Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It's more than St. Patrick's Day.

Even though I'm occasionally ribbed for noting too many anniversaries in this space, I'm going to talk about one today.  Too bad.  Deal with it.

I began my first television job twenty years ago today.

It was down the road at WYOU, a place that bears no resemblance to the WYOU of today, and that's just sad.  The station started something new back then, thirty second news updates every hour, around the clock, even on weekends.

My job was to do those news snippets Saturdays, from 6 AM to 2 PM.  Much of that was cartoon time, so I had to be careful not to report anything that would upset the kids.  It wasn't the greatest job in the world, but it was a foot in the door, and I was thrilled to have it.

I remember being so terrified that first morning that I forgot to wear a microphone for the initial update.   A young woman named Margaret was weekend assignment editor back then, a peach of a human being.  I appreciated her calming influence.  She became a good friend, and I enjoyed working with her.  Margaret eventually exited in favor of motherhood.  Great for her family.  Bad for the news biz.

Jim DePury was my first TV news director.  We still keep in touch.  I was lucky to work for him-- more than a good boss.  He's a good friend.  When I lost my WYOU job in an economic cut back in 1996, I think I called Jim first.  I would up freelancing for Jim in Harrisburg, at FOX 43, even before my chair at WYOU got cold.

There was a really good weekend crew in 1990.  Penny Lindgren was the reporter.  She's back home in the Chicago area.  Michael Gargiulo was anchor.  Michael is now the morning anchor at WNBC in New York.  Scott Connell was meteorologist.  He moved on to Saint Louis and KSDK.  Chuck Howard was weekend sports anchor.  Chuck went to Buffalo, and then Charlotte.  I can't forget about weekend photographer John Shema, now a member of the Newswatch 16 team.  It was a solid bunch, and I benefitted from exposure to them.  Going to work was fun.

There is a lesson here.  I recalled something Joan Lunden said when she looked back on her early years at "Good Morning America."   David Hartman wouldn't allow her to do much.  Lunden said she took whatever tiny bits they gave her, and did them the best she could.  Things would eventually take care of themselves.

The Lunden theory worked.  I took my little updates seriously.  A few months later, WYOU offered me a full time job.  I was still happy with my full time radio gig, so I turned it down.  The station came back with another offer, when a slot opened up in September of 1991, and I didn't say "no" a second time.  

There have been more than a few bumps in the road and mistakes along the way.  Clearly, there are some things I would have done differently.  I'm just glad to have had the opportunity.