88.9 WEIU-Issues and Attitudes with Cameron Craig

Uploaded by geoscienceEIU on 14.10.2011

>> male speaker: 88.9 WEIU FM, now it's
time for Issues and Attitudes.
>>Jeff Owens: And a very good
afternoon everyone on this November 29, 2010,
it's time for issues and attitudes.
My name is Jeff Owens, director of WEIU FM, my co-host
Bellville's favorite son Joe Astrosky.
>> Joe: Good to be back.
>> Jeff: Joe is down to his
final few shows before he graduates, and...
>> Joe: Like sand through the hourglass.
>> Jeff: It's been a good run,
so as we go we'll talk a little bit more about
Joe in the next couple shows.
Our guest today making his initial appearance, at least on
radio down here, is Mr. Cameron Craig, he's a professor in the
geology/geography department here at EIU, also a
climatologist, film producer, WEIU assistant weatherperson for
lack of a better term.
A guy that we see in the hallways a lot and I thought you
know Cameron, we need to have you
on, so welcome Cameron Craig.
>> Cameron: Thank you very much.
>> Jeff: And we really want to
talk about some of the films you've produced and
some of the things you've done with the students at WEIU.
But before that why don't we talk a little bit about your
background and what led you to EIU and a little
bit of your interest in the weather side of things.
>> Cameron: Well to start the long history,
I started out as a music major, my mother said
I couldn't do anything else in my life but music.
And so then I got tired of doing all that, so then I got a degree
in history and I worked toward a master's in geography
reconstructing Indiana's climate of the 19th century, using
historical documents and journals
and diaries from that period.
And so I got into the weather, as a little kid I was always
into the weather and I think most kids are, so yeah.
Then I said, "Okay, it's time to do a PhD."
And so that's what I'm doing right now in geographic
education in documentary film work using student's projects,
as a term paper.
>> Jeff: Very neat.
>> Joe: And tell us about that
relationship with the students, how does
that process play out in terms of educating students
in climatology and letting them get hands on experience.
>> Cameron: I think the big thing
is getting outside and looking up at the sky.
My weather and climate students have to complete a weather
observation project and so for every day of the month they have
to observe the weather, get outside, look at the clouds,
identify the clouds, and then analyze it.
So it's a good pattern of recognition, it's a good problem
solving skill that they don't get with many other courses, so
I really think it's very important
to give them that practice.
>> Jeff: When you see somebody
see something for the first time, tell us about that story.
Let's say a student doesn't get it at first but then they're
looking day after day at the sky,
tell us about the experience.
>> Cameron: The experience is wonderful.
I mean what happens if there's a student takes my class, they
find themselves looking up at the sky more often and say, "Oh
I know that, I know how that process works."
So it's more exciting for them.
The retention is higher so they leave the class knowing a little
bit more about the world they live in.
>> Jeff: And then you're also in
relationship with a lot of the weathercasters, forecasters
here at WEIU Television and radio
center, tell us about that, you know what is it like working
with them and then the staying in
touch process after they leave here.
>> Cameron: The big thing is that
we see broacast meteorologist all the time.
That's the big part of our watching the news.
And so, students that are interested in doing broadcast
meteorology, they come to me and then I
start giving them daily practice.
We just started a new class called the broadcast meteorology
practicum, which essentially they
have to do daily broadcasts online.
So the big thing is, is what's different about this university
and our department is that we give them the daily practice
that they need, and then when they complete that course, then
they move onto WEIU Newswatch, and they do
that live five days a week.
Now, because we've had an increase in the number of
students we now have a weekend weather show, five minutes,
but it still gives the students more opportunities.
So it's a very good thing, we go to the National Weather
Association, I sponsor students going there, and they take their
broadcast with them.
And a lot of the professionals are really excited about what
we're doing here at Eastern, what are you doing differently
than what other universities are doing, it's a daily practice,
you know, the daily broadcast on a daily basis.
I have a green wall in my office and my students have access to
it, and they do it whenever they can, everyday, and that's the
key, doing it everyday.
You cannot become a concert pianist without
practicing everyday.
So like an art, like an instrument, weather
broadcasting is an art, you have to practice it.
>> Joe: So what does that
practice look like?
A student comes in...
Well if you could just give us an example of a student's one
day in that process.
First as a student and then working at the station.
>> Cameron: What happens is the
student comes in and they look at all the weather models.
They just don't look at the Farmer's Almanac,
we don't use that at all.
They look at the sky, they know what the conditions are outside,
right now, then they look at the
weather models, which, they're okay.
These are mathmatical things that we use that give us an idea
what we can expect over the next day.
