Each Friday in “Meet AM,” we’ll introduce you to the people who get American Morning to air.
Today, we’d like you to meet Graham Flanagan. Graham is one of our tape APs – he makes sure we have the newest and most relevant video for the stories we’re going to do in the day.
You might know his name from his appearance on air predicting the Oscars, or from the Graham Cam videos he’s posted on our blog. He’s been with AM for over three years.
How did you end up doing what you do?
While I was still in college at Alabama, I found out that an Alabama alumnus happened to be working at AM at the time. While I was in New York visiting some friends and seeing Lou Donaldson at the Village Vanguard, I went to CNN and had a meeting with him. I graduated that December, and then I got the go-ahead to come back to New York and start working as a freelance production assistant. I learned the ropes, got hired full-time after a few months and after a while was lucky enough to be able to move into my current position.
Describe your average day:
I get in at 1AM, and the first thing I do is mine the monologues from the late-night comedy shows to see if there are any solid, topical jokes to use during our show. Not a bad way to start the day. After that, I take a look at our rundown and start attacking any tasks that are waiting to be completed. I also “read in,” meaning I look at the latest wires from CNN and Associated Press, as well as take a glance at the national papers to see what the big stories are for that day. Then I take a look at our video server to see what video elements we have to work with. Do we have new Obama tape? Is there footage of that blast in Islamabad? Etc, etc. I also make any Google Earth maps we might need to highlight the location(s) of our reporters. Before showtime, I communicate with Master Control in Atlanta [who put together the absolute final product you see on air] about the movement of any commercial breaks during the show. Once 6a hits, I do the same thing (cut VOs and SOTs, make Google maps, etc), just at a much faster and urgent pace.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
I wouldn’t say that the job is hard. If anything it’s challenging. And everyday your mettle is tested through the amount and degree of difficulty of whatever challenges are presented to you. My job requires a lot of last-second precision, like when I have to turn around a soundbite in a mere matter of seconds. I sometimes feel like Jeff Bridges in that movie “Blown Away,” where he has to decide at the moment of truth whether to cut the red wire or the green wire. But it’s that kind of challenge that can make this job really exciting. I love the rush!
What do you like most about working at AM?
Probably that rush I was talking about – when the show is depending on me to get the job done and if you don’t then they’re going to have to go to the backup plan. But when you get it right and you see your work make air, you know that people all over the world are getting their news because you made it happen by concentrating and doing your best. I’d also have to say it’s a blast collaborating with so many people who are just as passionate about making it happen. When everyone is on the same page and we’re hitting on all cylinders (which is most of the time), it culminates in the type of quality broadcasting that has always made CNN the worldwide powerhouse that it is today.
What do you do outside of work? What do you do for fun?
I’m a huge jazz fan, I root for the New York Yankees, I’m a big movie buff and I try to hit up the gym a few times a week so that, in case they ever make a sequel to “300,” I’ll be ready for the call.
What else do you think people should know about you?