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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Far, Far Better Thing

I thought writing this blog would be therapeutic. I thought it would help to exorcise some ghosts that needed to “get going” (as Jeanne Antol-Krull would say). I thought it would help demystify the Charles Dickens “best of times, worst of times” paradox that had been my life for so long. I thought… well, I think too much.

Seriously, though, I’m overwhelmed by the response I’ve received. Yeah, I know, there are very few comments to my posts, and not a soul has signed up to “follow” this blog. But that’s the public stuff. Behind the scenes, I have heard from a lot of old friends, and I’ve watched the Sitemeter numbers grow by the day. People are watching, and that’s good. Because I know a lot of you, too, need to sort out your own Charles Darnay/Sydney Carton paradoxes. I know a lot of you, too, feel the WCIX years were the best of your life. And yet, like me, you couldn’t wait to move on, and so move on you did. Which is good. Real good. You know the story of Medusa and what happened to those who looked back, and you tell yourself you’re not going to risk turning to stone, but heck, Medusa was only a myth. And besides, you’ll never know where you’re going, if you don’t remember where you’ve been.

When I left WFOR (the former WCIX) on May 31, 1996, I thought it was for good. Just six weeks later, a hurricane named Bertha threatened, and the assistant news director gave me a call. They needed bodies in the newsroom, and since I needed no training, I was asked if I’d like to freelance for a few days. At first I said no. After all, my last day at the station was just six weeks earlier! I wasn’t ready to give back my going-away drinks at Tobacco Road, my adios ride in Chopper 4, or the very nice VO at the end of the show that Anne Roberts and Khambrel Marshall read. So Amy Feller sweetened the pot, offering me much more money than I’d ever seen as a full-timer. I’ll take the deal, Howie! So for a few days in the summer of 1996… I was back.

As more help was needed at the station, I got called in again. And again. For the next three years, it was almost as if I had not left… minus the benefits and paid vacation time. I loved seeing my great friends, but didn’t like having to write bogus stories about O.J. Simpson, Heidi Fleiss, and all the other bollocks. I continued to fight against airing 9-1-1 tapes (which exploit people in their most vulnerable moments). And I took a stand in favor of an anchor/reporter who I thought was being mistreated. I stepped on some toes, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. On May 28, 1999, I left the Channel 4 newsroom after a freelance shift. I would never see the inside of that building again.

In the nearly ten years that followed, I did everything possible to get TV news out of my system. I stopped watching. I cut off contact with just about everybody that I worked with. I immersed myself in projects ranging from EyeQRadio (now defunct) to The South Florida Baseball Museum (also now defunct). With each passing day, and year, the neurons that tied me to my former life as a TV producer turned into the ghosts of newsrooms past. Consciously, at least. Subconsciously, it was a different story.

The dreams began: one newsroom nightmare after another. You know the one about going to class, and not having done your homework? I had several newsroom variations, but instead of homework, I would be staring at a rundown, not having a bloody clue what any of the stories were about. I probably had 200 newsroom dreams over the past 9-and-a-half years. I hated them! I wanted them to stop! Until recently, that is.

Now that I’m out of Miami, and there’s no chance of my ever getting back to where I once belonged, the dreams don’t bother me. In fact, I kind of enjoy seeing the people who turn up in those nocturnal novelas. And for the first time since 1999, I wanted to reconnect with my old TV friends. I miss you guys, more than I could have ever imagined. As the late Miami clothier Austin Burke used to say, “I love you all!

(Austin Burke, "Little Old Burkie")

And so I started this blog, hoping I would hear from some of my old pals. And just last week I started a Say Six! group on Facebook. In just one week, 37 people have joined that group, and the number keeps growing. I’m having a blast sharing photographs, videos, and memories with you guys. I’m glad you’re back in my life, and hope you stay there for a long time.

If you enjoy this blog, or just want to reconnect with old friends, please stop by the Say Six! Facebook group, and join in. I promise not to bore the Dickens* out of you.

(*Counting the title, that’s five Dickens references in one post. My old English teacher, Mrs. Sirgany, would have been proud. So would her niece, future WFOR reporter Aleen Sirgany.

One additional note: Every time I post a new entry, an old entry disappears from this page. You can still access the older posts by clicking on the tab that reads… Older Posts. Is this a great country, or what?)

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