I’m now proud to be associated with an equally fine staff of people at Baron Services in Huntsville, where I’m a Regional Manager involved with marketing our newest desktop weather monitoring and storm tracking systems called Threat Net™ and Mobile Threat Net™ that are used by Public Safety agencies and other organizations and businesses, across America. Company President and CEO Bob Baron, was the Chief Meteorologist at WAAY-TV while I was News Director there. He jokes that I used to be his boss, and now he’s my boss…with a vengeance! As you probably know, Baron Services is also the leading manufacturer of Doppler radar Systems for TV stations in the U.S., like WAAY-TV.
What I’m doing in this picture is helping to decorate the 31 float for the WAAY-TV Christmas Parade. This annual ritual would take place over a few cold December nights in an unheated warehouse downtown. Hot pizza and coffee offset the chill. [un-huh, notice the bottles of beer in the background?] There were usually 20 or 30 people from the station, including some family members, who like Santa’s elves busily stuffed thousand of multi-colored tissue paper poms into a chicken wire frame stretched over a flat-bed trailer. Before we knew it that rusty trailer covered in chicken wire, was magically transformed into a holiday delight. At the same time many other people across the Tennessee Valley were doing the same thing, as they assembled their floats for the parade.
Many times the WAAY-TV float would be pulled by Jamie Cooper, who was the “Country Rover” feature reporter at the station. Riding on the float would be news anchors and other staff members and their kids. I recall the long hours folks like Bettie Higgins and Debi Bradford spent coordinating the thousand of details involved in making the parade with its scores of entries, the big success it always was. I remember they had to be especially sensitive to the placement of the many entries featuring horseback riders. Since the horses tended to drop little Christmas presents of their own along the route, the goal was to not bunch these entries together, or the non-horseback entries following behind would have literally become bogged down in a sea of “presents.”
There were also many serious times to remember. One of the most significant and devastating events in Huntsville’s history was the Tornado of November 15, 1989. I’ve attached a Huntsville Times article from November 17, 1989 that described how the local media responded to this event. It also points out that, thanks to the foresight of M.D. Smith, WAAY-TV was the only Huntsville station with a generator that allowed it to continue broadcasting while the other stations were dark. I recall how virtually everyone one of us at WAAY-TV worked virtually three days without sleep as we covered the rapidly unfolding events surrounding this story. We produced a two hour documentary, called “Tragedy, Turmoil and Triumph” that show highlights of that dramatic news coverage. We sold thousands of VHS copies of this program with proceeds going to the American Red Cross Disaster relief effort. I still have one of these original VHS copies. M.D. sent a note to the staff thanking everyone personally for their efforts and provided, as I recall, 50 silver dollars to everyone as a bonus.
My best wishes go out to each of you, and your families. I hope to see many of you at the reunion. I’d also like to say thanks to M.D. for pulling this all together.
Baron Services, Inc.
M.D., would you please add the following to my message on the web page?
I’m sorry, but a sudden change in plans has resulted in my needing to attend, a conference in Dallas, TX next week, on behalf of Baron Services, that will run though Sunday August 24. Therefore, I regrettably will not be able to attend the WAAY reunion. I’m sorry I will miss seeing you, but I know you will have fun. I will look forward to seeing the highlights on the reunion web site. Please keep in touch a firstname.lastname@example.org