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.

Summer’s Day Live Shot

From my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley comes this 24-year old aircheck.

From my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley comes this 24-year old aircheck. Our anchors were Janet Peckinpaugh and John Lindsay.

I was soooo young then. I miss that.

I Used To Smoke Cigarettes

I smoked for 18 years and permanently quit the first time I tried. I didn’t even want to quit. I’m not trying to show off. That’s just how it happened for me.

I stopped for gas in East Haven. I was on my way to work from getting a haircut. Francine is the Queen of Hair, though if I didn’t stop her, she would play with each individual strand until it was perfect.

Anyway… I stopped for gas and there was a large sign in the parking lot. A sale on cigarettes – $5.20 a pack. Holy crap.

It’s been a long time since I smoked, but I do remember some benchmarks.

When I began to smoke, probably early 1969, a single pack in a vending machine was 40&#162. I was astounded in finding a vending machine at the WHDH-TV studios in Boston that sold them for 35&#162.

Driving to Florida in 1970, I stopped in North Carolina and bought a few cartons for under $3 a piece. Gasoline was probably 34.9&#162/gallon back then.

I smoked a pack and a half a day when I quit. Let’s see… $5 per pack is $50 per week or $2,500 a year. That’s crazy.

I have been told quitting cigarettes is incredibly difficult. I smoked for 18 years and permanently quit the first time I tried. And I didn’t even want to quit. I’m not trying to show off. That’s just how it happened for me.

It was pre-Stef, and Helaine was getting very upset, telling me how I was going to die and we’d have a child to think about. My people are good with guilt.

My first attempt at quitting was was to just cut back, which I did successfully for one day.

11:00 PM rolled around and I was sitting on the news set with our sports anchor, Bob Picozzi and our anchor, John Lindsay&#185. The news began with a single wide shot. Bob and I were ‘set parsley.’

Proudly, I told John I had cut down to only eight for the entire day. And he said, “You can’t do that. After a few days you’ll start ramping up. You’ve got to say, I quit now. I’ve already smoked my last cigarette”

As if in some Hollywood movie, the newscast’s theme music swelled, John turned to the camera and began to read. I sat and pondered.

That night, I came home to our condo in Branford. Helaine was in the kitchen. I took my pack of cigarettes, banged it on the table and said, “I quit.”

She had no clue what I was talking about. I explained.

For the next few months, there were carrots and celery and something to keep me busy. Helaine was amazingly supportive. Neighbors of ours, he a young physician at Yale/New Haven, prescribed Nicorette (back then, by prescription only).

Within a week or two, I notice my sense of smell had improved. The next cold I had made a much quicker passage through my system.

I’m sure there has been some damage done by all the smokes. I hope it’s not too much.

I’ve never missed my cigarettes. I never had a desire to return. I can’t understand why anyone starts now, if for no other reason than the expense.

$5.20 a pack. That’s a sale? They’re kidding, right?

&#185 – John Lindsay was on my mind yesterday. He had one of the briefest stays of the myriad anchors I’ve worked with. He also had a small part as a TV anchorman in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was on TV yesterday.

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?