Archive for June, 2006

Getting to Know Me
June 30, 2006

Someone told me a blog is nothing more than a window into your life. A chance to tell people things they may not know about you if they met you on a street corner. So I thought I would take this time before I head out for the holiday weekend to tell you a little about myself.

Likes: BBQ, Sunsets, Playstation, Grapes, Sports Yearbooks, HBO, James Bond Flicks
Dislikes: People who don’t say “thank you” when you hold the door for them, egomaniacs, slow drivers in the left lane
Fears: Death, heights, making my wife angry, getting beat on a story
Passions: Golf, Golf, Golf

There is nothing I love more than an afternoon on the golf course. If you have been watching over the years, you have likely heard my references to hitting the links for a round of golf. I love the game and have been a passionate player since the days before Tiger Woods. My love for the game was first fostered on the fairways of Alabama in my last job before WTAE. It’s a great way to make friends and to enjoy the outdoors. While I love to play, I’m a below average player. If I break 100, I’m thrilled. If I break 90, I’m dreaming.

Enjoy the extended weekend everyone and I will see you next week for more adventures in the morning.

Back from vacation
June 26, 2006

Back in January, I had scheduled a week of vacation in late June. Hoping to use it as a break before the All-Star game and Steelers Training camp. But suddenly, I moved to the morning news desk and started to co-anchor with Kelly Frey the week before my vacation. So — in essence — after a week on the job, I got a week-long vacation.

It was an interesting week to say the least. Thanks to my new schedule, I found myself getting up at 3am during vacation week for no reason at all. I also had a desire for coffee in the morning after having never had a cup during my ten years as sports director. I guess it’s because Demetrius’ morning blend is so good, I just need that first cup of java now. I’m trying to kick the habit.

But the more interesting portion of the week involved seeing people. People I knew and people I did not. I found it interesting to hear their reaction as they told me their feelings about my move to mornings. While all were universally positive, some asked me whether this was a promotion or a demotion ( it’s a promotion). I was also asked those common questions: How early do you have to get up and when do you go to bed?

I also had the chance to take part in two incredible events on Friday. One, I have emceed for the last five years. That’s the Mike Ditka celebrity golf outing at the Beaver Lakes Club in Aliquippa. “Iron Mike” always brings back his fellow former football players for a golf outing that raises money for scholarships for scholar-athletes in Beaver County. He’s been doing it for 20 years and has never forgotten where he grew up. That night, I attended the wedding of the sports information department at the University of Pittsburgh. It was at the reception that I saw a stunning sight: Steve Pederson, Jeff Long and Marc Boehm. The last three athletic directors at the school all in the same room. That was wild!

The weekend ended with my wedding anniversary. My wife, Sharon, and myself celebrated six years of marriage. I know that whatever success I have had in my life is a tribute to her hard work, dedication, patience and understanding. When you work in the TV business, life is far from normal and it takes an understanding and generous spouse to help you realize your dreams. For that Sharon, I am truly grateful. More than you will ever know.

After all this, I’m back at work and excited to be back. I can’t wait to see what adventures await me in my second week on the job. Adventures I hope to share with you on this blog in the coming weeks and months.

My "Work Wife"
June 15, 2006

After 15 years of covering sports, the greatest change for me in moving to the news side of the business is having to share the desk with a partner — a co-anchor. It figured to be the toughest part of my new job because for so many years I have done weeknight sportscasts by myself. The only time I have shared the stage is during our “Steelers Primetime” broadcasts, where Sally Wiggin and I have served as co-hosts for over a decade. Our banter and relationship has been described as a marriage of sorts — and Sally has often been referred to by those close to me as my “work wife”.

Well, I have a new partner. A new “work wife”. Kelly Frey is my co-anchor and she has made my transition very easy. Kelly and I aren’t really that different which makes the transition much smoother. She is energetic and she tells me she loves to do outdoor work — something we have in common. Plus, her descriptions of her favorite foods during the commercial breaks makes me hungry. Kelly is willing to share the spotlight and that’s not always common in the television business. Plus, she has a desire to be the best reporter she can be and she is willing t0 go the extra mile to get the story — and get it right. It’s that attitude that I like most.

Yes, I have a partner for the first time. I’m more than willing to be a sidekick, but Kelly is more than happy to have me share equal billing. I appreciate that more than she knows. I just wish my real wife would give me the same share of the spotlight. Alas, in my house, Sharon is the star and I’m part of the supporting cast.

First Day on the Job
June 14, 2006

As mentioned in my final Action Sports blog entry, I have made the move from sports to news. After 15 years of covering the games, I was finally beginning to cover the real world — or so I thought. My first day as co-anchor of Channel 4 Action News this morning was as eventful as any in my career.

The actual process of anchoring the morning news with Kelly Frey was relatively easy. She is a joy to work with and her energy and attitude is infectious — even at 5am in the morning. We had a smooth 2-hour show with little problem. After all the updates during “Good Morning America”, I was asked to put together stories for noon and 5pm regarding John Murtha’s comments on Iraq.

It was 11:30am and I was about to call it a day. That’s when the all you know what broke loose.

Our 6pm producer called me over to her desk to watch a live feed coming from sky 4 of a motorcycle accident and she asked me if the bike in question belonged to Ben. Having seen Ben’s bike a few times, it did not look familiar. It only took a couple of minutes for our partnership with the Trib to confirm it was Ben.

Sally and Michelle broke into programming shortly before noon and our live coverage began. I was asked to stand by and be ready on our newsroom set with any new details. Instead, I wound up being the “expert” — providing insight and analysis based upon my knowledge of the situation from my years in sports.

We went back and forth for two hours as the drama unfolded live on WTAE. When I finally got off the air, there was a sense of accomplishment from being able to contribute to such as team effort and knowing that while I had left sports, I would still need that insight to perform my job as a news anchor.

For a first day in news, I certainly felt like I was a still a sportscaster. To quote Al Pacino in “The Godfather III”:

“As soon as I think I’m out, they pull me back in”.