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…

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…

The Nonpartisan Kindness of Strangers

After eight long days shooting stories in Humboldt County, our tired PBS SoCal Suburban gave it up at a gas station in the tiny agricultural hamlet of Maxwell, Calif. Even the minimart attendant could hear the tensioner pully bearings seize, shredding the serpentine belt that operated the power steering, brake booster, water pump and alternator. We were lucky that our misfortune happened in a safe place since we’d spent that entire morning driving up and down curvy mountain roads, pursuing a story about how illegal pot growers were operating out of the national forest and were using banned pesticides that were so toxic that even a spoonful could and did kill an adult bear. Our family-sized behemoth was filled with camera gear so difficult to stop and steer without power assistance. A…

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. I naturally took it a bit further since I have never been satisfied with the heavily companded audio that you get from budget gear. Over the past few years, I’d been upgrading my serviceable prosumer gear to the Hollywood production 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 me some time to learn how to plant mics. Hidden lavs pick up everything around it including the rub of beard stubble on a starchy dress collar. I’ve since fashioned some good lav rigs that work…

Covering My First Wildfire

I live in Los Angeles and all of the smoke in the air is giving me flashbacks of the Woolsey Fire that raged through Southern California in 2018. I remember it well because I had been asked to cover the wildfire by the executive producer of KCET’s SoCal Connected who called on a Friday evening. 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 put on flame-resistant turnout coats and drove down the eerily empty 101 freeway through the police blockades. Power throughout the burn areas was turned off so we were either operating in total darkness or by the intense red flare of raging fires that were burning down entire neighborhoods. It was a pretty harrowing…