27 Years On-Air In Connecticut

Their partnership would later find its way to court, but back then they were amazing.

It’s entirely fitting that on this my 27th anniversary of being on-the-air in Connecticut I am not on-the-air. It’s been an upheaval year for me here in the land of steady habits.

May 21, 1984 when I began at WTNH Action News I worked with Al Terzi and Geri Harris. Bob Picozzi was our sports guy. I replaced the beautiful and gracious Beverly Johnson. Our two other weather people were Linda Church (at WPIX for a long time) and Bruce MacFarlane.

One day Bruce sort of disappeared and I’ve never heard from or of him again! Strange.

May I talk about Al? I loved working with Al. It can be argued he is the best known television personality in Connecticut.

He always listened to what I said and laughed when he thought I was trying to be funny–even when I failed. On TV that is the finest example of team player. I will always be grateful.

I remember that first September choppering up to the Big “E” with Al. We flew in this little bubble Engstrom cramped in with Al Notzel the pilot. As we walked into the grounds it was as if Al was a Deity. I have never seen more heads turn.

Geri on the other hand didn’t seem to get me. It felt like she disapproved of me every night on TV.

Later Al and Geri were moved off and John Lindsay and Janet Peckinpaugh were brought in. Lindsay never seemed to make the geographic commitment and soon returned to Colorado.

Al Terzi who had been demoted was paired with Janet Peckinpaugh. Their partnership would later find its way to court, but back then they were amazing.

Whatever “it” was Janet had plenty! She was the most glamorous anchor I’ve worked with. She was a real celeb. Viewers loved her. They couldn’t get enough.

My bosses were Mike Sechrist and Wendi Feinberg. I am still very close with both. I have thanked them dozens of times for this opportunity.

Helaine says I still have a lot of TV left in me. It’s good I’m not done yet.

Hurricane Gloria Video Surfaces

If you’re a longtime Connecticut resident you’ll remember Al Terzi anchoring with Janet Peckinpaugh, Diane Smith’s voice is there along with a waterlogged David Henry and some folks I just don’t recognize anymore.

My friend Ryan Hanrahan posted this video to his blog earlier tonight. I didn’t even know it was around. It’s from a special we did on WTNH after Hurricane Gloria.

If you’re a longtime Connecticut resident you’ll remember Al Terzi anchoring with Janet Peckinpaugh. Diane Smith’s voice is also there with a waterlogged David Henry and some folks I just don’t recognize anymore. And, of course, the Action News music!

It was 25 years ago. I look so young!

Janet For Congress?

Viewers loved Janet because she seemed vulnerable. Politics commands a thick skin. Can vulnerable and thick skin coexist? We’ll see.

The emails have trickled in over the last few days. Janet Peckinpaugh is thinking about running for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Joe Courtney. She’d be running for the Republican nomination against Daria Novak (who has appeared on this blog… and was a good sport about it).

I’d better throw in some back story, because as big as Janet was you might not know who she is!

Back in the 1980s the Connecticut television news race was divided this way: Channel 3, everyone else. In this case everyone else was mainly Channel 8. Channel 30 with much less reach as a difficult to tune in UHF station was specklike. Channel 61 wasn’t yet on-the-air.

The company that owned Channel 8 made a decision to get competitive. That was gutsy because WTNH was more profitable than WFSB! It had a smaller audience but also spent a lot less. The owner, Capital Cities Communications, moved their hotshot news director, Mike Sechrist, to New Haven from Fresno. Then they opened their wallet.

Not every move Mike made worked, but one was so successful it trumped everything else (next to hiring me, of course). He hired a young, sweet looking, Janet Peckinpaugh. I seem to remember her coming from Richmond, VA–but don’t hold me to that.

I can’t explain Janet’s success except to say she had that magical “it” that make some people on TV stand out. Actually, Janet didn’t have “it” as much as she had “IT!!!.” She was vulnerable and approachable. She was very pretty but not where women didn’t wanted their husband’s watching her.

