Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Raamiah Bethea interview

TRENTON -- I'm pretty happy with how this turned out for a few reasons.

Firstly, Raamiah Bethea is everything that's right with Trenton, a well-mannered, literate young man of sound mind, body and soul. He is part of Trenton's first family of wrestling, whose patriach, Trenton City Councilman Alex Bethea, has taught his children the value of dedication, determination and drive. Dan Toto took this shot of the Family Bethea after Raamiah's historic pin.

Now, the picture that Trentonian photog Jackie Schear captured of Alex covering his face as he cried in the moments after Raamiah won the state title is as good as it gets. In fact, no other photo I posted of Raamiah on The Trentonian's Facebook page Sunday generated more "likes" (81) than that photo. Here it is:

It is a riveting moment of the man who wrestled and raised every one of his six sons to wrestle, as he realizes the gravity of Raamiah's feat. It's hard to stop staring at the photo.

And yet, check out the best 2 shots Jackie snapped after Raamiah pinned Don Bosco's Sal Mastriani with 29 seconds to go in the match. Mastriani was 40-0 going into the bout. Raamiah was 36-0. Battle of titans.

That is the best wrestling moment I have ever seen captured. Jackie Schear nailed the ish out of that moment within a moment in time. If that does not win First Place in the next contest she enters, the judges are complete tools.

And yet, I loved this moment every bit as much:

Jackie Schear clearly won the photography jackpot Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City.

I kind of feel Trentonian TV won the jackpot tonight in Trenton for a few less-spectacular reasons. I was having a bad late afternoon in the office when Trentonian wrestling guru Rick Fortenbaugh told me Raamiah had agreed to appear on Trentonian TV; the news lifted my spirits, made all of my anger disappear in an instant. But that also left with me with a dilemma because I needed to find someone to interview Raamiah. As much as I wanted to, I had to focus on the live studio production side of things. I asked the former publisher Bill Murray to interview Raamiah because Bill wrestled in high school and understands technique and nuance, and he has great energy for this kind of thing. He couldn't do it, though. Then the bell of Freedom rung: Darren "Freedom" Green was available, or at least I hoped he would be, so I called and he agreed to interview Raamiah.

As an aside, episode 3 of "Freedom" aired at 8 o'clock Monday morning. It was a pretty solid show, except the Livestream studio only recorded 23 minutes of it because of an Internet connection failure midway through. I was bummed. Freedom's first two guests were education advocate Coreen Grooms and West End Little League President Ron Davis. Both offered terrific insights, but no one will ever see or hear the interviews because there is no copy of them. Trenton City Councilman Zach Chester was the final guest, and only 23 minutes of his interview appears in Episode 3. Totally bummed, but Freedom and I rectified the situation: He'll invite Grooms and Davis back soon.

I was hoping like heck the same thing wouldn't happen during Raamiah's interview even though The Trentonian's Internet service got screwy about 30 minutes beforehand, which is why I was sweatin' bullets. Everything fell back into place about 6:45. The interview was set for 7. I prepared several of Jackie Schear's photos and the video of the 152-pound title bout. The interview was flowing, and I was focused on making sure the graphics were turned on or off during crucial moments -- and then I realized, too late, that I forgot to hide Freedom's name when Raamiah was breaking down the match as he watched the video. So the whole time you saw the match in the main screen and Freedom and Raamiah in the left corner -- and Raamiah is doing a beautiful job explaining the match to the audience, but Freedom's name appears over their faces as they spoke. I was so disappointed. Bummed. Bummed beyond extreme. I felt like I screwed the whole thing up. Total Livestream fail on my part. Worse, I copied the recording onto Raamiah's zip drive.

But then I figured something out in post-production and was incredibly thrilled with the possibility. In Livestream you can re-record the original recorded video without any of the graphics, and that copy will show up in the library, too. And, when you're re-recording, you can introduce new graphics -- I made sure to credit three times for the video I used from its website. live-streamed every title bout Sunday. After re-recording the recording, I slipped that copy into the replay loop and trashed the original. So the video you see is sanitized of the mistakes I thought would be the bane of my Trentonian TV existence. I wanted this to be a special thing for Raamiah Bethea and his parents and his many brothers and sisters. This Trentonian TV interview was a moment within a moment in time for Raamiah -- he was so excited to be a part of it. Another component to the biggest moment in this young man's life also became one of the first seminal moments in Trentonian TV history: We pinned down an interview with New Jersey's 2012 undefeated 152-pound state wrestling champion. Victory.

And within 3 hours, the show made Trentonian TV history by becoming the first show to crack's daily top 20 Most Popular list, which is tabulated by link clicks. After 4 hours and 25 minutes, it was No. 18.

There's still a long way to go till we're quote-unquote state champions of Digital First Media, but Trentonian TV is comin' on strong like Raamiah Bethea.

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Below is the Raamiah Bethea interview in full.

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