There were many edits and re-writes of my book before it was published. This chapter was completely eliminated from the book at the strong suggestion of the editors. I incorporated some of the material into other chapters, but in hind site, looking back, the people I worked with in my last job really deserves the original separate chapter, so here is the lost chapter of the people I worked with at channel 10 in Phoenix.
...and by the way, my book is available for purchase of that very special Christmas Gift at: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Wasnt-Perfect-Television-Broadcasting-ebook/dp/B01N5OEXLT
Lost Chapter: Chapter 38 The People
and Alexis begins to giggle. “Oh no!” I thought, “this can go downhill really fast.” The giggle turns into a laugh, then laughter, with tears, she just couldn’t stop.
The talent I had the honor of working with were just outstanding and just wonderful!
Here are some of the people who stand out over my thirty years in Phoenix.
Pope John Paul II was visiting Phoenix in 1987, my first year at Channel 10. We covered just about every second of it. The entire news staff was on duty. My job: do the weather. The producer cued me from the booth, “You’re next, do about 3 minutes.” I’m in place and just seconds before the weather intro rolls, the producer says the Pope is about to speak. Dave Patterson and Debra Pyburn announce, “lets go live now to Pope John Paul the second.” They killed my weather, so I turn off my mike and walk into the lunch room. Rolland Smith, CBS News Anchor was there covering the event for CBS, looks at me with a big smile on his face. It’s an historical event in your career Rick.” “What’s that?” I asked. “You’ve just been pre-empted by the Pope!” Rolland Smith brought home the point that what we do is insignificant compared to people in our world who are truly making a difference. I liked him.
Dave Patterson was an extremely articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable News Anchor whose talent and intelligence far exceeded the needs of Television News. He was one of my idols in Cleveland, Ohio when I was starting my career and I always thought it was an honor to work with him. I co-anchored election night coverage with him one year and it was a highlight.
Bill Close was a legend in Phoenix Television News. By the time I arrived at channel 10, he was demoted from News Director to main anchor and then Anchor of the Noon and 6PM news. During Bill’s management days, he was an extremely hard driving, no nonsense boss. My days with him were just wonderful. He was a grammarian, he insisted you speak in perfect English. And you had to show him you weren’t intimidated by him.
One day during a break in the 6PM news, he told me about his grapefruit trees in his yard around his house. I asked him, “Where are you at?” He replied, “You just ended a sentence with a preposition!” He had that gruff, look on his face. I said, “I’m sorry, where are you at – ass hole!” He looked at me with a horrible mean look on his face, and then burst out laughing, he liked me, I liked him.
I mentioned earlier in this book about the wonderfully funny people I’ve worked with in my career, well Dave Munsey is right up there at the top of being one of the funniest people on TV. Dave has been the number one weather guy on Channel 10 for years and years. In my time in the weather office working with him, we would just sit there and laugh and laugh and laugh. “When I was about 9 years old,” he told me, “I told my father I needed a new pair of shoes”, he said , “no son, what you need is 12 dollars!” He had stories like this every day, sometimes it seemed every hour. After leaving weather, he would come into my office at around 3pm and just tell one joke after another. In my last years at channel 10, doing the morning show, there were times when I was leaving late and he was arriving early, I would see him in the parking lot, and we would stand there for hours, laughing, one joke after another. What a wonderful, funny guy, everyone just loves him.
I anchored the Noon and 5pm news with Claren Scott for a long time. Our 5 O’clock news was number one, and it led the nation in delivering one of the largest audience shares to the CBS Evening News. Claren was bright, beautiful, and oh so much the consummate journalist.
Susan Taylor and I anchored for a while on the Noon News, and she was a crack-up. There were times after the show, she would grab me and throw me down on the set behind the anchor desk, falling to the floor yelling “Lets leg wrestle!”
Also, many times, there were guests on our noon news who were promoting a charity. And she would say on the air, “Well Rick and I would love to contribute to your charity!” I was in shock!
My time with Linda Williams was always too short, we anchored a short version of a morning show for a while, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I love her. Ruth always used to say, “if anything happens to me, I’m sure you would love to marry Linda.” She’s a wonderful, beautiful and kind hearted person.
