I guess the thing that I will never forget were the vast amount of talent people both in front of, and behind the scenes at WAAY-TV. Having left New York City to come back home in 1988, it was hard for me to believe I would find harder working, more talented people at WAAY than I had at network. But I did!
I was honored -and I mean that- to work alongside my fellow anchors including Heather Burns, Liz Hurley, Don Phelps, Gary Dobbs, Bob Baron, Linda Allen and Old Adrian Gibson. Cliff Hill and Dave Hargrove were great during the 5pm show, as well. This state will never again assemble that kind of talent at one station.
My sports staff, then, as well as looking back some years later, was the most talented group of people I have ever worked with in any market. Matt Neal (our stellar sports executive producer), Jeff Speegle (our 10pm anchor/reporter), Scott Boice (who served in that capacity before Speegs) Brian King and Butch (our shooters) David Lamb (weekend anchor) -now working as primary news anchor at CBS42 in BHam and Mark Marcus (our weekend anchor and feature reporter) -whatever happened to him? Is he working in the area? I also thought Chris Peace did a good job with a fresh approach to morning sports. We even blazed new trails in the market with the first female sports anchor with Kim Ponis, and had Gus Johnson in for a cup of coffee before he finally made his way to CBS Sports.
The sports production crew headed by Chris Homsley was simply astounding. Remote Engineering, headed by the always-excitable Donny Seymour, were just as stunning. It only took 2 or 3 rounds of boxing before each of our 250 remote sports programs, but they always got their way.
As a station, staff and division, we were the first (and only) to earn a SPORTS EMMY in Huntsville for a little show we called FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. It included folks like Al Whitaker and Alicia Smith in our bureaus (Have any good pizza since I've been gone?). We bagged over 35 Associated Press awards, including 7 of them when we were competing against the entire state. And I guess we won 50 or so Press Club awards to go with the others.
I miss working with Dorothy White and Mark McGee who helped make it work from the news side. I guess Dot worked more for us during football season than she did for Mark. I talk with Dot regularly (she is out of news and is the Public Information Officer for the City of Garland, Texas (pop. 300k) but don't know what's happened to Mark in Columbus?
And the talent wasn't limited to those with face-time. Redge and the sales staff worked hard spending the money we made them (yes I know - kiss mine!). Pat Spurrier was my favorite, Melody Rice always ran very gracious interference with MDS and Cactus just gave me increasingly large loads of cow manure. (I miss the smell of cow manure in turn one at Talladega on a Friday night)
Boss, thanks for staying out of the WAAY. Rarely did you say no, and I usually did it anyway. You had the correct instincts to be a great local TV owner and hire all of those talented people I've listed. Now let's hire them all back and go about the task of kicking the other two stations right in the ass!