Archive for June, 2013

The Charles Ramsey Collection: A look at the making of an internet sensation

June 22, 2013

John Kosich wraps up interview with Charles Ramsey as he gives the thumbs up on his way to internet stardom.

John Kosich wraps up interview with Charles Ramsey as he gives the thumbs up on his way to internet stardom.

In 23 years of working in television news I have never had a week, like the one that started around 6:30 p.m. May 6, 2013.

While waiting for a story to start in Bay Village, my photographer Tom Livingston rolled down the window of his live truck “I’m being pulled, you’re staying,” he told me. The assignment desk had just called and said some woman called 9-1-1 saying she was Amanda Berry, a Cleveland woman who disappeared ten years earlier on the eve of her 17th birthday.

So out of right field was this news that he immediately followed it without missing a beat with “so I’ll be right back.”

The news as well didn’t strike me as being real either. We had covered so many false hopes over the years in the search for Amanda and Gina DeJesus, who vanished a year later only a short walk away from where Amanda was last seen.

We had anxiously waited along with both families on two different occasions when police acting on credible tips dug up an empty lot and the garage of a home looking for Amanda and Gina’s bodies respectively.

So this latest news had to be just someone making a sick crank call to police.

Just a few minutes after Livingston left with the live truck, that perception would change when the assignment desk called my cell phone and in an urgent voice said you have to go, it looks like Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have both been found and they’re both alive!

How I didn’t get a speeding ticket I don’t know but as I raced to Seymour Avenue on Cleveland’s west side my stomach began to turn in a way I had rarely felt. So many years of seeing the pain and anguish in these families faces as they gathered each April to mark the respective anniversaries of the girls’ disappearances, could it really be ending?

As I pulled up to Seymour Avenue I ditched the car on West 25th and made my way through the growing crowd, Livingston was already setting up the truck to establish a live shot I began scanning the crowd looking for familiar faces from either family to get confirmation.

It was in this time that I overheard a man telling his story of the rescue, the man was Charles Ramsey.

As I waited for them to come to me on the air I began interviewing Charles on tape because I didn’t want to lose him in the crowd and he told me of the “amazing sh#t” that had just happened.

When they came to me live a minute or two later Charles was still within arm grabbing distance so I immediately brought him in and asked him to tell the story that began with him hearing screaming… the rest is viral video history.

As the interview was going on what was going through my mind was the fact that Charles had just dropped the “S” bomb prior to us going live so my fear was him dropping another on live TV. They were telling me in my ear to wrap it up and toss it back when Charles delivered what would be the most famous line “I knew something was wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Dead giveaway, dead giveaway.”

In my mind I’m thinking OK where are you going with this so I thanked him and tossed it back, thinking it was a really good interview but I’ve interviewed some colorful people before and began the process of just looking for more information, the next interview in this incredible story. I had no idea what was about to follow.

Within an hour the interview was being played and replayed across the country and our website was exploding with hits as the video was quickly becoming viral.

By the time I got back to the station around 12:30 a.m. the numbers were off the charts and several of my co-workers were telling me you watch this is going to get autotuned, something I had never heard of before. They explained it’s when an interview gets so big it’s set to music and if it’s really big the Gregory brothers will take it on… within 24 hours they did.

With the song and with the attention Charles Ramsey began the process of moving from news figure to pop icon. With the interview popping up on shows like TMZ.

Around the same time Jimmy Kimmel was introducing an even wider audience to Ramsey.

And then came the Taiwanese cartoon recreation of the interview.

I’ve had some amazing interviews over my career, amazing in the sense that the individuals were amazing because of who they were, presidents, celebrities.

This interview ended up surpassing them all in terms of global reach not because of who Charles Ramsey was but what he did and the timing of his coming forward so early in a process where people were starving for insight information into this unimaginable tale.

The global news vacuum in the early stages of this story transformed him in a matter 2-3 hours from a guy eating McDonalds to an international figure.

One of the many Charles Ramsey shirts available for sale on the internet

One of the many Charles Ramsey shirts available for sale on the internet

Finally the French take on the Charles Ramsey phenomena.


