Nashville from Wolfy's Den courtesy of Kerry Woo and his handy cameraLast week, on Thursday night, I went with Kerry Woo to an event WKRN News 2 was throwing for Nashville Is Talking. I wrote a little bit about it before hand, but I didn’t write much because I didn’t really didn’t know what to expect.

Kerry picked me up at the house and we drove to Wolfy’s Den together, arriving at the perfect time, 15 minutes after the start of the party. As we arrived on the 3rd floor, I scanned the room and confirmed my expectations — I didn’t know a single person there. Of course that didn’t stop me. 😛 I made my way to the bar, ordered up a Yazoo Hefeweizen and started making the rounds.

As I introduced myself, I found that there was a pretty diverse group there. It wasn’t just “geeks”, but professional writers, WKRN video journalists, mobile content distributors, and bloggers of every type. Kerry was a huge help, because if I found myself in a lull, I could make my way to where Kerry was standing and he’d make an introduction to get me jump started again.

Speaking of Kerry, he was a regular social butterfly. Every time I looked up he was being hugged and greeted by someone new. Everyone seemed to know him and you could tell that they were all happy to see him. Mike Rohde and I often call ourselves Kerry’s “blog fathers” since we encouraged him to get into blogging and I suppose you could say that I was one proud papa. 😉

One of the first people I met was Todd Dunn, a video journalist for News 2. I had seen the ads for “video journalists” on television, but I didn’t really know what it was all about. Were these guys bloggers, secret video ninjas, or what? Well Todd set me straight. News 2’s video journalists are one man video juggernauts. They are employees of News 2 and they suggest stories to management. Each of them have certain specialities and as such, generate their own stories, versus just picking stuff off the AP wire. If a story is green lit, the VJ goes out with a high end Sony digital video camera and shoots the footage, conducts the interview, you name it. When they get back to the office, they edit their own footage, write up the story and deliver it. Like I said — a one man video juggernaut. Pretty impressive.

As I made my way round the room, I ended up meeting the group from the This Is Smyrna, TN blog and ended up staying awhile. I found it fascinating to find out what each of them wrote about and to hear funny stories about their podcasts. They all had me in stitches as they recounted their interview with Marivuana Stout Leinhoff. These guys were a hoot!

Once the party was in full swing, the News 2 General Manager, Mike Sechrist, got up to say a few words. After welcoming everyone, he stressed how thankful he was for everyone’s participation in Nashville Is Talking and what a success it’s been. WKRN is one of the few local stations that have made the effort to reach out to the blogging community and Mike says it’s improved things at News 2 immensely. In fact, other networks have taken notice and come down to see how WKRN does things. Not only that, but they’ve been featured in several national and international magazines, including the Japan “Time” magazine!

This wasn’t just a fluff speech either, because Sechrist went on to say that News 2 is very interested in what video bloggers are doing and that they’d like to feature their content in the news broadcast whenever possible. He was quick to point out the fact that there are certain standards that video bloggers would have to meet in order to be picked up. Mike cited the fact that most of the user generated footage they see isn’t up to their standards. Out of a minutes worth of footage, there is typically only a few seconds that News 2 would actually use, so they have to pass on it. To assist video bloggers, they are going to conduct a free video podcasting seminar in the near future, where they will cover the basics of filming news quality footage. Not only that, if they do use your footage, they will pay you for it!

Color me impressed! Free filming classes, bloggers getting recognized by traditional media and on top of that, getting paid for their work. Here I was thinking I was going to some little blogger meetup where bloggers just talk shop. There was the shop talk stuff, but this little get together was so much more. This wasn’t big media pandering to user created content. This was big media helping those users raise their standards and level of quality and at the same time validating what they’re doing and giving them a voice.

As I sat there listening to Mike Sechrist talk, I was suddenly struck with a sense of déjà vu. I was reminded of the first time that Palm reached out the the user community. I was lucky enough to attend the first “Influencers Dinner”, where Palm invited User Group leaders, webmaster, forum leaders and other Palm OS evangelists. It should be noted that this was back before there were blogs, but those in attendance equated to roughly the same thing. Palm brought us all together to hear what we had to say, but more importantly, let us know that they were listening.. I remember how heady those times were because it was the first time the company that I was promoting so heavily (and still do to this day) validated what I was doing.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget it and last Thursday night, I had that feeling again. Not so much for myself, but for everyone else that have been with Nashville Is Talking from the start. I could see the light bulb going off over everyone’s head around the room. They have a voice. They are being heard. And most importantly, they can do even more. Needless to say, there was a rip roaring round of applause when Sechrist finished talking and the room erupted in discussion to digest what he just said.

I meandered around the room a bit and ended up meeting Tim Coble, who is Kat Coble’s husband. He works for a mobile content distributor and we stumbled upon the topic of bicycling. Seems he’s a big of a fan of the sport as I am and we talked for at least an hour about all this cycling. A great guy and we hit it off so well, we even talked about getting together for a ride some day.

Around 10pm, Kerry and I both had a look that said that we were ready, so we made our way to the elevators and headed home. On the way we compared notes and it seems that we both had fun. All-in-all, I had a fantastic time at the party. It FAR exceeded my expectations beyond their wildest dreams and I’m so very thankful that Kerry invited me to attend.

If you’d like to see photos from the event, Kerry posted his set of pictures on Flickr. Oh and one last thing, it appears I’ve been added to the blogroll for Nashville Is Talking!