Linda is one of the outstanding reporters and anchors at channel 10, and every day when I saw her in the newsroom, I would just feel a sense of joy, just to talk to her.
And, of course, my friends on the morning show.
Truly, it’s the producers who make the show! They are the hardest working people in the newsroom, and are the true journalists who write the show, schedule the guests, assemble the segments and make sure everything gets on and off on time. They deserve much more credit and, I might add, much more pay then they get.
Producer Jenn Doan is the most remarkable person behind the scenes. She produced the 8 AM and 9AM hours, and she is the hardest working person I’ve ever met in Broadcasting. Jenn, as a baby, was one of the original Viet Nam Boat People, part of the mass exodus of the Vietnamese to other lands at the end of the Viet Nam War. Her family found their way to Oklahoma. She attended the University of Oklahoma, and ultimately became an Associate Producer at Channel 10. She has the most amazing work ethic. She worked so hard, she was promoted to Producer of the 8 and 9 am hours and is outstanding! I have watched her set up a show, run the cables, set up the equipment, write the show, monitor the show while it’s on the air, and comfort us when things go wrong. She is just amazing. I just love her and couldn’t have worked without her.
The one person who tried to hold the show together and keep it focused was our Executive Producer Mary Morse Vasquez. It was a tough job and she excelled at it, although at times we had some difficulty communicating when all hell was breaking loose, but always afterwards when it all calmed down after the show we would laugh and say we will try it again tomorrow!
And the one man who was in charge, the Vice President of News, Doug Bannard. I mentioned him in an earlier chapter. He had such a talent of choosing just the right people to work with, and it resulted in a loving group of people who were family. I know I must have given him and Mary a lot of headaches, and I’m so thankful they were so proffessioal in handaling such a hot headed anchor –me !
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the producers who envied the talent and secretly yearned to be on the air. They took the producer job because it was easy money and perhaps they didn’t have to leave home and make the sacrifice.
“You have to do today, what most people won’t do, so you can have tomorrow what most people can’t have!” Motivational Speaker Zig Zigler said that, and I’ll never forget it. It is these very same words which I spoke to young producers and interns, just starting out, who wanted to be on the air. Some of them did chuck their jobs at Channel 10 and left for their adventures in small towns across the country to become talent.
People ask me all the time, “How come you’ve had so many female anchors come and go on your morning show?”
Most of them have been young career women on their way up. They do their job, work out their contract and leave for better opportunities, while Ron, Cory and I settled down to raise a family. There had been 5 female anchors in the 15 years Fox-10 Arizona Morning while I was there! Most of them left for greener pastures.
Kathleen Bade was our first. She was sweet and very sensitive. Perhaps too sensitive for the uncertainness of a live, anything can happen morning show. She left for San Diego.
Illona Carson looked so much like a movie star, just beautiful and stunning. Off camera she was just like one of the guys. Just perfect, and oh so bright, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She was one of the few female anchors who was just kind and wonderful to everybody on staff, and it was a devastating loss when she left. She’s married now with three children and anchoring in Houston for ABC. We keep in touch and have lunch when she comes to town.
Jenn Burgess was hired from a little station in Flagstaff. I liked her so much and constantly worried about her, because she was so insecure. She was so innocent and totally unaware of how devious our business can be. I cared about her so much and tried to help her to succeed, but unfortunately she had to leave. She went on to another station in town and then went on to other things. Last I heard, she’s married and living happily ever after.
Alexis DelChiaro, well I have to say, she just lit up the TV screen and any room she happened to be in! Alexis had a wonderful wedding to a major league baseball player, and the marriage came apart in less than a year. We all stood by her and supported her and she recovered to become a shining star both on camera and off.
Everyone loved Alexis because she’s so beautiful and funny and has this most amazing smile. There were so many good times with her, I could never begin to list them all. She electrified the staff, and made everyone happy. She created “The Friday Morning Dance Break!” She is, however, a perfectionist and an organizer. Not a good thing if you work on our morning show. Anytime anything went wrong Alexis would declare, “There’s a flaw in the system!”
If Alexis found something to be funny, there was no stopping her laughing. On the air or off, she would laugh uncontrollably, and nothing we could do would change her composure! There were times when she would laugh for 10 minutes or more, with tears streaming from her eyes.
