Matt’s Blog

Did you vote today?

May 6th, 2014 at 5:27 pm by under Matt's Blog

Primary election days always take me back to school. To be specific one particular class: Elections and Electoral Behavior. As enticing as I am sure that title seems to you it was more than enough to hook me. Since 1992, I have a weird fascination (possibly bordering on obsession) with elections.

What I remember most vividly about the class-besides the intstructor’s coffee breath- was the day we discussed why people vote. Professor (we’ll keep him nameless) approached every class with the same intensity of a bull in a china shop. He spoke softly at the beginning of a sentence and then roared to a close; all with random bouts of self-inflicted laughter in between. He enjoyed surprising his students; more than that I think he enjoyed being right when everyone else was wrong.

His question posed to us was: why do people turn out to vote? Our answers seemed pretty good. Some said to see their candidate win or maybe peer pressure. But the professor just smiled menacingly and said, “Ha! You would think that! The truth is the number one reason people vote is civic duty. Now write that down!”

Then he pointed out the flaws in our answers and we shrunk back into our seats. He was easily my favorite professor.

But his point was made. It is so hard today to convince a person their vote matters or that their voice will be heard among the fray of the volatile masses.

Most of us turn out to vote because we feel it’s our duty. It’s our right as Americans. Today could be one of two days this year where you feel like a part of a democracy.

So why did you vote (or not vote) today?

13 Hours to Dallas

November 19th, 2013 at 10:41 pm by under Matt's Blog, Uncategorized

Part of our “The End of Camelot: Through the Valley’s Eyes” coverage actually meant getting outside the WabashValley. Which took myself, Mike Cleff, and photojournalist Gary Brian 13 hours away to the city that shook a nation Dallas, Texas.

You might wonder why? After all if you are following our coverage of the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination you’ll notice every story comes out of the WabashValley. For my part we spoke with Phyllis Hall, a nurse from Oblong, Illinois. But it was her first job in nursing at Dallas’ ParklandMemorialHospital that put her in the way of history.

After reviewing her interview we realized photos and file video would only go so far. In order to really show you what Phyllis saw and what happened, we needed to go where it happened. So we drove 13 hours to Dallas.

The first thing you’ll see when you go to Parkland Hospital is a medical-megaplex. High-rise hospitals and parking garages engulf the original building that tried to save President Kennedy’s life.

But, the original brick structure and the emergency room ambulance bay are still there. If you close your eyes you can imagine the black convertible pulling in and chaos unfolding. Nurses, doctors, police, and bystanders were rushing the man who was king of Camelot to the emergency room.

We met Phyllis outside the emergency room on a cloudy Monday in October. We had already interviewed her in Oblong, but we wanted her to tell you the rest of her story where it happened. Almost 50 years after it happened.

It’s still a little eerie as she describes the scene only 30 yards from where the President took his last breaths and his heart beat for the last time. And if you watch part 2 of Phyllis Hall’s story you can almost re-live his final moments through her eyes; as she and a team of doctors race to save the 35th President’s life.

It’s a story that, even during her interview, captivated me. So I hope it came across that way on your screen. If you’re like me you might wonder: who among us right now could be connected with a significant time in the future?  After all Phyllis is just girl from Oblong whose life took a detour for history all because of a job she chose.

I guess if you want to tell the story right, you’ve got to go see it for yourself, even if it takes 13 hours to get to Dallas.

Looking at life’s moments

August 2nd, 2013 at 5:06 pm by under Matt's Blog

I originally wanted to call these pieces: “Matt Meets…” You know, as in ‘Matt meets a man with a unique talent’ and so on.

But, after a discussion with the legendary Mark Allen, we decided eventually viewers might think I was writing stories about your local grocery’s deli counter. As much as I do enjoy lunch meats, I didn’t want to distract from the stories I wanted to tell.

 We reporters get to meet interesting people everyday. It’s one of the perks of the job and over time you find every one of those people has a story. Each story is interesting, but most people get nervous telling their own.

 It makes sense. Most of the time when you tell your buddies a story, there isn’t a camera and two complete strangers hanging on your every word. It’s just plain awkward.

 Still, it’s those stories that make life interesting. And they are all around us. You never know what quirky hobby or astonishing tales come from the people around you. But, I bet when you hear it, you’re amazed.

 So that was my idea here. I wanted to take a moment out of your week to find those stories that strike me as interesting, or out of the ordinary, and share them with you.

 Everyone we’ve met so far in “Matt’s Moments” is one of those people that everyday takes a moment out of the day to look at life differently. Think of it, as a collection of people who everyday in life “stop and smell the roses.”

 In the last month, we’ve met a hero who survived the Bataan Death March of World War Two and still lives in West Terre Haute. We rode a roller coaster with a man who built one in his own backyard. Most recently, we spent time with a southern Indiana man who carves wooden sculptures with a chainsaw.

