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Katrina Photojournalist John McCusker

From: BSR Radio
Length: 07:41

Profile of McCusker, who stayed to photograph Hurricane Katrina

N1005404303248525735_small In April 2006, John McCusker sat down over oyster po'boys at Cooter Brown's to describe the stresses of reporting Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath, and the slow rebuilding of his hometown. Our interview occurred just four months before McCusker was arrested during an altercation with New Orleans police - an incident McCusker says was the combined result of post-Katrina stress and a dose, hours before, of the anti-depressant medication Clonazepam (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003054548). Here, McCusker describes the blockades he faces in his everyday struggle to rebuild his ruined Lakeview home, recover his finances, and rebuild his family life. He maintains hope and humor despite these overwhelming obstacles. The story concludes: "There's some nights that just in despair you lay in your bed, and like you?re a three-year-old child you just lay there and say, I want to go home. I want to go home. And you can?t go home...You go some days where you don?t think about it and things are okay and you just kind of move along through your life. But then, one day, maybe you get a FEMA rejection letter, maybe you have a terse discussion with the guy handling your SBA loan, maybe your insurance adjuster promised to meet you somewhere and he doesn?t show up, you know, and anything. And you?re right back to August 29th... ?I was a worrier, Dad was a worrier, you know, and I?d worry about this and worry about that. And I started thinking, all of the things in my life that I spent all the time worrying about, and none of them did anything to me that could in anyway compare with this mystery that comes out of the Gulf and just destroys the city and just ruined my life. So if anything it's made me more of a New Orleanian. Because I'm not worrying about anything. I'm glad to be alive."

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Piece Description

In April 2006, John McCusker sat down over oyster po'boys at Cooter Brown's to describe the stresses of reporting Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath, and the slow rebuilding of his hometown. Our interview occurred just four months before McCusker was arrested during an altercation with New Orleans police - an incident McCusker says was the combined result of post-Katrina stress and a dose, hours before, of the anti-depressant medication Clonazepam (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003054548). Here, McCusker describes the blockades he faces in his everyday struggle to rebuild his ruined Lakeview home, recover his finances, and rebuild his family life. He maintains hope and humor despite these overwhelming obstacles. The story concludes: "There's some nights that just in despair you lay in your bed, and like you?re a three-year-old child you just lay there and say, I want to go home. I want to go home. And you can?t go home...You go some days where you don?t think about it and things are okay and you just kind of move along through your life. But then, one day, maybe you get a FEMA rejection letter, maybe you have a terse discussion with the guy handling your SBA loan, maybe your insurance adjuster promised to meet you somewhere and he doesn?t show up, you know, and anything. And you?re right back to August 29th... ?I was a worrier, Dad was a worrier, you know, and I?d worry about this and worry about that. And I started thinking, all of the things in my life that I spent all the time worrying about, and none of them did anything to me that could in anyway compare with this mystery that comes out of the Gulf and just destroys the city and just ruined my life. So if anything it's made me more of a New Orleanian. Because I'm not worrying about anything. I'm glad to be alive."

4 Comments Atom Feed

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Review of Katrina Photojournalist John McCusker

The cigarette discussion right at the beginning was a good idea. Makes it hit home how tough this is. (and throwing in a cut from him in the middle "going to the car for cigarettes." ) Then there's a double-whammy of getting that idea at the end when, after all this trouble, he says he actually isn't worried about anything because he's just happy to be alive. Great piece. Great mix- of sound as well as what cuts you chose to use.

It could use some music at the end to give it a conclusion but I'm guessing that's not on there because it was produced for an hour-long show -and a station can easily add that.

It would be good to add to a show about reflection or storms or New Orleans or personal struggle. It's heartfelt- that's also why it's good. You feel lucky to hear this guy's intimate thoughts.

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Review of Katrina Photojournalist John McCusker

This is a gorgeous piece. It's very hard to write a piece about a topic that every journalist in the world is going to write about and be authentic and unique. And I think that you have achieved that in this piece. I have not heard or read the side of a reporter before, and it gives me another view on how someone else might feel. But on the same token since your interview with the reporter was as important in telling your piece the recording of the interview should be done in a more quieter place. Radio especially radio journalism is only heard not seen, so what the listener is hearing is most important whether it be ambient sound or the interview. But if there is something that distracts the listener while listening the goal of your story might be lost, because they may have missed something that was said and if its being heard on the radio there is no rewind button. I really appreciated you piece, I especially liked the fact that you made the reporter more human by mentioning that he smoked half a pack of cigarettes. Peolple look at katrina victums as refugees which they are not but by you putting his smoking habits in the story that has othing to do with the topic, it lightens it. It made me realize that this person still has a personality that it could be me tomorrow, just by you mentioning something as small as cigarettes. So I commend you.

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Review of Katrina Photojournalist John McCusker

As a New Orleanian I thought this piece was very touching. I have felt the same feelings as John McCusker. If you ever lived in New Orleans you would have had these feelings as well. We all want to be part of the rebuilding but being here and surviving day to day is much harder than we thought. John was very truthful in his observations and I found myself crying at the descriptions of his thoughts.

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Broadcast History

Brown Student Radio, WELH 88.1fm
May 12, 2006

Timing and Cues

Opens with ambient food noise

Related Website

http://bsrlive.com