Saturday, August 21

Who, What, When, Where, Why & How

New here? What can I say? It's been an interesting life. Note I didn't say successful (I'm not the best judge of that), I said interesting.
Forty years in television news, in markets as large as New York City and as small as Peoria. Some in "the business" will be able to guess my identity. For the rest: hey, it's about the story, not the story-teller.
What strikes me is that in living my "interesting" life I've rubbed up against a lot of...well...uh…interesting people and events. But it's always been as a bystander. Yes, greatness has brushed by me...while I was looking the other way. Had I been standing next to Abraham Zapruder in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, I'd have been bent over tying my shoes when the Kennedy motorcade passed by. I'd have heard a loud noise (or two...or three?...or more???) and said, "Hey, what was that?" Then I would have wandered off in search of a chili dog. It's been a Forrest Gump-like life.
Oh, well. In the weeks and months ahead I'll share some of my "Remember When" stories. Over the years, people have said, "You oughta write a book." This is as close as I'm going to get. React...or don't. Post...or don't. Believe it...or not.
One final thought before we start. To read these mini-memoirs in the order in which they were written you have to scroll down to the bottom and read up. Backwards. Like my life! But some of them are date-specific, pegged to events at the time they were posted, and they come closest to making sense if you go with the flow. Hmmmmm, life too?


OK, so I'm back! 
It's just that I'm having too much fun not to share it with you.

Yeah, I'm still in a money hole. I've been working the figures, and it looks like if I plan on living to 100 I'll have to work until I'm 101. Income pretty much equals outgo. Hey, have you tried the new All-Ramen-Noodle-All-The-Time diet. Yummy! And filling! 

You know, maybe I favor socialism after all!!!

But every weekday, for a few hours a day, I get to go hang out at WBOC-TV. What a treat! And what a station. I won't continue bragging about the place: you can see for yourself. Catch a newscast live at the web site, You'll be impressed.

And here's the best part. I get to do news again! Those of you who've sat in the ND's chair know what I'm talking about. It's something I was told when I left KDKA in Pittsburgh for my first news director's job 35 years ago. Larry Manne, the KDKA news director, told me: "Get it out of your head that you're going to be a newsman anymore. You're a businessman. The only reason you're going to know more about the news than that guy walking by on the street is that your business office happens to be three feet from a working newsroom."

For years and years I tried to prove him wrong: over the years with less and less success. As time went on I learned accounting, human relations, labor relations, conflict resolution, and on, and on, and on.

WBOC News Director John Dearing hired me to work with and coach the producers and reporters. Having taught broadcast news writing at three universities, I think I'm up to the task.

John also uses me as a sounding board and problem-solver. While not a manager by any stretch of the imagination, I often get to sit in when he and the news brass have planning sessions. I guess he realizes I've made just about every mistake there is to make, and by listening to me he'll know what to avoid!

But the best time--the time I've missed the most for too many years--is being out in the newsroom writing, approving scripts, answering questions, giving advice. I don't have an office. I sit out amongst 'em. And they're all kids! They're wonderful to work with, but they're kids! WBOC, as terrific a station as it is, is still in market one-forty-something. Good young journalists come here, invest as year or two or three, and then it's onward and upward. We're losing a producer next week to New Haven: with her WBOC background, she'll make it!

But when they walk through the door here they're probably just out of college and guaranteed to be green as grass.
Kids know who Lady Gaga is: but everyone in the place was clueless about Mitch Miller when he  passed away a few weeks back.

I have to watch my step, though. If you know me, you know I'm always fighting the temptation to "bigfoot" people--to shove them aside and force my way (the one and only right way, dontcha see?) on them. I've got to ask more questions so that they can find the answers for themselves.

Is it fair to say that I'm learning how to teach again?

Still, it can be amusing working with people born in the late 80s.

Here's my favorite, so far.

When the strawberry season opened a few weeks back, we sent a reporter (a one-man band: welcome to the 21st century, Stueber) to the biggest strawberry grower around, in Marion Station, Maryland. 

When I moseyed in, I noticed the story had been slugged "Marion's Berries." I chuckled. And when I got a chance I went to the reporter and told her how cute I thought it was that she'd named her story "Marion's Berries."


"Well, because of the wordplay on the name 'Marion Barry', of course."

"There's someone named Marion Barry?"


Sheesh! I hope they don't find Jimmy Hoffa's body any time soon. We've got a couple of news managers who'll know the name, and a couple of anchors. And me. The rest? Kids!