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Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's All In The Game

They paid us… to hang around a TV station, to watch Tom & Jerry cartoons, to appear on Duck Duck Goose, while eating a piece of birthday cake that seemed to be around on any given day. They paid us… to be an eyewitness to turbulent events in America’s most turbulent city, during its most turbulent decade. We met exciting people, shared exciting times, and grew up a little with each passing year, and yes, they paid us for it. That’s one way to look at it.

If I put away the Kool-Aid and the rose colored glasses, I can see the not-so-fabulous flip side: the long hours, the six-and-seven-day weeks, being just a name on a schedule, having to sweat out the latest round of cutbacks, the egos of our bosses, understaffed newscasts, and endless critiques of every minor “discrepancy” we were a part of. Let’s face it, it was hard. We worked our butts off. We earned our fun!

I’ve talked about some of the ways in which we blew off steam, but really, the possibilities were endless. Personally speaking, I loved getting together with the guys for softball, and occasionally basketball (though I could never really keep up with Fess, Lucious, or Cisco). As a little guy with no power, I was the perennial bit player at our early 80s softball games, but I really enjoyed getting out there and doing my best. And yes, I really did play catcher.

(Click images to view them full screen)

The film that follows was shot in 1979, before my time at the station. I managed to save this from the trash heap during the great film purge of 1985. Notice how everyone in this footage is having a blast, even reporter Harlan Levy. And no, I’m not sure who the chicken dancer is, but I’m hoping somebody will recognize her.

(Channel 6 vs. Channel 2, August 25, 1979. By the way, Channel 2 beat us.)

And yes, I still have my rather faded WCIX softball shirt. It still fits.

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