August 30, 2004

RNCBlog1 - Safety First 

First, thanks to WILL for asking me to share my thoughts with you while I am at the RNC in New York. I hope they provide some level of insight above and beyond the reporting of Illinois Public Radio. A quick introduction -- I am the News Director for WCBU in Peoria, although this week I will be working for all public radio stations in Illinois. After a day and a half of being in New York, I can say the most noticeable thing has been the security and safety measures in place. Looking out my hotel window on Times square I can see four full blocks of 7th Avenue. Each block has at least a dozen police officers stationed on the sidewalks. The police presence gets more intense as you get closer to Madison Square Garden. Yesterday, fellow I-P-R reporter Bill Wheelhouse and I attempted to walk the half-mile to the hotel next to Madison Square Garden where Media Credentials were available. It took us more than two hours to navigate the crowded streets and find street crossings that were open to foot traffic. The protestors were out in force, and made getting around very difficult. We ended up walking around underground in Penn Station and found a exit that opened up on the other side of a police blockade. We got our media credentials, but that same exit was closed on our way back. It took even longer for us to get back. It's not just the protestors that are causing the security delays. To get into Madison Square Garden requires at least an hour, several passes though security checkpoints, hand searches of bags, walking through metal detectors, and repeatedly showing photo I-D along with the appropriate credentials. It is quite an ordeal. But I hate to complain. New York is still a wonderfully dynamic city, and the delegates from Illinois all seem very excited to be here. In the coming days I will continue to post on the kind of issues that may not make it into our reports. In the mean time, keep listening to your public radio station.

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