Ask Me Anything–26 Years Ago Today!

Please get rid of Geoff Fox. In my opinion, he is boring, loud, too loquacious and gives us information, ad nauseum, that we don’t need. Let him watch Channels 3 and 30 to get an idea of good weather presentation.

I’m currently answering all your questions. Read more about it here.

I’ve got a comment from Tony. “It seems like I have been watching you on the weather and listening to your corny jokes forever. How long have you been at Channel 8, sorry, News 8, and how old where you when you started?”

Amazingly Tony it was 26 years ago today! I began at WTNH on May 21, 1984. I replaced (the spectacularly beautiful and wonderfully warm) Beverly Johnson who went to San Francisco and later died tragically.

I was 33 then. That means I am now… old. Luckily I’m immature for my age.

In 1984 I worked in weather with Linda Church and Bruce McFarland. Linda’s at Channel 11 in New York where they should kiss the ground she walks on. She is great on-the-air. I have no idea where Bruce went. He vanished. Nice guy.

I have been on-air at News 8 longer than anyone else there. I think I’m the all time record holder.

Tony, as nice as your email is, I also get stuff like this from time-to-time.

Please get rid of Geoff Fox. In my opinion, he is boring, loud, too loquacious and gives us information, ad nauseum, that we don’t need. Let him watch Channels 3 and 30 to get an idea of good weather presentation.

The guy sent the email directly to me! What a jerk. OK–idiot, not jerk. Whatever.

The truth is not everyone is going to like you. And if like me you’re “high concept talent” people will form an opinion.

This one’s from a longtime blog reader David. “Who among the personalities we might remember (on air) at Channel 8 did you consider to be close mentors when you first arrived?”

I’m not sure I had mentors as in someone to take me under their wing. I was already 33 and had been on-air in radio and TV for 15 years. My ‘act’ was pretty well formed.

I can tell you our short lived anchor John Lindsay was responsible for me stopping smoking!

Helaine had been bugging me to quit my pack and a half a day habit. Finally I said, “OK, I’ll try and cut back.”

Back then you could smoke in the station and many people did. We used old film cans as ashtrays!

John, Bob Picozzi and I sat on the set for a wide shot when the news began. As we waited I chatted with John and told him what I was doing about my smoking.

“That won’t work,” he said. I was puzzled. He proceeded to tell me how I’d be back to my normal consumption in a week or two.

“You’ve got to say I’ve already smoked my last cigarette.”

That made a lot of sense. When I walked into the condo that night I slammed my pack of Lucky Strike filters on the counter, turned to Helaine and said, “I quit.” She thought I was bailing from the marriage!

I have never smoked another cigarette. Helaine was incredibly supportive through the first few months. She even returned an unused carton to Stop and Shop!

They weren’t mentors, but Al Terzi and Diane Smith were probably the most career helpful to me. They understood my on-air style needed support from my co-anchors. Both of them, more than anyone else back then, listened to my every word and laughed whenever they thought I was telling a joke.

Seriously, Al and Diane’s laughter often sold a line I’d delivered. They made me funny. I never asked either to do that, but they understood viscerally.

I miss having both of them in my life on a daily basis.

I will tell you two people who tried to help my career during the 80s. One was Al Roker, then working at Channel 4. The other was Spencer Christian, then at Good Morning America. Both were gracious and selfless–truly class acts. I would crawl over broken glass for either.

On Dan Rather

Today was Dan Rather’s last day at CBS. He went out as damaged goods.

I never met him. We have no mutual friends. I don’t even want to comment on the ‘Bush papers’ that ultimately were his downfall.

It is interesting to note, no matter how far removed in time, I can’t think of Dan Rather without thinking of what happened to Walter Cronkite.

Most times, someone loses a job when someone else gets one. Beverly Johnson, a beautiful, very nice woman, was fired just before I was hired in Connecticut. Those decisions were made without my involvement. I always sensed it was different with Rather.

News coverage through the years implied, or sometimes outright said, he did not want Walter Cronkite to steal his thunder. When CBS gave him the job, keeping him from bolting, Cronkite’s fate was sealed. For Dan to be in, Walter would be out.

Today’s departure is about as close as life comes to full circle.

Blogger’s note – It’s possible over time I have goofed up this story, or remembered things that happened differently or perhaps didn’t happen at all. Corrections are always welcomed.