Tuesday, June 5

Getting a Kick(er) Out of Grimsby

I’ve posted before about WABC uber-anchor Roger Grimsby. Did I mention that he was a masterful writer?

Don’t know where he got it, but somehow over the years he seemed to have been granted carte blanche to write five or six segment “kickers” to end various blocks in the 6:00 o’clock news hour. No editing. No veto. For years Roger did an ABC Radio Network newscast each afternoon so he’d have an excuse to sit down and scan the wires looking for three or four stories that caught his fancy.

Of course the best was saved for last: the final spot in the final block at 6:00. Grimsby would come up on camera, and if he had that certain twinkle in his eye news director Cliff Abromats would groan, “Oh, no. Please Roger. Don’t do this to me. I’ve got a wife and a mortgage. I need this job. Please don’t do this to me.”

I committed to memory—more-or-less—one of my favorites. It went pretty much like this:

“Finally tonight, from Kansas City, the story of Ricky Smith, who wants to be known as Raquel. And to that end he is halfway through a series of sex-change operations which will turn him into a her. But police say he/she has been financing his/her re-gendering by sticking up liquor stores. They caught him/her last night, and now they’ve got a problem: do they throw HIM in the mens’ cells or HER in the womens’ cells?


“Either way, it’s too early for a halfway house.

“Hoping your news is good news, I’m Roger Grimsby.”

Bill Beutel chuckles, the studio camera bobs and weaves while the cameraman tries to stifle his laughter, and Cliff Abromats turns and says, “I guess it could have been worse.”