As a kid growing up in North Florida watching television coverage of major news events like the Kennedy assassination, or the triumphs of our space program, I knew even before I was 10 years old, that delivering the news on television to people in your hometown is an important job. I get to live out that dream every day, with nearly 45 years in radio and television now.. half of that time here at WIBW-TV.
Already knowing I wanted to be a broadcasting major at the University of Florida, I spent five wonderful years at WRUF Radio during my college years, spinning records, running the board for the Florida Gator football games on Saturday, and hosting my first talk show on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The highlight of that time was receiving the station's top student honors from famed sportscaster Red Barber. Another highlight was talking with Soon-to-be President Jimmy Carter as one of my talk show guests for a full hour.
A radio station friend helped me land my first reporting job at WJXT in Jacksonville, where Steve Kroft ruled the roost as our investigate reporter, and the late Ben Bradlee would stop in for a visit. Moving further south to WESH in Orlando, I did some early film reports on the opening stage of our nation's Shuttle program at Cape Canaveral.
I tried my hand at anchoring the evening sports in Petersburg, Virginia, and even in radio, working on the first crew opening V-100 here in Topeka, and trying to learn how to be the basketball sidekick for Merle Blair when Jeff Stromgren starred for the Washburn Ichabods games. Boy, that was a while ago!
After that first trip to Topeka, I returned home to Gainesville, Florida, and my first official news anchoring job for WCJB-TV, the only commercial station in town back then. From there it was on to the Springfield/ Branson, Missouri area where I met my wife Sheila. She was one of my guests on their Live at Five interview show!
Returning to Topeka and settling in at WIBW since April of 1990, we now three wonderful grown children. Two of them, I'm proud to say, are native Kansans! They love hearing from their friends that "I grew up watching your dad on TV!"
In our social media age of reporting news in an instant, I still enjoy going back to the basics and helping our newer members who arrive at 13 News to begin their television careers. Melissa Brunner and I marvel at the technical wonders of high-definition television, Facebook, Twitter and the internet while sticking to our news principles of being fair, being right.. and sharing stories with you that captivate our viewers.