Unlikely witness to a Perfect Game

June 12, 2013

My son Aidan before Matt Cain’s June 13, 2012 Perfect Game

So many times in my life I would watch a pitcher at the start of a baseball game retire the side for an inning or two wondering if this might be the elusive jewel of pitching genius in the making, the perfect game.

I usually didn’t have to wait long, like the third or fourth inning, before being disappointed. That would change June 13, 2012 in San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

It was a game we honestly didn’t intend to stay for in its entirety. After a day taking in golf’s U.S. Open practice round at The Olympic Club, my son Aidan and I and our friend Mike who we were visiting, headed downtown to see the Giants take on the Houston Astros.

Aidan in front of the Olympic Club Clubhouse at U.S. Open

Aidan in front of the Olympic Club Clubhouse at U.S. Open

The golf course high above the city had been shrouded in a cool fog that day and even though it had lifted in the city itself the wind coming in off the bay made us wish we had dressed for football not baseball.

We took to our bleacher seats in left center and squinted through the setting sun to watch pitcher Matt Cain retire the side in the first.

Our sun soaked bleacher seats. (As bad as the glare was we hated to see the sun set because then it really got cold.)

Our sun soaked bleacher seats. (As bad as the glare was we hated to see the sun set because then it really got cold.)

The Giants scored two in the bottom of the inning then Cain went 1-2-3 to retire the side again. With the temperature dropping and our stamina fading we quietly thought about calling it a day early for the hour drive home when young Aidan, in his 9-year-old wisdom, blurted out “what if he throws a perfect game?”

We didn’t say anything for even in the second inning the superstition of sport was already rearing its ugly head, don’t acknowledge it and don’t jinx it.

Around the fourth or fifth inning though the cold began to get to us so we made the decision to move from the bleacher seats we scalped for $5 above face, to the standing room section between home plate and third. Shielded from the breeze, monitors in front of us, beer and bathrooms behind us we were set.

Our seats

It was around the seventh inning I put my hands in my pockets and discovered that in my right I had placed the tickets that if this indeed became a perfect game I’d want to hold on to. I thought do I dare move them to a safe place now? Hell no, that would be acknowledging it, don’t jinx it.

As the game moved into the eighth the waiting around I thought was now worth it. I could say I saw a perfect game go into the eighth inning. When Cain retired the side yet again the crowd of 42,298 erupted in a roar unlike any I’ve ever heard.

As the Giants came to bat in the bottom of the eighth the crowd was never so happy to see three of their own make outs and get to the moment that had eluded this franchise for the entirety of its 129 year history in New York and San Francisco.

With the ninth upon us every working camera and every cell phone was poised to capture the momentous occasion. We got to two outs and I had my still camera around my neck and my video camera in hand. I panned from the field to the monitor in front of us showing the crowd going nuts down to my son screaming and proudly showing his SF cap he just got back to the field itself.

As Cain threw the final pitch I zoomed in on the hard throwing righty and heard the crack of the bat. I didn’t know where the ball had gone but a split second later by his reaction and that of the crowd around me I knew indeed this was history.

As I captured the celebration on the field I panned down once again to my son, jumping up and down, his screams drowned by the roar of the crowd around us. I tried to instill in him just how big a deal this was, that we had seen what so few over the history of this great game had. As we left the ballpark I said the way these fans were reacting is what it’s like to be at a ballpark when a World Series is won.

In looking back when we went to California on vacation we packed our baseball gloves, even though we didn’t have room for them, so that we could continue to have our almost daily games of catch. It was that love of the sport that brought us here on this night, this Wednesday before Fathers Day, to share in a moment in baseball history that will forever bond us. A story one day, God willing, he’ll share with his son.

(This is the video I captured of the final out.)

McCovey Cove June 13, 2012

McCovey Cove June 13, 2012

Matt Cain's Perfect Game June 13, 2012

Matt Cain’s Perfect Game June 13, 2012

Aidan overlooking McCovey Cove
aidan giants