Monday, April 30

Daddy Dearest

I’m surprised—and a bit embarrassed—to find, as I write these entries, how much space Keith McKinney still occupies in my mind and my life. You’d think I’d be over him after 30+ years, but apparently I’m not.

In my defense: did the crew of the “U.S.S. Caine” get over Captain Queeg? Did the crew of “HMS Bounty” get over Captain Bligh? Did Woodward and Bernstein get over Nixon? The man who gave me my first news director’s job still looms large in my life.

Anyone out there remember the “ascertainment” process? Too complicated to explain here, but it involved a series of one-on-one, not-for-broadcast interviews with community leaders to determine ("ascertain") what they considered to be pressing community problems. And it led WSPD-TV, headquartered then in downtown Toledo, to take several top-floor rooms in the (now closed) Commodore Perry Motor Inn around the corner for a day-long series of interviews. Big old hotel—maybe 12 or 13 stories high. At our first break Keith and I get on the elevator on the top floor, headed down past the mezzanine to the lobby. Five or six people in the car.

Two or three floors down the doors open and in steps a man about my age (late 20s). Doors close. We ride. We stop. We pick up some people. We drop off some people. Doors open. Doors close. No one says anything. Finally we get to the Mezzanine level and the man starts to get off.

McKinney says, loudly, “GET A HAIRCUT!” The man (whose hair wasn’t that long) never breaks stride, never turns, never acknowledges McKinney’s presence in any way.

Doors close, and as we ride down to the lobby Keith, staring straight ahead, says, “That was my son.” It was my turn to stare straight ahead in silence.

I don’t recall hearing the word "dysfunctional” until later in life, but I knew what it meant in 1975.

I don’t make a habit out of it, mind you, but often when I hear of a hostage taking, or a barricaded gunman, or a sniper attack, or a bombing in the Toledo area I check to see if the perp is named “McKinney” and if he’s about my age.

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