. Any lack of transparency can raise tax issues, get influencers and the company in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission and anger viewers. Companies may be face a very vocal online protest or even a boycott. Here are some things to keep…

InBlog

Deep Dive Into Production Audio

The last few seasons of SoCal Connected were produced on a shoestring budget which is why camera operators had to handle their own audio. The show could not afford to hire dedicated location sound guys. I naturally took my soundie role a bit further since I have never been satisfied with the heavily companded audio that you get from the budget gear that is typically used as a backup by a lot of camera ops. Over the past few years, I’d been upgrading to the Hollywood location sound trinity of Lectrosonics, DPA and Sound Devices. I’d schooled myself in their field use by working on independent documentaries where I learned how to properly gain stage and swing a boom. It took a lot of practice learning how to hide mics. Hidden lavs pick up…