Commentary: Lessons from a Cringeworthy Live Television Spot

This is a teaching moment for my fellow media professionals. It may also be one for you.

This past week, a video popped up from Sacramento CW affiliate KMAX-TV where their Good Day Sacramento program was broadcasting live from the Cal Expo grounds at the Sacramento International Auto Show. The station sent reporter Angel Cardenas on-site to do a preview of the show's final day.

At the live spot, Cardenas was inside of an exhibit featuring some wonderful looking cars that belong to members of the Sacramento Classic Thunderbird Club. What happened as soon as the cameras went live was at best described as unbelievable.

If you have seen the clip, you will notice that Cardenas did not have his facts right about the show and the exhibit. Then, he proceeded to jump onto the rear quarter area of a yellow Ford Thunderbird. You can hear the studio hosts just wince and react to this journalistic faux pas.

Then, Cardenas thought it was a great idea to get into another privately owned 1956 Thunderbird that was tightly parked next to another car. He dinged the door of the one Thunderbird against the other, though it was reported that there was no damage to either vehicle.

The video cut to the Ford booth where he met up with a local representative from the brand. He confused several models of Fords when interviewing the representative. Then, Cardenas asked her if he can pose on the hood of one of the Fords. After some hemming and hawing from the Ford representative, Cardenas scampered under the barrier made for a 2020 Explorer and proceeded to jump on the hood of it.

After saying on-air – live – that he "better get off" of the Explorer before he "gets in trouble." He did. The producers of the auto show contacted the station regarding Cardenas and his behavior on the floor. KMAX-TV terminated him immediately after the live shot.

What happened afterward could not be avoided. The jury that is social media simply let Cardenas, the program, and the station know how upset they were that this happened live across the KMAX viewing area. Others rebroadcasted the clip to more reaction – of course, all against the reporter’s behavior and lack of tact during his live spot on air.

Most likely, you have joined the chorus. You probably thought many things and used many words and emojis to describe the reporter's actions. You may have also speculated as to why he acted as such on air. Cardenas had been with Good Day Sacramento since 2012 and have worked in the market at another network affiliate, along with a radio gig. Incidentally, this is not the first time Cardenas behaved unprofessionally on air. There is a reel he uploaded onto his YouTube showing him "having fun" on-air at his prior television gig.

This is not about Cardenas and what he did on-air at the Sacramento International Auto Show or at any time prior to this incident during his media career. It is about us. Us, meaning media professionals, automotive enthusiasts, and countless others.

What I saw from the clips out of Sacramento made me cringe. It completely pissed me off. I felt embarrassed to call him a fellow media professional, even though he was terminated by the station soon afterward.

This episode also made me think of many things I witnessed when working the auto show circuit, at press events, at car meets – big and small. I’ve seen the good and the bad. We all have seen it, too.

There is an expectation of a behavior by us when we are at events, such as the Sacramento International Auto Show, a local dealership, a press event, or at a local car meet. If we are curious about a vehicle, we should find someone to ask for more information about it. If we wanted to sit inside of a vehicle or attempt to drive it, we ask permission to do so. If that answer is "no," accept the answer and thank the person you are asking permission from.

It's common sense, right?

Sadly, there are those who do not understand the concept of common sense. Nor are they aware of a protocol when it comes to a privately owned vehicle on display at a given event. We're not talking children here – we're talking adults.

Yet, this is also a teaching moment. I hope that you have seen the clip somewhere online and take to heart that what the reporter did is not acceptable behavior anywhere – especially in the car world we live in!

Respect and enthusiasm actually go hand-in-hand. So does respect and professionalism. I hope we have the capacity to respect one another and the vehicles that live around us – at home, at an auto show, at a press event, at a dealership, at a car meet – anywhere! It is simple to state this, but it takes common sense to apply this in the real world.

Photo by Randy Stern

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