Focus On Carl

I lost a friend and colleague this week. I visited Carl Finchum the day before he passed. The bond between a photographer and a reporter is like a marriage, with some ups and downs as well as zooms and pans. Our working relationship lasted a decade, from 1994 until about 2004. Much of the success I had during those years was due to Carl’s expertise at his job, his flexibility with my method of reporting and patience with my erratic style. He was a true professional.

At his funeral, most of the eulogies included remembrances about Carl’s faith, his passion for cars and his love of Laurel and Hardy. I had no idea about that last part. I wanted to share some favorite memories, but time ran out and the service ended. Here’s one of my recollections:

In about 1997, we were doing a remote shoot right down Meridian Street from WISH-TV at the old advertising agency Caldwell Van Riper (CVR). They were promoting some sporting events and wanted to highlight upcoming Pacers games. CVR was right next door to WRTV (Channel 6), a fierce competitor with my station (Channel 8). If you remember, I had a Beagle companion named Barney who accompanied me on every shoot. Barney was always escaping and running away while I did my segments.

That morning we were taping on the front lawn of CVR, so I tied Barney’s leash to a flagpole. As always, he managed to get loose. Carl was in his usual position, pointing the camera at me, ready to go live.  He never knew what I was going to do. And neither did I.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Barney had wandered over to the Channel 6 front lawn, and was sniffing their signage. Carl saw Barney, as well, and realized that the sign was just too easy a target for a Beagle. I motioned to Carl to pan his camera over to Barney, who I knew was about to leave his mark on the WRTV logo. Carl thought this was an unwise thing to do, number one because it would showcase a competitor; and number two…well, let’s just leave it at number one for now, although I was pretty sure Barney would leave number two, as well.  Carl just kept shaking his head “no,” fearing that both of us would get in serious trouble if the boss saw this.

Finally, live on camera, I said, “I’m asking Carl to show what Barney is doing and I want our general manager to know I take total blame for this.” Carl shrugged his shoulders, flashed a huge grin and panned over just in time to catch Barney in the act. No, both of the acts.

On the way back to the studio, I thought about what we had done. “Carl,” I said, “I think we are in deep doo-doo.” Carl burst out laughing: “Yeah,” he said, just like the Channel 6 sign.”

Later, there was a note in my mail slot from the boss. “Funniest thing I have ever seen,” he said. “You guys are a great team.” Yes, we were. Like Laurel and Hardy.

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Times of Noblesville. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@