I don’t know where we are headed for the next story. But, I do know the one that’s out there waiting for us is going to surprise even me. Who knows it could even be you. If you think you’ve got an interesting story (or maybe you know someone else who does) let us know.

(And if you do click here)

The Emerald City…

February 18th, 2013 at 10:08 pm by under Matt's Blog

I’ll start this entry by admitting, I am no arborist. What I know about them is confined to big trees and small trees.

But, this week I got an education on the damage inflicted upon Ash trees by the Emerald Ash Borer. Like a modern day swarm of locusts, these bugs tear across the landscapes and in a period of 8 years decimate the tree’s population.

My first thought was: how does this affect me? Think about it. I had to for a while. Outside of the tangential relation between trees and my oxygen, there wasn’t much for me to lean on. But as I looked into the information, i found it costs city’s millions each year. (Fort Wayne paid $1.1 million to remove their 4,400 dead trees last year.) If you have a tree on your property and it dies, you pay to have it removed. Suppose the tree dies and you are oblivious? One or two bad wind storms and that tree could be uprooted and cause significant damage to your home or worse.

Next time you are driving down the street and you see the criss-crossed diamond bark of the ash trees, imagine that same street with all of those trees missing. It’s an interesting sight. Then imagine the price tag your city will have to pay to remove them and what services they may not be able to perform because of that. Then these little bugs might hit a little closer to home.

But maybe you’ll just miss how your street or yard looked with them on it; and that’s ok too.

The Final Countdown…to Election Day

October 31st, 2012 at 4:47 pm by under Matt's Blog, News, Uncategorized, WTHI Blog

Well we are just 6 days away from the election and no matter where I turn people want to talk politics. For me it can be a little bittersweet. All the excitement leading up and Wednesday the 7th it’s all over.

Since 1992, elections have been my hobby; obviously the presidential election is exciting, but yes I love the off-year city council elections just as much. I think it’s the one time we participate in a singularly unique process across the world, specifically the Electoral College. (Now whether or not you agree or disagree with the process is a whole different argument; email me or message me if you’d like to share your opinion.)

But back to the week leading up, today Joe Astrouski (of News and Storm Team 10 fame) and I were talking about past elections and some of the fun facts associated with them, so I thought I’d share some with you:

Did you know?

-since 1860, Republicans have won every presidential election held on November 6th.
1860: Abraham Lincoln defeated Stephen Douglas
1888: Benjamin Harrison beat Grover Cleveland
1900: William McKinley over William Jennings Bryan
1928: Herbert Hoover beat Al Smith
1956: Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson
1984: Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale

-No Republican presidential candidate has won an election in the last 60 years without a Nixon or Bush on their ticket.

-Only 12 US presidents have been elected for a second term.

-No Democrat has won consecutive elections by a majority of the popular vote since Franklin Roosevelt.

If you search on the internet there are copious facts for the election, but I thought I’d share those with you.

Enjoy the next 6 days. After that politics returns to it’s place on the back burner.

If you have any fun facts, questions, or memories of past presidential races share them here.

World War 2 Planes come to Terre Haute

August 1st, 2012 at 9:57 pm by under Matt's Blog, News, Uncategorized, WTHI Blog

“We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air…we shall never surrender” –Winston Churchill

If you have been reading this blog then you know by now I love history. It’s how I got started with the archive stories and it’s what makes theWabashValley so interesting to me. Whether we know it or not, so much history has happened all around us. Today, I got to see the most important story of the last 100 years of American history up close. (Well it’s at least one of the most important.) World War Two.

As the war raged on in Europe and the Pacific, American men (just 18 or older, barely men really…) left their homes to go abroad.  It was different than World War I or any previous war.

This one seemed to threaten the American way of life. Japan performed the first enemy attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812. (British would say we were the enemy on their soil, even then.)Germany had steamrolled the nations of Europe in the blink of an eye.

 So our grand-parents and great-grand parents left their homes; many after just graduating high school or college.

One of the people I met today was one of those now great-grandparents. If you see the story, you’ll meet Archie Goodwin, a crew member on a B-17.

Archie, now 88, lit up when he saw the old plane at the Terre Haute airport. He was too excited to contain himself. Talking shop with the current pilot, sharing stories with me and the current crew, and showing his family his home in the sky from 1944 till the end of the war.

But even beneath his story you will see that Archie was just a young kid when he went to war. He told me he wasn’t ever really afraid until later on in the war. When he and his crew were told that they had a three minute lifespan over a target. He and his crew survived enemy aircraft fire that significantly damaged their plane and in the end the war was won.

These young men and women went home; as heroes that faded into society. They got jobs, raised families, and then had grandkids. Some loved talking about their war days. Others kept quiet for years.

We don’t take for granted that they sacrificed their youth for our country. We just forget. The greatest generation put us on a course for global domination. They clung to a philosophy evem after the war, similar to the one Winston Churchill had: never surrender.

