By Joseph J. O’Donnell
Photos by Daniel C. Harrell
ED- We are interviewing Michelle Gabriele -Harrell, Producer for both Radio and Television in Norfolk, Virginia.
ED- Michelle, Tell us something about yourself, your career, and the people that you work with.
MGH- My father worked over 40 years in the radio broadcasting industry. I went in the opposite direction and decided I liked the TV aspect of the broadcast world. Later, I ended up with the Best of both worlds. Fresh out of college after majoring in television and journalism, I landed my first job at one of the Greatest stations, the local PBS affiliate here in Norfolk, WHRO TV 15. I started out in Master Control, what I like to call the heartbeat of the station. Then I moved on to production and learned every aspect I could. I found the technical side fascinating, and challenging. I couldn’t get enough and the passion to create took over. I had the strong desire to take the visions that were in my mind and capture them through the lens of a camera or straight into a microphone in a recording studio. There are no words to describe when you put something together and see or hear it for the first time. The idea you once envisioned then becomes a full-blown reality. For me the “motivation” is when someone comes up to me and says that they were touched by my work, moved by it, or even spooked by it, then I receive the most gracious reward.
I feel very honored to be able to work beside some of the most creative and talented individuals in the industry. Teamwork is essential and hardtocome by at times in this business. When you find the right chemistry with the right crew and talent, it is magical. I really feel I owe a lot toWHRO TV 15 PBS, WHRV 89.5 FM & WHRO 90.3 FM. The three stations took a chance and not only gave me my first break, but believed in me and my work which ultimately helped take me to another level in my career.
I am currently producing shows for the City of Norfolk and continue to work on other outside projects. I get asked quite often, “ What’s it like to do what you do? What are the people like that you interview or work with?” I often just smile and say, “ You know they say it takes a village to raise a child? Well, I have one Very talented, creative village, and they have raised me well.”
ED- We understand that you have something to share with our readers about “Halloween Haunts”. Tell us about it and all the excitement that it has generated.
MGH- I created Halloween Haunts originally for WHRV 89.5 FM and WHRO 90.3 FM. I have a love for Halloween and the supernatural. I wanted to create something that was not only fun, but also educational, something all ages could enjoy. Virginia has the most interesting history, and along with it comes great legends and lore that have been passed down through the centuries. I took the haunting tales and wove them into a tapestry of stories and recorded them in the studio with one of the greatest Audio Engineers, Allen Sykes. Allen also became not only my audio engineer, but also my vocal coach and sound designer. His work is incredible and together, after long hours in the studio we together as a team produced Halloween Haunts. The radio stations then submitted the Haunts that we had recorded to itunes. A few days later, the station got an acceptance email from Apple and Halloween Haunts became an over night sensation!!! People from all over the world were downloading the short stories I had recorded, and that Halloween it was ranked the #1 download in the nation. The stations began receiving phone calls, I began receiving emails and became it’s own entity. Halloween Haunts has been recognized with several awards.
Due to the popularity on the radio, the local PBS station that was in the same building decided to take a gamble and let me take it to the next level. Halloween Haunts became a half hour TV show that I produced and voiced. I remember holding my breath the first time it aired. WHRO TV 15 received the viewing numbers from that night and was the most watched television program in the area. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment. I cannot take all the credit for the show’s success. I had a dedicated crew that was just as passionate as I was to see a dream turn into a reality. My husband Daniel, (who is also in the business), was my Director of Photography for the television show. The magic and chemistry between what was in my mind, Daniel found through his camera lens. The results were not only stunning, but ended up being award winning. Daniel is also the one who took the “infamous” photo of me as the “Lady in White” that is on the Halloween Haunts website, on posters, screen savers and t- shirts.
Halloween Haunts turns four this year and it’s fans continue to grow from all around the world. I am in the process of compiling a bunch of Haunting stories from all over and including the thirty-seven I have recorded so far and turning them into a book of short stories. You can discover more about Halloween Haunts and download the haunting tales or see the trailer from the show at www.halloweenhaunts.org/. There is a place on the site where you can email me your comments or questions, or suggestions. Halloween Haunts can now also be found on Facebook.
ED- Tell us about some of the other TV and Radio stories that have worked on or you are currently producing.
MGH- I have produced everything from promos to segments to half hour shows to Documentaries. The topics have ranged from Spooky to real life personal stories. I am currently producing full time for the City of Norfolk. I produce a show that airs weekly called, “Norfolk Perspectives”.
Radio has been one of my great escapes and I love the aspect of painting a picture so vivid, that the listener can see and feel what you are trying to convey. I have been fortunate enough to sit down with some of the most amazing individuals and record their stories. I had the pleasure of interviewing Col. Edward Shames, who was the “Original” Band of Brothers member during WW II and they based the HBO series off of him because he was the leader. “WW II Hampton Roads Heroes”, won a VAB award in 2008 for WHRV 89.5 FM. I also produced and hosted another hour-long show called, “ Holocaust Voices”, where I interview five survivors and get there first hand accounts. I have recorded several promos, created contests, and go on air and help raise money for the two radio stations and TV station…
I am currently gearing up for Halloween for both television and radio. Halloween Haunts will be ready to hit the airwaves once again. I am also currently awaiting a call back from a publisher to give me the go a head and grant me a radio interview with one of the Biggest Horror writers out there. If all goes as planned, it will be big, but then again…. that’s a whole other story.
Thank you for the interview, I wish you continued success, and as always “ Happy Haunting.”
ED- This is the kind of stuff that our readers love to know about. Eerie Digest fans not only enjoy reading mysteries, but also love tales about things that “go bump in the night”. Michelle has included a trailer for our viewers to learn more about “Halloween Haunts” featured in Norfolk, Virginia. We look forward to working with her, and her organization, in upcoming articles. We ask all of our readers to visit Norfolk, and experience “Halloween Haunts” for yourselves.