Monday, September 22

The Largest

I’ve got another “booth announcer” story. If you know me you’ll get the punch line. I’ll try to keep it short for the rest of you.

Forty years ago next month, while still attending Michigan State, I went to work part-time for WOOD AM-FM-TV in Grand Rapids as a weekend news writer/producer. When I graduated in June of ’69 I went to work there full-time. It was an incredible stroke of good luck.

News Director Dick Cheverton (I’ve written about him here before, in “Man and Mentor” on April 12th of last year) had built a pioneering broadcast news operation at Channel 8. So good, so dominant, that in 1968 he started Michigan’s first (and for many years only) hour-long television newscast. I’ve also written here before that I produced America’s highest-rated news broadcasts while working for “Chev.” Heady times.

We were justifiably proud of our status, and it showed in our news open—read every night, live, by the booth announcer: “Compiled by the largest television news staff in Western Michigan, this is TV-8 News.”

But in 1974 it was time to move on. I accepted a job producing the 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. newscasts for WWJ-TV in Detroit. And on my final night, booth announcer Ed Kemp somberly intoned: “Compiled by the largest television newsman in Western Michigan…”

If you know me, you get the joke.