Saltwater Portrait: Alan Henney: Resort town responder and news hound
At 16, Henney
followed the story of the Air Florida plane that careened into a bridge over the icy Potomac.
caught wind of the crash over a police radio.
For this Pines' resident, being a watchdog over local emergency departments is a hobby and a career.
" The excitement with monitoring is that you hear it first.
It's like COPS, but it's live," said Henney
is so in touch with media outlets and its professionals that in 2004, on-air journalist Rita Cosby called him to get the inside scoop about the Beltway sniper attacks, he
"We did a good job staying on top of it," said Henney
about teaming up with another friend from CNN
to follow the string of deadly sniper attacks in the Washington, D. C. area.
, who has been coming to Rehoboth Beach since he
was a child, spends time outside of Rehoboth Beach in Takoma Park, Md.
has been " monitoring" emergency calls, since sixth grade, he
in Rehoboth, Henney
manages a few in-town family rental units during the day, with a steady ear directed to many radios around the clock.
In fact, sniffing out news stories is his
During the off-season, Henney is a freelance reporter with Breaking News Network, a news agency in Fort Lee, N. J.
"They like freelance people like me because I have insurance and I'm cheap," he
A front line news gatherer for BNS for 11 years, Henney left for a brief stint with Channel 9 news in D. C., where he still fills in on the assignment desk.
While summering on the beach though, he
recently sat inside a screened-in porch at the Sussex Street home he
shares with his
Swiping a lock of brown hair around his
changes the dials and reconfigures frequencies on his
army of listening devices.
pauses momentarily, hushing those around, to tune in a staticky voice describing a news event.
In front of him are multiple two-way radios and receivers that permit him to stay on top of Sussex County emergencies.
zeroed in on a radio interruption.
After an alert roused his
said, " That's my fire department pager that went off, they have a surf injury."
In southern Delaware, he
said, news events are often centered on car crashes, near drownings and parking violations, he
was offered a spot on WGMD talk radio.
is author of the Henney Report during the summer.
In the mid-1990s, Henney graduated from George Washington University with special honors to receive a journalism and information systems degree.
After interning at WUSA-TV, he
education, also at GW, to acquire a Master of Science degree in information systems.
Often the first news person on the scene of a crime or an emergency, Henney
can frequently be seen running through School Vue or down the Boardwalk wearing a fishing vest with multiple pockets, complete with a camera slung around his
" I love spot news, but I think of the hazards and it's volatile," said Henney
As for writing for a newspaper, he
said, " Sometimes you make assumptions which can be incorrect."
For that reason, Henney
alerts many news media of the event itself and lets others do the reporting.
The drawback of monitoring spot news, he
said, is that the observer cannot develop the story.
" With us, it's almost like a wireservice," he
Regarding which was his
biggest local story, Henney
said, " That's always a tough one.
Over Labor Day weekend, they had five cars towed," said Henney
, who listens in on two-way conversations.
"They go back-and-forth over the radio - such banter," he
"I've been real big about listening to parking spaces through the summer," he
On Stockley Street, said Henney
, there were nine different incidents.
certainly has an opinion about Rehoboth's density issue, covering local legislation is not at the top of his
Regarding local politics such a the recently passed FAR ordinance, Henney
, whose family owns a couple of old-style beach cottages in town, said, "They're saying we can't build McMansions, but the people with the deep pockets can afford them, and those with beach cottages don't have that option now."
For Henney excitement lies not so much in political conflict but rather in an issue's immediacy.
"You have a short window to get a photo of a drowning.
But the FAR issue, for instance, goes on for months," said Henney
also has an aversion to press releases and canned news, he
"One thing that really concerns me are press releases.
I think they're unhealthy," he
"The seagulls are sitting there squawking and the public relations people come out and throw them some press releases.
The seagulls fight over the press releases.
But, you have a few diligent birds, like the crows, that are digging through the cans and come across boxes of fries that are uneaten."
"News organizations are sitting around waiting around for handouts, like Thrasher's french fries, but digging in the can is harder," said Henney