With Janet (and a rejuvenated Al Terzi) our audience grew until we caught Channel 3 at 6:00 PM–an amazing achievement.

Helaine and I were friendly with Janet. She was always very nice to me on-the-air and off. We went to her spectacular wedding atop Hartford Steam Boiler Company. It was probably the most glamorous affair I’ve ever attended.

Then, for reasons still not clear to me, Janet left and the station wallowed. Think balloon and pin!

As is often the case in TV her earlier success did not follow her up I-91.

She was later involved in an ugly lawsuit and finally anchored at Channel 30. When last I saw her on-air she was the anchor on infomercials for a mortgage company.

Am I surprised she’s considering congress? Yeah. Not that I think about Janet often, but even if I did I’d never make this leap. OK, I haven’t known her for over twenty years. Everyone changes. Maybe a smoldering political fire has finally come to life?

Maybe there’s something in the DNA of people who do what we do? I have often thought about running for Congress. I have too much respect for my incumbent congresswoman to ever seriously consider that, but the thought’s there in the abstract&185.

We all have dirty laundry. Helaine reminds me of mine all the time. Imagine if your life was poked and prodded at by an opponent who wanted you gone! I’m not sure Janet’s so special in that regard, but maybe.

When Kevin Rennie blogged about this yesterday the mean comments weren’t far behind! Her unquestioned sweetness of the 80s is now questioned.

Viewers loved Janet because she seemed vulnerable. Politics commands a thick skin. Can vulnerable and thick skin coexist? We’ll see.

&#185 – After writing this entry a co-worker called me out for this paragraph. She said I made it sound like I could beat Rosa but won’t. I can see how that might be the impression. Let me clarify.

Rosa DeLauro is unbeatable in this district. Right now you would have to be a fool or extreme doctrinaire to run against her. There’s a reason few who want to serve in Congress do. There are people like Rosa already there.

To me that’s OK because I like Rosa.

God, I hope that’s more clear now.

Another Day With The Dumpster

When I came home from work Thursday night, I noticed Helaine had (as usual) taken the trash to the curb for pickup.

When Steffie was in school we put out three cans a week. Now, it’s usually two. This week – one!

I’m sure going to miss the dumpster when it leaves us – probably Monday morning.

Astoundingly, the dumpster has become a status symbol. Helaine tells me she’s spread the word to some friends, all of whom expressed envy and one of whom has already rented one of her own!

Only 22 feet long? Poseur!

Today, as I was carrying out another load from the attic, I noticed our next door neighbor Margie standing at the dumpster’s door. She was on her cellphone, but looking at the dumpster.

It’s OK. Earlier we told her to take advantage. We’ll never fill it alone.

I lifted the long rod connected to the safety latch and pushed the door open. She looked in and gave me an approving smile.

The unfinished portion of our basement is the most astounding part of this epic saga. It’s as if an extra 50% was added to its capacity. Walls, which had been growing in toward the center, are now back where they belong.

Every year, when our oil company sends someone to clean and adjust our furnace, I apologize for the condition of the basement. No more. We now have a model basement. He can bring a camera next time!

Next, I took another swipe at the attic. There’s stuff you just can’t throw out. It’s stuff I’ll never use and haven’t touched for years. It is, in essence, sacred to me.

When does one get the intestinal fortitude to heave it all? How long after it’s gone before it’s needed?

Even with dumper’s remorse, I made a bunch of trips to the dumpster. As layers peeled away, I unearthed some more interesting finds.

There’s a photo of Helaine and me, taken at a charity pajama party in Buffalo, circa 1983. I was sitting with a cigarette in my fingers.

Ugh! I quit smoking late in 1984 and never looked back. Best move I ever made.

Another photo, an oversize publicity photo from work here in Connecticut, shows me with our news anchors, John Lindsay and Janet Peckinpaugh and our sports director, Bob Picozzi. They’re all long gone and I’m totally out-of-touch with them, though I heard Bob calling a college basketball game last night.

Is there more to be found? Tomorrow I attack my office.

Who would have though a dumpster would fill up so much blog space?