MPT staffer produces mid-career change NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

September 30, 1992|By Linda Lowe Morris | Linda Lowe Morris,Staff Writer

Even in the padded-wall quiet of an editing room at Maryland Public Television, Bonnie Grady draws a crowd.

As tapes of some of her past productions of "MPT On Location" flicker across the screen, staff members passing by in the hallway outside lean through the doorway to see what's playing.

With each one she stops to talk, holding a sort of impromptu, hit-and-run business meeting. All the while she is taking notes, watching the screen and working with the editor and his assistant.

"Producers have a reputation as being scatter-brained and going in a million different directions all at once. But that's what it takes to be one," she says with a laugh.

It is easy to imagine, watching her in the middle of her work day, that Bonnie Grady has been on the staff at Maryland Public Television for years. She has the calm assurance of a veteran.

Yet, it was just over a year ago that the Hampstead resident graduated from Western Maryland College with a degree in communications. And it was also just over a year ago that she was offered jobs here as associate producer in the regional productions division and coordinating producer for "MPT On Location."

Bonnie Grady is living a miracle, she will tell you, having accomplished what was only a dream -- and a very far-fetched one -- just five years ago.

"There's an expression that I like," she says during a quiet moment in the editing room. " 'If your mind can see it, you can be it.'

"I saw myself as being in television when I enrolled in school in 1987, and now here I am. But I think if you want something badly enough and you're willing to go after it, you will achieve it."

Ms. Grady's words belie the leap of faith she took just five years ago, when, at 37, she decided to make a mid-life career change.

At the time she had a successful career in wholesale cosmetic sales. When she needed a way to train her salespeople who were scattered across several states, she came up with the idea of making videotapes.

She went to Carroll County Public Access to learn what would be involved in the process, and instead found herself hooked by the magic of making television.

"Once I got a taste of television and saw how spontaneous it can be, and saw how involved television production can be, so multifaceted, then I realized that it was something that I could feel very good about doing," she says.

Everyone she talked to who was involved in television told her she would need a college degree to be successful in the field. She went to Western Maryland one day just to get some advice and information, and came home enrolled as a freshman.

Within six months she had sold her business to devote full time to her dream.

"That's the way I go about things," Ms. Grady says. "I go head first, full steam ahead, Mach 6, my hair on fire all the time. I have to have total involvement in everything I'm doing or I don't want to be a part of it. If I'm not interested, I'm 100 percent not interested. But if I'm interested in something, I'm 100 percent committed to it."

During her years in college she interned at MPT, and volunteered there during the summer months and whenever she could fit it into her schedule. After her junior year she took a summer job at the station, but still was thrilled when she was offered a permanent job.

"I had considered relocating and applied to television stations in several states," she says. "But nowhere felt as much like home to me as this did. When I was offered a job here, it was like the completion of that last long-term goal."

Now she produces "MPT On Location," a production that covers local cultural and community events. It is aired as a series of short segments that go in between regularly scheduled programs.

Ms. Grady and her crew go to such events as the Carroll County Wine Festival, the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards or the Monet exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The tape is sent back to the station by microwave, edited and played within 30 to 90 minutes.

"You have to be a little crazy to want to do it, because it's long hours," Ms. Grady says. "It means being out there no matter what the weather.

"But I go home at night feeling very good about what I've done and very satisfied that I've been a part of creating something that's worthwhile."

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