And then they put their numbers out, they interpellate, they use
the science, they think about what the conditions are, they
look at the soil moisture, they understand what's happening with
the temperature fluctuation.
Advection, these are all technical terms, and if any of
my students are out there they'll know.
>> Cameron: And then they start
drawing their maps out and then they put their slides
together, and then they start going, "What is the story?
What is the weather story?"
And that is the most important aspect, how are you going to
convey what's happening right now,
to the future, to your audience.
And that's very important.
And so if you do it correctly, the audience remembers what's
happening with the weather over the next few days.
So then they get up and then they do a dry run, and they
record it, and then they send it up online.
So the one thing that they realize is that as the model's
going out seven days, it's not accurate, what is accurate, and
I get to stand on my soap box now, what is accurate is what's
happening right now.
It's very difficult science to predict, we still have trouble
predicting earthquakes, but weather is very difficult
because it's a big thing out there and
we do not have complete understanding of what....
>> Jeff: And I would say in
central Illinois it's even less predictable than
some places you know here it's the old adage,
"If you don't know what the weather is, go outside it'll
change in 10 minutes."
So does the location that we're in also figure in to some of...
>> Cameron: Yes.
If we were in Florida, that'd be a whole different thing, it'd be
the same thing everyday, rainshower between
two and four, and it'd be over.
Here we have cold air masses that come in from Canada, we
have warm air masses coming in from the gulf, so that is a huge
fluctuation in our temperatures, and you know precipitation
expereiences as well.
>> Jeff: Okay, very interesting.
I know we might want to talk a little bit about Kevin Jeanes
one of our meteorologist here, or weathercaster here at WEIU,
left WEIU under a little bit of your tutelage and just
got a job I believe in Richmand, Virginia.
And that's a big market for someone to go from college to
Richmand, Virginia, so I think that shows kind of a kudos to
you and kudos to Kelly and everybody at newswatch.
So Joe, there, you have three weeks to get a job, we'll be
talking about you.
>> Joe: We will see.
>> Jeff: This past summer you
had the luxury of knowing, I won't say luxury it's a
horrible event, but going with some EIU students to do
a little bit of documentary work down near the Gulf's oil spill.
Talk about the experience of what it was like to actually be
on the ground of the oil spill and the documentary
that you did, I believe, "Returning to Paradise."
Let's talk about that at length if we can.
>> Cameron: The big thing was,
that right after the event happened and
the Horizon exploded, I was thinking I would
really like to get some footage of this oil spill.
And initially I'm like, "Oh it's $400 for a flight down there,
I'd be going by myself, and it'd be just too much of an expense."
And I thought, "Okay, we'll just wait."
Because I wanted to get some footage for the ongoing series,
"Expedition Nature's Realm," which Kevin Jeanes and I
produced and directed.
But then you know, after talking to some members from the Center
for Academic Technology and Support, there was a little bit
of, "Okay, let's do this."
And so I started to pull in some money from different departments
and we left June 17th, with three other students, Zack Nugent,
Mike Ismondi and A.J. Shubert.
All very excited about going down there, we kept talking
about, "What's the plan?
What's the plan?"
In my work, as a geographer in filming, I want things to happen
to me, and so without trying to go with a plan, because if you
go with a plan then you're...
>> Jeff: You're locked in.
>> Cameron: You're locked in,
and then things don't work out the way you planned.
So if you go down there and just let it happen to you that's a
whole different experience.
So we went down there, and remembering all the images we've
seen on tv, over and over and over again, we get down there,
Grand Isle, where the heart of the situation was, where we see
all these creatures just engulfed in oil.
We get down there, it's gone.
We see the booms out on the beach but there's nothing.
You see residue of oil, it was cleaned up.
And what's very interesting that another alum from Eastern went
down there the week before and took several photographs showing
the oil on the beaches and all the tar balls and everything.
Looking at that, they cleaned it up within a
week, and that was very exciting.
So we're standing there, Zack and I are standing there
thinking, "What's going on?
Where's the story?"
Going down there without something, but in our minds we
had all of those media images and so then it dawned on me,
"Ah, the perception.
The perception of people here in east central Illinois, keeps
seeing these images over and over and over, and that gives us
the idea that it's death and destruction
down there along the gulf."
So then we traveled on to, we got to, which was very exciting,
a media flight sponsored by the government, and we got to take a
one hour flight around the Mobile Bay area, and then we
talked to a hotel vice-president of Marriott, about the booms
that they were doing for their property, beach front property.
And then we got to Dauphin Island which is just 25 miles
south of Mobile Bay, or Mobile.
And that was probably the best experience we had in knowing
what was going on.
And we talked to one group of people on a porch.
