“How much longer can you do a crazy gig like this?” Marcus Collins, my WISH-TV photographer, asked. It was a subtle reference to both my age (44 at the time) and the nature of the job. In November of 1990, Channel 8 hired me to do live remotes between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. every weekday. Before that, I had hosted a morning talk show on Channel 13, live from Union Station.
“Geesh, who knows?” I remember saying to Marcus. “I really can’t see doing this after I’m 50.”
But soon I was 50, then 55. Then 60, 65 and 70. At 73 (after 4,890 shows), I picked up the remote control for my career this past March and clicked the pause button. With the pandemic, it was too risky to venture out, interacting with the public.
Last month, I picked up that career remote again, this time hitting the exit button. My mug had been on TV for 40-plus years. Enough is enough.
It’s weird to get up in the morning now and realize there is little to do on my to-do list. I already miss the action, finding something really cool that most people don’t know about, and creating a show around it. I loved discovering a novel place or event and deciding after arriving at the shoot how to turn it into four interesting segments. It usually involved interviewing people I had never met, many of whom had never been on TV. That was the challenge.
Before getting my big break at a TV station, I was a high school teacher and was sure that “performing” in front of 30 kids every day was my only real talent. What a stroke of great luck to find another outlet for my abilities. I would have made a lousy … well, made a lousy almost anything else.
WISH-TV has prepared “Goodbye” snippets that will air throughout the week and conclude with a half-hour special on at 6:30 p.m., July 31. It will include video clips and recorded well-wishes (I hope) from some of my colleagues. Any barbs will be well-deserved. Maybe Dave Barras and Randy Ollis will retell how they interacted from the anchor desk at the station to some of the wild remotes I did in the ’90s.
In my next couple of columns, I’ll recount some of my favorite stories, about Barney and Richard Simmons and Dick the Bruiser, and there will be some surprises — if not for you, for me. Who can remember that far back?
Thanks to everyone who has watched through the years. What a privilege it has been for me!