Feature: Live@YVR

Last week, I was assigned to spend 24 hours at YVR with Jaeger Mah, winner of the airport’s Live@YVR contest. Sure, it sounds a little ridiculous to think spending a whole day at the airport constitutes news but it’s one of those rare assignments that are just plain fun for the heck of it. Plus, news isn’t always politics and crime — sometimes, it’s just sharing something with readers that they don’t get to experience themselves.

For the majority of my 24 hours, I hung out with Jaeger and his childhood friend Dallas, running around the airport, filming different people, places and plain ol’ cool things to do at YVR. I even got to hang out in the cockpit of an Airbus A330. Not a lot of people can say they’ve done that. We saw the ins and outs of the airport, a lot of cool things going on that the public generally doesn’t get to see.

Anyway, Jaeger invited me to be in his video and I reluctantly agreed — I’m not exactly a broadcast kind of girl. Strangely enough, I enjoyed it even though I didn’t appear on camera once the whole year I was in journalism school. I usually stuck to being behind the camera. The video’s been posted and it’s a pretty fun clip. You can check it out below.

Now, a couple quick answers to some questions I’ve fielded. I’m sure Jaeger will appreciate these…

Is the guy legit?
Yes, Jaeger is legit. He’s funny, outgoing, carries himself well, is very comfortable on camera and just likes to kick back and grab a beer. A lot of people saw his original entry video and thought that he was a little too self-promoting and was trying a little too hard to sell himself. The point many miss is that the entire contest was about finding the right person to be YVR’s storyteller.

When Jaeger and I sat down for our interview, I asked him about this and he admits that the video is definitely a video resume of sorts. The thing people need to realize, however, is that Jaeger didn’t put on a persona when he appeared in his entry video. The friendly, very relaxed guy that you see is very much the same Jaeger in real life. You might wonder if I’m falling under the same spell Patrick Fugit experienced in Almost Famous. I thought maybe I was too. After all, Jaeger is quite charming — it’s how he won this contest. Later, I cracked a joke and his friend Dallas said, “You can come party with us in Port Alberni anyday.” Humour crosses boundaries and barriers and we connected over that. The fact that my type of humour seemed to be their kind of humour showed that we were operating on a different level than just the typical “media” relationship.

Did I ask Jaeger any uncomfortable questions? Some. Did we crack jokes that were “off the record?” A little. But the thing about balancing your relationships in this business is that you need to know where to draw the line. I didn’t give Jaeger any reason to mistrust me and he didn’t try to sell me any crap. It’s about straight-shootin’. I don’t doubt that having his good friend around at the same time probably helped him to feel more relaxed than if it had just been me and a him — a reporter and her interview subject.

While some of you still don’t believe me and are still convinced Jaeger probably tried to sell me a good story, you should know that he’s also wary himself. During our time together, he mentioned that his favourite people at the airport asked nothing of him, unlike others who try to slip in here and there a small detail they hope Jaeger will promote via the Live@YVR project.

Isn’t this just a promotional tool for the airport?
Yes and no. The goal of the project was to celebrate YVR’s 80th anniversary and to tell the world about all the great things YVR has to offer. That’s PR speak for promoting the airport so yes, in a way, it’s really just a promotional tactic to sell the airport. However, it’s not something the communications team is shy about. Spokeswoman Rebecca Catley told me the team loves the airport so why wouldn’t they want to show it off to the world? If businesses benefit from that, then that’s great too. The great thing is that from this one PR tactic, a whole slew of stories and an entire community has emerged to welcome the world’s prying eyes.

There are certain assignments that are arranged for Jaeger to cover (i.e. exploring the bag hall to see where your luggage goes, introducing Air China’s new businesses class cabins) and some are quite obviously promotional in nature. But through these assignments, Jaeger’s been able to dig up little stories here and there, details that give the airport character and flavour.

The night I was on assignment, Jaeger was assigned to cover Air China’s new business class cabins. While doing his interviews, he began to chat with David Solloway, Air China’s senior advisor Canada, about a ton of other things. Solloway’s whole family is in aviation, a long legacy of pilots and airline professionals. I didn’t catch the whole story but Jaeger is hoping to go back and share more of Solloway’s story. Catley, the YVR spokeswoman I mentioned earlier, shared a story with me about how her dad is able to recognize a plane’s engine just by the distant sound of rumbling. It’s histories like these that Jaeger’s been trying to share with the world.

So whether you think living at the airport for 80 days is weird, cool or just a corporate sales tactic, don’t shun Jaeger because of it. He’s a cool guy with some big dreams and an interesting way of sharing stories. I highly recommend you follow his blog over the second half of his YVR residency and see what else there is to explore at YVR.

Here’s a couple of my favourite shots from the 24-hour adventure.

Jaeger Mah looks out the window of his Fairmont YVR hotel room. Photo by Stephanie Ip.

Jaeger Mah sits in the cockpit of an Airbus A330. Photo by Stephanie Ip.

Jaeger Mah chats with Air China’s senior advisor Canada David Solloway about
the brand new business class cabins on an Airbus A330. Photo by Stephanie Ip.

Jaeger Mah steals a quick bite to eat in between shooting segments for CNN. Photo by Stephanie Ip.

Featured Photo: I caught a quick catnap in the terminal while on my 24-hour assignment. Photo by, yes, me.


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