White Smoke and BellsCommentary by Rick Leventhal for FOX Fan Central
White Smoke and Bells
April 21, 2005
April 20, 2005
It's easy to get jaded in this business, seeing and doing as much as we do. Even standing on the field of Yankee Stadium during batting practice at the World Series can seem routine after doing it 18 times.
But being in St. Peterís Square when the white smoke billowed from the copper chimney and seeing the crowds surge ó hearing the cheers and applause, feeling the excitement, tension, and confusion build in the midst of tens of thousands of extremely interested, dedicated, and spiritual people ó waiting until the giant bell of St. Peter's Basilica began rocking back and forth sparking an eruption of joy and celebration, then feeling another elevation of spirit as the red curtains parted and the new pope emerged ó this was an unforgettable experience.
In the middle of the crowd I had the great fortune of meeting a group of American priests studying at the Vatican in Rome. They not only helped educate me on the significance of Cardinal Ratzinger's election, but they also generated a level of enthusiasm that would have been difficult to top by anyone else on the scene.
These men of the cloth were literally jumping up and down, clapping and cheering as the moment drew near. They grinned ear-to-ear, thanking the Lord for the cardinals' swift action and choice for the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church, shouting "fantastic" and "amazing," calling it a blessing.
They were terrific interviews, and they were FOX Fans to boot.
Big props to cameraman Martin Langley, a Brit, who has close to 20 years in the business. We had a wireless camera and microphone, and were able to move freely through the crowd during our live shots in St. Peterís Square, but it was tough work. The camera is heavy to begin with, and weighs significantly more with the RF (wireless radio frequency) gear on the back. Plus, we spent lengthly stretches of time standing by waiting to go live. All I had to hold was the microphone, but Martin had the equivalent of a couple cases of beer on his shoulder. He did some good-natured complaining, of course, but he also did outstanding work. It was cool going live while actually standing in Vatican City. I'm told it's a rare privilege.
The scene was dramatic, historic, compelling, and extremely moving. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed and reported the events of the past three weeks. This was an unforgettable trip. Nothing routine about it.