Grin and Barrick: News boss tackles learning curve

Ric Barrick sits in the hot seat– at 6 and 11.

It's not forecasting the weather in front of a blank "green screen" that's building pressure. He's had 15 years experience doing that.

Nor is it taking on the responsibilities of a TV station news director– he did that at his old station in Salisbury, Maryland.

The heat on Barrick? Getting a newscast together for two brand new stations while working out the kinks– on the air, in front of his hometown.

WCAV Channel 19 News quietly began broadcasting a month ago. "We kind of snuck on the air," he says. "The reason is we're just getting used to the equipment."

The CBS affiliate and its soon-to-follow ABC sister station, WVAV Channel 16, will be among the few "tapeless" stations in the country. Even a vet like Barrick needs to get used to state-of-the-art technology that allows him to draw on the green screen with his finger.

Right now, weather is less a concern for him. As news director for the still-under-construction stations in the Frank Ix building, "The challenge is trying to put out a good product with drilling going on in the background," he says.

Barrick is well aware that WVIR NBC29 has the home court advantage.

"They probably have us beat on contacts and quantity," he concedes. "We want to beat them on quality."

A typical day starts at 10am with a morning meeting with reporters. On the day the Salvation Army kicks off its kettle drive, Barrick urges the reporter covering it to be creative in telling a "deeper" story.

He leaves around noon for the gym and lunch, and is back around 2pm for the mid-afternoon meeting. Around 4:30 or 5, he finally forecasts the weather.

The 6pm broadcast is immediately followed by another meeting– "to correct things and get them right for the 11 o'clock newscast," says Barrick. By 1am, he's home and can call it a day.

What wakes him up in the middle of the night? "Thinking about the previous night's broadcast and how we could have done it better," he confesses.

Barrick acknowledges that when WCAV went on the air, "Things weren't 100 percent– and they're still not 100 percent."

But turning out a smooth newscast on a brand new station isn't something that happens overnight. "In six months, look at us and see how far we've come," he predicts.

As for mastering the learning curve under local scrutiny, Barrick is unfazed. "That will make me a better news director," he says. "I get a critique from my mom every day."

Age: Somewhere close to 40.

Why here? There is no place more beautiful, seriously. When I was restless and growing up here, I couldn't wait to get out, but now that I'm "somewhere close to 40," I can't think of any place I'd rather be. Plus, I can still sample my mom's home cooking with a short drive.

Worst about living here? Traffic (What happened while I was gone?) and the cost of a gym membership

Favorite hangout? Taking the dogs for a walk up the trail to Monticello. It's a great way to clear your mind.

Most overrated virtue? Patience

People would be surprised to know: Hopefully, that I'm "somewhere close to 40" but besides that, perhaps that I love to roller blade

What would you change about yourself? I'd like to create more time for myself so that I can read and volunteer more. Those are some goals for 2005.

Proudest accomplishment? Professionally, that I was able to do weather in Philadelphia for a year and not sink under the pressure. Personally, that I have turned out to be a very compassionate person.

People find most annoying about you: My staff would probably say that I'm not able to answer many questions without adding "I'm not sure, let me get back to you on that."

Whom do you admire? Anyone who's able to see the larger picture and act with the best interest of everyone affected, regardless of how that would influence them personally

Favorite book? Life's Little Instruction Book. My father should have written this long ago.

Subject that causes you to rant? Intolerant and self-righteous people who don't respect the opinions of others

Biggest 21st-century thrill? Wireless Internet– an amazing invention that boggles my mind

Biggest 21st-century creep out? Reality shows

What do you drive? A somewhat fuel-efficient SUV

In your car CD player right now: I'm an NPR or news radio freak, so the CD doesn't get much play. Perhaps Enya, but don't tell anyone.

Next journey? Contentment

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? I was involved in an unfortunate shaving-cream-on-a-front-door incident in high school. I was out on a date with the nicest girl in high school, and her mother had to come get her out of the Charlottesville police station. I will never forget the look she gave us all.

Regret: That I haven't mastered a second language

Favorite comfort food: Spudnuts. They melt in your mouth.

Always in your refrigerator: Diet Coke and something sweet

Must-see TV: CBS 19 News at 6 and 11. You were expecting something else?

Favorite cartoon: Anything Simpsons

 Describe a perfect day: Anywhere outdoors on a warm, breezy September day surrounded by animals

Walter Mitty fantasy: Owning an island in the middle of the Caribbean with a lot of animals

Who'd play you in the movie? Homer Simpson, but I would settle for Colin Farrell.

Most embarrassing moment? I was doing weather in Washington and wearing a wireless microphone and had to go to the bathroom. You can fill in the blanks.

Best advice you ever got? Anything from my father. In my older age, it's all come true.

Favorite bumper sticker? God bless the rest of world too.