Some of them were in the real estate business and they, we
spent one hour with them and we have it on film and that's
probably the essence of, the backbone of the film is how they
had to change their routine, day to day.
How they had to teach their children what to
do and what not to do.
You know, the uncertainties of the near future.
Those kind of things.
And this is where the title came from, this fact, the documentary
film focuses on the voices of the human spirit
because that is what it is.
We see all these images but we don't know exactly what is
happening to the residents of this area.
And so that's where the title came from,
"Returning to Paradise."
Because they just got done dealing with Hurricane Katrina,
and so then they're having to deal with this now.
So they want to return back to paradise because it is paradise,
and so they're still dealing.
Now, it's been six months since, and we're planning to go back
again to interview these same people
this coming Christmas break.
>> Jeff: That's neat.
And what do you expect?
I know again you've talked, you've seen some of the stuff
that's happened the past six months, you hear about the
success stories down there but what do you expect when you talk
to those people what they're going to tell you?
>> Cameron: It's going to be
the economical situation, when we were down
there we were trying to, we tried to get a ship
shrimper to talk to us and the wife said to us, "Well if you
came yesterday you could have, but we're under contract with BP
now, so we can't talk to you."
I'm like, "Oh, okay."
So, things like that we were very happy with the council
members that helped us, showed us around the island.
It'll be interesting to see, again, not going down there with
an idea of what to expect but we just want them to tell their
story, a true documentary, that's what we're trying to
attempt here is a true documentary where there is no,
we don't want to put in our own thoughts.
>> Joe: I was going to ask,
one thing I heard quite a bit about in other media outlets is
that there was a limitation on access to
some of these site for say film crews.
Did you encounter that at all?
>> Cameron: No, not at all.
In fact, Grand Isle as we parked at the park there, on the east
end of the island, and we started going over the dunes,
and you see the water and the pelicans flying and then off to
the righthand side behind this tarp type of structure was a
sheriff's car, and a big sheriff there.
And I said, "Okay let's just keep walking, we're just going
to keep walking."
Because prior to that we did hear those things that they were
arresting people with cameras, and here we are we've got three
different cameras with us, and we're going down toward the boom
and then I hear all of sudden behind me,
"Hey, what are you doing?"
And I was like, okay, that was my first heart attack.
So I said, "You guys just stand here, don't
move, don't think, or anything."
And I went to talk to this man and he
goes, "What are you doing?"
And I said, "Well we're from Eastern Illinois University, and
we're here to document the oil spill, etc." "Okay, well it's
fine just as long as you don't pass the orange booms, if you
do, you have to be decontaminated,
which is not pleasant."
>> Jeff: That doesn't sound pleasant.
>> Cameron: No, not at all.
And so we obeyed.
And so the second law enforcement drove up, screeching
on the beach and that was my second heart attack.
And he asked me what am I doing?
And I said, "Well, we're from Eastern Illinois University."
He goes, "Oh, University of Illinois?"
I said, "Yeah, why not."
He goes, "Great school, go on."
And I'm like, "Well you got the university wrong,
but that's okay."
>> Jeff: That's kind of neat,
that's really neat.
I know you don't know a lot of it when you talk about having a
plan, but when you're down there and this time, the original time
this summer when you were talking about, are people
concerned that there's still a lot of oil
left somewhere in the bay?
Because it really wasn't as bad as they thought it was going to
be, but there's concerns for the near future or even the long
term, 10, 20 years down that some of that
stuff may seep back in.
>> Cameron: The big thing is that,
recently, no more shrimp fishing for the time being
because they've found traces of oil within the shrimp.
So there's that concern, but there's also the bottom feeders,
in other words the creatures that live on the bottom of the
gulf that are getting into this oil, we're going to see the
effects of this for years to come.
The Exxon Valdez situation, you know, years and years and years
ago, we're still seeing effects of that.
So this is nothing going to be wiped out anytime soon and
we're going to see this for a long long time.
>> Jeff: Okay.
When you talk about returning to paradise, is this something
that, when you go back around Christmas time is this going to
be the finality or is this something you want to continue
maybe look at as your future film?
>> Cameron: I think that when we
go back and talk to the same individuals, that
will be the extent of the entire project, returning to paradise.
We're looking at probably an hour, hour and half, depending
on the amount of material that we have.
Again, we're trying to keep it a true documentary where the
people are telling their story without a lot of narration or
voice-over because I don't want to, with Expedition Nature's
Realm, that was my moment to interject a little philosophy of
our coexistence with nature.
Here, it's a situation that's currently happening, will
continue to happen, and I want the people
down there to tell their story.
That's very important.