These days it gets easier to forget. Right now World War Two veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. It’s a tragedy that the greatest generation is leaving us, when we need their character the most. In such a tough time in our nation’s history, a turning point, we could take a page from their book.

Or maybe just a motto: Never Surrender.

Look Back in WTHITV History-July 22nd

July 25th, 2012 at 11:32 am by under Matt's Blog, WTHI Blog

I hope you folks have enjoyed watching these Look Back segments as much as I have enjoyed making them.  In case you were wondering, each little segment takes a fair amount more work than your average newscast story. The easiest part is the recording the intro. It’s finding the stories that’s tough.

Our actual archives only date back to 1982. That was the year we began keeping tapes. Prior to that, tapes were so expensive we just recorded over stories after each week. Then from 1982 until 1998, we have no actual written copy of the stories and some tapes actually are missing.  But, we only have a log of every story done from 1989 to the current time. (That gap from 1982 to 1988, is tough to navigate.) So you see it’s a bit of a process. But that is part of the fun.

You see, this week’s Look Back had one of the top stories of 1994. The Federal Trial of fiveTerre   Hauteofficers vs. then-Mayor Pete Chalos’ administration. If you’ve seen the story you know the shorthand of it. (Five officers who had supported George Ralston in the previous election were suddenly switched off their regular shifts; and they believed it was because of their political allegiance.)

As I ran across the stories we did, I couldn’t find the outcome. That particular tape, 1356, was not in the order it was supposed to be in. (In fact I found all 5 tapes around it. 1352,1353,1354,1355,1357…you get the idea.) So I decided to find out how the tape was decided by calling some of the people who were involved in that case, 18 years ago.

I started by calling Gerald Loudermilk’s second cousin, Norm Loudermilk. Gerald was the assistant chief during the trial and testified on behalf of the officers.  Norm was not directly involved in the case, but was police officer for THPD back then. He remembered the case, but not the exact outcome. (It was 18 years ago…mind you, I can barely remember what I had for lunch; so it was a tall order.) But, he did tell me that the case brought significant changes to THPD. They formed their union from it and got a bigger place at the bargaining table, at least when it came to dealing with city hall. He thought on a whole the case may have been a split decision.

So I called Jim Bopp. TheTerre Hautebased attorney was on the legal team that represented the officers.  When he answered, he kind of laughed; how could he not? Here I am harassing him on Sunday morning about a case from 18 years ago.  But, Esquire Bopp (Is that the proper term for an attorney Esquire? I never know…) remembered the case right away.

“The judge ruled that Mayor Chalos had done nothing to violate the constitution,” he said when prompted.

18 years later, as though it was read to him yesterday.

That’s what is so neat about these segments. I get to see history that I wasn’t here to witness. Sometimes I get to interact with the subjects of the story and hear their memories; as they look back.

You can watch my full story by clicking play below. If you would like to see the orgional stories referenced in this piece, click here.



LOOK BACK: July in News 10 history:

 CLICK HERE to see more look back stories!

Cross controversy in Dugger

July 17th, 2012 at 11:26 am by under Matt's Blog, WTHI Blog

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”


If you’ve read or heard anything about the cross controversy in Dugger, no doubt you’ve also seen the debate behind the story. Local folks in the town looking to keep their religious symbol put in place in 2010 and folks in D.C. saying it has to go. However you may feel about it each side has valid points.


The constitution demands a separation of church and state. We can guess as to what were the founding father’s intentions, but the fact remains that only they knew what they meant by it; and it was probably brought on by events in history.


I am history buff, but for your sake here is the short of it:


Around the dawn of the British Empire, as we know it, one religion was generally prescribed for the masses.


It was usaully a Christian based faith; beginning with Catholicism and splintering off into Anglican, back to Catholicism, for a brief time to Arminianism and so forth.


With each change the minority faiths felt the brunt of some form of persecution from the kings. Ultimately, we had immigrants leaving England to form our colonies; many to escape that very problem. So when the constitution was written one of the major thoughts in the back of the founders’ minds must have been:  “Let’s no do that again…”


The end result: no national religion; but the only actual law written on it was this:


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”…you get the idea.


Does that mean the founding fathers didn’t want a town to vote to put a cross up on government property? Maybe…but more than likely they would have been more upset if Dugger forced everyone in town into Christianity; and for that matter simply the Faith Community Church.


But in the same token would putting a cross up on government property begin a slipper slope to Dugger and other towns eventually having a set religion for their citizens. Common sense may say no, but legal minds would say: if you can get the door to crack, eventually you can kick it in.


Regardless of how you feel we can all agree on one thing: debate is the true freedom of America. The fact that I can type these words and you can type your responses and no government or group can legally persecute you for this particular opinion…it’s something we take for granted.


Which is why I started with the quote at the top, (Usually attributed to French author Voltaire, but has several different believed origins.) it’s an idea we should all rally behind: Freedom of opinion.