Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Other Boomtown Hamm

Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm has made a name for himself in the Bakken. As CEO of Continental Resources, his company is the biggest oil producer in western North Dakota. But he’s not the only Hamm in town. A man named Phil Hamm lived in Williston before the boom came to town. He stills lives there today. In this interview I produced for Prairie Public and Marketplace, it’s clear he’s got something to say about the changes the boom has brought.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stuffed Shirts v. Blue Collars

Peo­ple who hate it, call it “pol­lu­tion.” Peo­ple who love it, call it “rollin’ coal.” We’re talk­ing about the plumes of black smoke that come pour­ing out of some diesel pick­ups. These pickup truck own­ers are retro­fitting their rigs to allow for un­burnt diesel fuel to spew from a tailpipe or ver­ti­cal stack dur­ing a fast ac­cel­er­a­tion. When smoke pours from a pipe or stack, the un­burnt diesel is thick and black. An in­ter­view with Mark Pyatt of Killer Diesel Per­for­mance about the young men and women who love to roll coal in oil coun­try.

This story aired on Prairie Public and Marketplace.
   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

'Redneck Innovation is the Best Innovation'

People like to see stuff get wrecked. Which is why demolition derbies are popular attractions at county fairs. A county fair in the Midwest is offering a new twist on this staple of Americana. Instead of a demo derby featuring old cars, one county fair in Minnesota is sponsoring a smash-up derby featuring riding lawn mowers. Here's my story, which aired on NPR's Only a Game, on a lawnmower demo derby.
 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Update: Black Gold Boom and Reuters

In recent months, I've worked on an upcoming PBS television documentary and transmedia project on North Dakota's oil boom. That work is due to be completed later this year. More information is here. In the meantime, I've completed a couple of short features on people affected by the oil boom, including a story of an Arkansas razorback who loves making ribs for roughnecks and a profile of a man who enjoys the solitude of Twin Buttes, North Dakota, a town on the eastern edge of the boom.



Both stories aired on Prairie Public. The razorback making ribs story also aired on Marketplace.

I've also worked as an occasional freelancer for Reuters.

Recent stories:
Minnesota man convicted of killing unarmed teens
Murder trial of Minnesota man who killed teens goes to jury
One child dies, four others injured after car crashes into Minnesota pond
In remote field, North Dakota oil boom suffers first big spill

Friday, November 22, 2013

ITVS Joins AIR and Prairie Public Broadcasting to Support Award-Winning Black Gold Boom

(San Francisco, Calif.) November 20, 2013 - ITVS, AIR, and Prairie Public Broadcasting announce a partnership to help boost support for transformative public media work with a new interactive documentary series to be distributed online and on public television through the Localore initiative.

Created by independent producer Todd Melby, the documentary Black Gold Boom and companion transmedia project “Oil Patch: Code Blue” will be completed in 2014.
Minneapolis-based Melby grew up in North Dakota and has witnessed the way the oil boom has transformed the state’s landscape. He is now reporting on it for the national public radio program Marketplace and has been featured on NPR and PBS NewsHour. Melby is a senior producer for the public media nonprofit 2 below zero, a Minneapolis-based public media nonprofit that produces thoughtful and thought-provoking documentaries.


Black Gold Boom is the recipient of two national journalism awards: 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for best specialized journalism site and 2013 Online News Association award for best feature.

For more about the Black Gold Boom TV project go here.

(ITVS Press Release/Photo by Ben Garvin)

Monday, October 28, 2013

In the Eye of the Boom

What's it like to report on the one of the biggest oil booms in recent history? I tell all, beginning on page 12.

Online News Association award

What do the New York Times, WNYC and Black Gold Boom have in common? All were recent recipients of Online News Association awards for best interactive journalism projects of the past year. I've served as reporter and lead producer of Black Gold Boom, a public media project about North Dakota's oil boom, since its inception in early 2012. The project includes about 50 public radio features and interviews, 10+ videos and an interactive documentary titled, Rough Ride: The Oil Patch Tour. Big thanks to my collaborators at Zeega, Prairie Public and AIR!

Black Gold Boom also won a 2012 Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi awards for best "Specialized Journalism Site" and a regional Edward R. Murrow award for top news series.