Tuesday, March 31, 2015

STRICTLY MENTAL

I spent 30 years working as a broadcast journalist. That's a fancy term for a news reporter on radio and/or television. I started out as a disc jockey in my college days, then worked for a newspaper for about 6 months, then went back to radio in the same town: Minot, North Dakota. A couple of years later I found a job at a television station in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I did everything there - news, weather, sports, MC'ed the weekly Polka Party, and broadcast our live coverage of a bowling tournament. I had bowled a bit in my youth but I was extremely bad at identifying the splits in this tournament. I'd say "well, it looks like a 4-8 split for him," and a spectator sitting right next to me would murmur "no, that's a 7-10," and I'd make a correction on air. Mortifying.

When the Fischer quintuplets were born soon after I had taken over the one-man news department, I was awakened by a call from UPI in Chicago asking me for news about them. It was the first I had heard about the multiple births. Later, NBC called wanting film of the new kids and I had to confess that our television station didn't have a movie camera! Regardless of all that I managed to parlay the massive (for Aberdeen, South Dakota) news onslaught into a job back in my home state in Bismarck, North Dakota.

I spent six years there and became news director when the guy who had hired me found a new job in San Francisco. Nice advancement I thought: Bismarck, North Dakota to San Francisco, California. But my turn came later, when a disc jockey friend of mine from the radio part of the radio and television combine I was working for got a new job in Indianapolis, Indiana. A few months later he called me and said his new station was looking for a newsman and I should apply. I was concerned about the move to a 50,000 watt radio station in a market of a million or more from my job in a market of maybe 50,000 souls. Would I be good enough? What if I couldn't cut it? My friend assured me that if I didn't I could always go back to a station in North Dakota or Minnesota with the Indy experience on my resume. I thought about it for awhile but finally sent off a tape and resume and forgot about it. Several weeks later I received a call and a job offer. With some trepidation I said yes.

When I arrived, I quickly learned that I was the only person on the staff who could write a complete sentence. And quickly. So I stayed for three years, had a great time, met the lady who became SWMBO, and also made a friend I've hung onto for 45 years.

Later I moved to Phoenix and worked for a television station there for 13 years before taking a break of 16 years before winding up with several years at a tiny AM radio station in Prescott, Arizona.

Well. I've bored you all with that lengthy story in order to explain something about yesterday's blog post. I was checking Facebook in the morning and saw that it was the birthday of a former news director of mine, Jim Willi, and also the 70th birthday of Eric Clapton. Somehow, in my first-cup-of-coffee-of-the-day mental meanderings, I reasoned that BOTH men were turning 70. Oops! I later learned from the somewhat outraged Mr. Willi that he was only 67!

One of the first rules of news gathering is: get it fast and get it right. The old reporter had failed that rule. "They" say: once a reporter, always a reporter. What they don't say is: everyone makes a mistake occasionally. But needless to say, I was embarrassed.




I've been wondering for some time how to use this photo. I think this is the time and place.

"...This is Bruce Taylor, reporting from oblivion."

7 comments:

  1. You look like maybe you could be in the warm up band for Daft Punk. And a correction, our late pal Will Murphy could write a complete sentence and so could our weekend man Phil Henry-but then perhaps you preceded them.
    I joined later. Palmer and Heckman could write them, they just didn't. Palmer staccato delivery style was unique.
    Fred of course wrote in the…style…better for his train of thought….morning radio man that he was….next…..

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  2. What's three years when you are remembered in the same post as Clapton?

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  3. Steve in The Valley of the SunMarch 31, 2015 at 1:07 PM

    Some stories never grow old!

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  4. We all make mistakes from time to time...and from time to time...and fr--

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  5. Great memoir. Glad you took the plunge into the deep waters of Naptown. We all started with the same feelings of uncertainty. As for your fact checking I am reminded of the old rule from the Chicago City News Bureau: If your mother says I Love You, check it out

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  6. Meh...67...70...what a few years among friends? :)

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  7. Wow! You've done a lot of stuff! And you are not a bit "camera shy".

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