I came across a very neat find the other day. Jodi’s sister Joann was nice enough to lend our team Jodi’s complete archive of VHS tapes that contained all of her resume work. I’m copying over the video so we can have a digital copy of her work.
Just like Jodi, I have dozens of old VHS tapes with my earlier work in TV recorded onto them. It’s some of my earliest (and worst!) material of my career. But it’s always fun for journalists to watch the work we did in the ‘early days’ of our careers. Jodi was like a lot of people in TV News. She was very good about recording her stand-ups, anchor montages and stories when she was reporting. Generally, someone in the TV News business will take these clips and narrow them down to the best clips and make an 8-10 minute resume reel. Back then, that reel was on VHS tape and was duplicated a few times onto other tapes and sent to news directors around the country in the hopes they liked what they saw and would hire you.
These days, it’s much different. With the latest technology, I am able to record a clip off of the TV onto my DVR and then pull those clips into my Mac computer’s editing software and edit it down to the best reel possible. Then I can upload the finished product to my website and just email a link to a news director. It’s much less work than duplicating VHS tapes in real-time!
I found one of Jodi’s old business cards taped to the outside of the VHS box. This was common practice for people sending out resume tapes. They would simply tape the card to the box so the news directors would know who’s tape he or she was looking at and so they could have all the information at their fingertips. The hope was they liked what they saw and called you to say: “Congratulations! We’d like to fly you in for a job interview.”
Obviously, Jodi had been working at KGAN-TV in Iowa City when she was working on this VHS tape. She would later get a job as morning anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa. Then-News Director Doug Merbach more than likely received one of these VHS tapes with one of her business card attached.
Also discovered in the big box of tapes was her anchor test-reads from the Frank N. Magid Associates agency. Many times anchors would go to an agency or a consultant and get help with their on-air skills. I remember when I worked in Tucson, my co-anchor and I at the time went to Dallas to work with a consultant on our chemistry, etc. Basically, you go through some on-air test reads and a consultant tells you what you can change and how you can look more comfortable on-air. The attached image is of Jodi doing such read with a coach at Magid. It was a neat video to see. I’ll try and get some video clipped and added to the website for people to see in the future.
There was always the warning from TV agents to put your ‘best stuff’ at the beginning of of your resume tape. Because news directors were (and still are) notorious for watching a few seconds and popping the tape out if they didn’t like what you looked like, how you sounded, how you reported/anchored, etc. So it was important to make a great first impression. Because many times, it was all you had.
But Mr. Merbach must have liked something in Jodi because he hired her. And I have been seeing hours and hours of video from her morning newscasts. As we all know from her journal and other reports, Jodi had big aspirations to go far in TV News. And at the time she disappeared, no doubt had a great TV news reel in production in an effort to send out to news directors all over the country.
And I’m sure each box came complete with a fresh KIMT-TV business card taped to the front.