I'm 800,000 miles away, I have no idea, so that's very
important to let them just tell their story.
>> Jeff: Is it your goal hopefully
that this gets, I mean obviously WEIU is going to air it, is
your goal to get this out across the country, across the world.
>> Cameron: Yes.
In some way, in some manner, it's very small, a very small
project as far as money wise, but I think it's very important
that we communicate some of these stories.
A lot of these, many of these people have a
lot to say about their condition.
>> Jeff: They weren't at all
nervous or apprehensive, you know, "Hey why is
this station from the middle of Illinois.."
>> Cameron: Actually they were very helpful.
We, just before we arrived to the island, we were at a gas
station and somebody came up to us and
said, "Oh, you're from PBS."
"Can you do something about those cooking shows?"
"Well it's not our particular station but you know."
So the big thing was that, "Well you should talk to so-and-so on
the island because they know a lot of what's
going on down there."
And so yeah, that was very helpful.
>> Joe: So if someone wants
to see the segment from this summer, missed it over the
course of the summer, what would be the best way for them to...
>> Cameron: We have it on our website,
we will have it on our website, we haven't released
anything but a promo yet.
I have the hour long interview that is exclusively seen by
students here at Eastern Illinois University, as part of
their educational experience because it does show a lot of
the changes in perception.
What I do, am doing with my dissertation is prior to showing
that one hour interview uncut, I have the students write an essay
of their perception of the oil spill.
>> Jeff: Like before they see it?
>> Cameron: Before they see it, they see
it, and then they write a post-perception essay.
And there's a big change in a lot of the things that you see
is, "Well this is not what I have seen in the media."
And that's the big thing, that our perceptions have changed
when an instructor goes to whatever landscape, goes down to
the Gulf films there, or a geographer takes a video camera
out to the Great Plains, or to Ireland or whatever, the
students are exposed to these new things
from their own instructor.
>> Jeff: It reminds me of
when Katrina hit, which was on a
Monday, prior to an Issues and Attitudes show, and people
forget this, and I've said this forever, that morning on CNN and
Fox, Hurricane Katrina was not as bad as everybody said, that's
what they were saying.
In fact, if I had the recording of the Issues and Attitudes that
day, we even went on the air that day at noon and said it
doesn't appear it's going to be as bad because the water was
still going inland and it wasn't coming out
and causing all the damage.
And I still think people forget that Fox and CNN were both
reporting, "It looks like it's going to be okay down there."
And then later that afternoon is when it got bad.
And it's one of those things that, of course Fox and CNN
never ever talk about that they quote on quote are a little bit
to blame for that misperception early because of what happened.
It's really funny that's never talked about before, it's all
George Bush's fault.
I was wondering if he was watching CNN and Fox in the
morning and saying, "Oh it doesn't seem as bad."
Think about that, it's perception.
>> Cameron: And that's right, and you know
one of the things that the residents kept saying,
the images that you're seeing are for Grand Isle,
weeks ago, and they, the media keeps
playing those images and people get this, "Well I'm not going to
do my, I'm not going to go on my vacation in Florida because the
oil's headed that way."
And so that was, that's bad.
And when we see this we're like well
Dauphin Island is like great.
People are out there swimming,...
>> Jeff: The gloom and doom stories.
>> Cameron: The gloom and doom
stories come to reality that there's actually
nothing major occuring.
>> Joe: You mentioned the
effect on student's perception, is this something
you see happening more in classroom settings.
Bringing, I guess you could say video journalism or video
documentary film, and how would that, explain that usage.
>> Cameron: Let me go back about 80,
90 years, and the dust bowl of the, I guess it
would be about 80 years, the dust bowl of the 1930s.
I produced, Kevin Jeanes and I produced another film, which is
my favorite, my cup of tea, "Stinging Dust and Forgotten
Lives," which has aired on WEIU.
I show this for my weather and climate students, and my
spaceship earth students, senior seminar, and I go before I show
them this film, I go, "How many of you have heard of the dust
bowl, and a lot of them go, "Oh, I've heard of it."
Okay, can you explain to me what has happened, what happened
during that time.
"Oh, just dust blowing all around."
They don't understand how harsh and how big of a struggle it was
for humanity at that time.
They watch it and they go, "Wow, that's really depressing.
I didn't realize that that actually
happened to that magnitude."
And those things, because we're so far removed, we have to have
more films like this that change the perception of our students
for historical purposes because we must learn from the past in
order to make the future better right?
And so these kind of films and that's where the dissertation,
my dissertation is kind of playing into is, if an
instructor can go to any location, film it, bring it
back, you're going to change your student's perception of
that location.