One morning, the disorganization got to be too much, and together we’re on the air and Alexis begins to giggle. “Oh no!” I thought, “this can go downhill really fast.” The giggle turns into a laugh, then laughter, with tears, she just couldn’t stop. We’re on the air and the boss runs into the studio in shock! Does this remind you of my early days of radio?
Alexis moved on to San Diego and then to LA, and then to Sacramento and then to her real number one desire in life, a good marriage and motherhood. We keep in close touch, and my granddaughter loves her! And so do I!
Kristin Anderson. Some people have a God gift of talent so warm and genuine it blows you away, that’s Kristin It took a few weeks for me to warm up to her because she’s so different – different in a good sense. Then, I figured out why I liked her so much. She’s an electrifying, beautiful, extremely happy, outrageous personality, who was just a joy to work with. She’s like me, kind of crazy and outspoken! We’ve had many conversations about management not getting us. She has the presence of a morning show personality you would see in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago or on a national show. And, guess what that’s where she is now, one of the hosts of Hallmark channel’s “Home and Family!” Living in L.A. and is awesome!
Syleste Rodriguez is such a joy. When she joined our show late in my career at channel 10, I thought she was a little crazy! If we were talking on the air say about traffic on a freeway, she would bud in and say she has GE appliances! So off the wall and so funny. If anyone has a smile that can warm the hardest of hearts, or just light up a room, it is Syleste. I came to know her well, and miss her.
Andrea Robinson, well Andrea was my work wife. She is just an angel. I love Andrea,(in a non romantic way, of course!) She suffered a devastating personal incident when her mother died at an early age of Parkinson’s disease. Yet she came to work every day with a smile on her face and always, always was bright and happy and positive and just gracious. I think the world of her and I felt the most comfortable sitting next to her doing our show.
Andrea’s career story is unique. She was an intern working in the promotion department about to graduate from ASU, one day I asked her what she wanted to do in our business and she said, “I don’t want to be on the air!” But here’s the thing, she was bright, beautiful and very articulate. When a traffic reporter job opened up, I encouraged her to apply. Ron Hoon and I worked with her to make a tape, and we hand-carried it to the News Director. He hired her part-time. During her traffic reports, I kidded her about her hair or whatever, and at first she took offense to it, but later she realized what was happening, we were building a rapport, and well, as they say the rest is history.
I just couldn’t believe how she is so talented and I was always in awe when we’re interviewing someone how she seemed to ask just the right questions and we seemed to think alike together, as she most often completed my thoughts when we were talking on the air! We were a team, and the ratings with her just skyrocketed! I just think the world of her, and when I arrived in the newsroom in the morning, just to see her smile made my day.
Now the guys. Ron Hoon is a consummate journalist and historian. When he came on our show I quickly realized he was just what we needed to add credibility to what we do. I know he’ll get the biggest kick out of that statement, but it’s true. He’s the best at what he does. (Although, come on, those ties! They’re terrible!)
Cory McCloskey is a genius. I have never, in all my 50 years plus of working in broadcasting, have met or worked with anyone more entertaining. And looking back at all the places and stations and people I’ve worked with that says a lot. Cory just lights up the show. Everyone I meet just can’t say enough good things about him and how much they love him. Here’s a typical comment I received on Face Book one day: “OMG...would you tell Cory...I absolutely love him...! I turned on the TV this morning..and in a split second he had me choking on my coffee laughing..when he fell on the floor looking up at the stadium ceiling...! You guys are very lucky working with such a character...would you tell Cory...I absolutely love him...! Our morning show was so lucky to have him.
As far as our reporters were so amazing! Diane Ryan, Alexis Vance, Liz Kotalik, who I just barely got to know, Courtney Griffin, who is such a nice person and Anita Roman are the best you’ll find anywhere on morning television. I was just amazed when they would appear on camera to cover all the breaking news of the morning, many times, rushing to a scene of a story with little or no advance information and what information they do have is kind of incomplete can you imagine? They do it with such poise and credibility. Amazing!
One day I was visiting my brother-in-law Bill Gress in Columbus, Ohio about a year after he retired from a wonderful career in banking. “Do you miss work?” I asked. “No, I don’t miss the job, but I do miss the people,” he said.
I too, miss the people. Well most of the people!