My Pat Trinkley Story: Weekends at TV2 Buffalo

“When you called my name on the air,” he began, “my mother heard it.”

Uh oh. This isn’t good.

At WGR (and then WGRZ), TV2 in Buffalo, I worked with a guy named Pat Trinkley. Pat was our weekend director. He was young and, as I remember a pretty good director.

Unfortunately it was the weekend!

In television… and most everything… weekends aren’t staffed as weekdays are. The crew was inexperienced and overwhelmed. Weather was when they regrouped.

For a director and crew weather is the easiest part of the newscast. The camera is stationary. The meteorologist or weathercaster is running his own graphics. You can almost sit back and let it happen.

In Buffalo Pat only had one cue to hear during my ‘cast.

After working a map I turned to the camera and said, “Let’s look at the current conditions.”

Pat was supposed to hit a button and switch from my weather graphics to a character generator which produced the “Currents” page.


I vamped a few seconds and then, again, called for “current conditions at Buffalo International.”

I was new at weather. I could ad lib, but I’d ridden into a box canyon. Once you’ve finished your narrative and called for the conditions you’re stuck.

I tried once more then having received no response took two steps forward and squarely faced the camera. I probably stooped just a little which I do when I make a close approach to the lens.

“Pat! I’m talking to you. May I have the currents?”

It was awkward. What options were there? It worked.

I was upset.

I was already stockpiling airchecks hoping to spring myself to a larger market. This tape wouldn’t make the cut and that was what had me the most ticked. Opportunity lost.

I steamed out to the parking lot, got in my car and drove home for dinner. A few hours later I was back for the eleven. The six o’clock broadcast was behind me now.

I was in the weather area when Pat walked in my direction. Now I was worried. I’d called him out on-the-air. Maybe he was angry with me?

“When you called my name on the air,” he began, “my mother heard it.”

Uh oh. This isn’t good.

“She really liked that!” And with that he smiled.

I mentioned his name when I could. He never missed a cue again.

Anything’s possible

Late last week, my friend Harold told me he was taking this week off and that if I took a day off, we’d go to “The City” (Since I was a little child “The City” meant Manhattan which was treated differently than other parts of New York City).

Fine. I asked for, and received, Tuesday off.

But, what to do in The City? We talked about The Lower East Side (I am a knockoff watch whore and am looking for a new faux Breitling), getting tickets at TKTS and seeing a Broadway show, the Ansel Adams exhibit at MOMA and going to see David Letterman.

I have been a Letterman fan since the first time I saw him on The Tonight Show. When his late show began on NBC, I got on my knees and begged our program director at WGRZ in Buffalo to run it (which she eventually did).

Click to see the inscription from Dave

Around 20 years ago, Helaine and I went and saw a taping at 30 Rock. A friend who worked at NBC at the time got us into the studio early, where we shmoozed with Biff Henderson.

Letterman came out before the show and walked into the audience, looking for questions. Being right in front, we were tough to avoid. He called on Helaine and then answered her question, “What kind of makeup do you wear? My fiancee is on TV and his doesn’t look as good.”

When the show started, he made reference to the question and asked me what station I was on. Andrea Martin was on the show, but I don’t remember much more.

Of course, Letterman tickets are tough to come by, especially in the summer when his target audience is … at will, so to speak. So, I emailed my friend Mel at CBS. “They hate us,” he replied, making no bones about the Letterman staff’s relationship with the rest of CBS.

Next, an email to Aaron Barnhart at the Kansas City Star and Aaron has been a Letterman fan forever, and I figured he was connected. Anyway, I had just done a favor for him, so he was into me.

No pull.

But, Aaron suggested I go to the CBS website and put myself on the standby list. What the hell? It was late, the dog was chowing down, I had nothing better to do.

This afternoon the message appeared on my cellphone. Mitch at Late Night was calling, telling me they had a cancellation and I was invited. Assured seats, no standby. How cool is this?

All I had to do was answer a trivia question to establish my Letterman bonafides. First, how often did I watch? I told him 2-3 times a week (any more and too much Dave starts sneaking into my performance). My question, “Who is Alan Kalter?”

Damn! Alex, I’ll take staff announcers for $500.

So, Harold arrives at 10:00am. We”ll drive to Stamford and catch Metro North to Grand Central. And, we’re going to see Letterman.