Last week I spent a few wonderful days visiting my friend Betty in California. She lives up on a mountain that towers above Palm Springs in a picturesque & quirky little town. One of the things I like best about where she lives is that you can take your dog almost everywhere, so Dixie accompanied us on all our treks. Dog-friendly towns are the best in my book.
I’ve known Betty since the late 80’s when we both worked at a TV station in Atlanta. It was a start up news operation, Tribune Broadcasting had purchased a Christian station and decided to convert it to an independent commercial operation, complete with a news department. We had a different format than anything else in town, we did one hour of news at 10pm (back East the late newscasts were a half hour starting at 11pm) and that’s all we did and we did it very well. Most of the staff reveled in the format. We had seasoned veterans and newbies who all wanted a chance to tell a better story than you could do in 1:10. Although I do remember the producer, Hugh, wanting to kill me when I turned in a photo essay on the Georgia/Georgia Tech football rivalry that ran 3 and a half minutes, but he later forgave me and let me air a two minute music video on little league baseball that later won an Emmy. We weren’t just fluff, by any means. Betty covered the legislature and all the impacts it had on our daily lives better than anybody in town. We sent a crew in with the Georgia National Guard to the first Gulf War, but only after spending weeks trying to secure visas. By the time we got them I was on a first name basis with the clerk at the Saudi Embassy in DC.
I it was a very special time in our lives, but that was then.
The thing that keeps it alive and much more than just “glory days” memories are the wonderful people I worked with in that shop that I can still count as friends. Betty is certainly high among them. Neither of us are still in TV news, in fact neither of us even care to watch local news anymore, but we have each pursued our own creative endeavors. Betty has also managed to raise three wonderful children while becoming a fabulous writer.
Yes, WGNX-TV was a magical time, but the real magic has been how the people we knew then continue to touch each others lives today.