>> Joe: It's a little easier
than bringing the student to the location.
>> Cameron: Exactly, exactly.
Especially when we're talking about going to a state park.
>> Jeff: And one of the things I
think we can say here as a little
interjection or self promotion, is this is where PBS
really comes into play, because we can have more time on the
station, we can do more shows like this to tell the story and
then this is where public broadcasting really needs to
come to the forefront.
And with public stations being under the gun in Washington DC
and Springfield, if you want stories like this, if you cut
public funding for PBS, they're never going to appear again, in
the form that you want.
Uncut, and real story, educational.
So there's our self promotion, but I think that that's where
the story is, and I think that's the neat part of what you do and
the Ken Burns' of the world do, they bring these stories to the
forefront so that people can actually learn a little bit
about the country they live in.
So in the scheme of things, call your senators and call your
congressman and tell them there's a reason for the WEIU's
and WILLs and WSIs, all the stations that, not that the
other stations don't matter, but we matter on a different level
and I think it's important.
>> Joe: Well and I think it was
about a week ago I was listening
to one of the NPR weekend shows, and they had about a 10 minute
program on issues of French wine overproduction, and
overharvesting of French grapes and how this was
a big economic crisis for France.
Well you could never, on a commercial station, spend six
minutes, eight minutes, tallking about French grapes.
But I mean it's a serious problem for a lot of people.
>> Jeff: Exactly.
The other thing is, you are the faculty laureate for Eastern
Illinois University, quite an award.
Tell us what it means and then, you know, what
you'll be able to use by being that.
What doors does that get you into?
>> Cameron: It's not the doors,
it's just the effect that I get to interact with
my students, I think that that is the most
important aspect of being a faculty laureate.
You provide such a foundation for your students that they
leave Eastern knowing more about the world they live in.
You give them opportunities that
other universities probably would not give.
So it's very important for me, I like to have that, if I don't
teach all year, in the summer, I get very depressed.
And I have to have that student interaction,
I have to have that question.
It's like Kevin Jeanes and I for "Expedition Nature's Realm" were
headed out west, we didn't have any idea what we were going to
do, we're just driving out through the Great Plains towards
Yellowstone, that was it.
And then the questions, he would ask questions that required a
philiosophical viewpoint and it was very exciting.
I learned from that.
That is faculty laureate to me.
It is the ability to give experiential learning
opportunities for your students and learning yourself.
So faculty laureate, I was very excited when I received word
that I received it this last year, this year.
And then speaking in front of 2000 students at PROWL, that was
exhilarating, and it feels very good being the first annually
contracted faculty member to receive it.
So along with Keith Spears who also received it.
>> Jeff: So people will be signing up
for your classes as early as they can.
>> Cameron: That's right, register quickly
because what happens is, the senior seminar
closes within three minutes after it's opened, so it's...
>> Jeff: And spaceship earth
has been around here forever at Eastern.
>> Cameron: Yes it has.
>> Jeff: I remember even when I
was here at Eastern way back in the dark ages as Joe would say.
A couple minutes left, let's talk about, we have to ask you
this since you are into weather, when
will be the first major snowfall?
This fall.
Come on we're putting you on the spot.
>> Cameron: You got that right.
We're going to expect a slight chance
of snow flurries tomorrow.
We did have snow flurries a little bit of snow last
Thursday, Thanksgiving.
You know what, we don't do that.
I tell my students, we don't do that.
>> Jeff: Now I know one of the
things you talked about Kevin Jeanes, Laine Sylvester's
over at WAND, you also stay in touch
with students after they leave, much like we do here at the
radio and tv center.
Talk about maybe what a question Laine would call you up and say,
"Cameron, you know, I have this problem."
And talk about that interaction, we have about a minute left.
>> Cameron: Okay, it's any severe weather
situation, they wanted to reassure
themselves of their thinking.
So I'm more than happy, if it's 2am in the morning, and I
receive a call from one of the students
I am there to help them.
And then things like the business, "What should I do?"
"Hey would you have a look at my broadcast
and give me some pointers?"
Kevin Jeanes is now, this weekend he actually sent me
three broadcasts, consecutive broadcasts, so that he could
submit them to the NWA Seal Committee so he
could get a seal of approval.
So I looked at them said, "Okay, here this is good,
this is good, stop overthinking."
That's the big thing, is the students are
overthinking too much.
>> Jeff: We got to have you back in,
we didn't get through half the stuff we wanted to.
We appreciate everything you've done, and I want to talk about
some of your future productions and things, so we'll have you
back in the spring semester and talk a little bit more about
Cameron Craig EIU geology.
Joe we'll talk to you next Monday, this is HitMix.
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