Write Again … Long, hard hours and paltry pay

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

During one of the several side trips I took, away from my main journey’s labors in education (a splendid vocation that was, for those who didn’t wish to be bothered by managing much money), I spent a year in the television realm.

At one point prior to that endeavor I had spent some months as sports editor at the WDN, sort of an interim arrangement, before returning to do the required student teaching for my B.S. degree at East Carolina College (It wasn’t a “U” then.)

Now, I didn’t seek the TV job. No, it came to me. Would I like to be sports director? Me?

Well, I had been a coach, and a certified high school football official (commonly called a referee, among other appellations, some not so kind) and a sports editor.

So, in late 1968, I became sports director at WITN-TV, right here in Little Washington.

If anyone ever fell short of the typical, seemingly preferred mellifluous baritone voice so common in radio and TV, it was your truly. A “voice” I was not.

The work hours? Well, let me tell you, for most TV folks today, the hours those of us on the news staff kept back then would seem beyond reason. They wouldn’t do it.

I would arrive mornings at the station before 9 o’clock, unless we had an assignment that necessitated coming in earlier. Sometimes much earlier.

Usually I would be with Gordy. He was our chief photographer,a bon vivant  who seemed to be known by everyone just about everywhere we went, a delightful work companion, who became a good friend. Sometimes one other newsman would accompany us.

Fact is, our entire staff was small, compared to today’s organizations.

We had a news director, a news anchor, who also did in-the-field reporting, a sports director (me) who did sports and also news gathering, and our main photographer. Our news anchor, George, and I did photography in the field as well.

And we had one — only one — weather man. That could be a stand-alone column, but it’s best to let that one lie.

Back in the newsroom, I edited film and wrote copy for both news and sports, doing so often up to and even into the actual beginning of the 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. news block. Talk about stress.

After we went off the air, we could go home for supper, unless — and, believe me, there were a lot of “unlesses.”

That was five days a week. We worked only half-days on Saturdays.

That is, unless there were more “unlesses.” There often were, of course.

My pay was $150 per week. That’s gross, folks. Take-home was appreciably less as you may well imagine.

If you didn’t have a family, and didn’t have other interests, such a hectic, but at times enjoyable, job wasn’t so bad. If …

On a couple of occasions through the years I would briefly tell a current sports person (usually quite young) at the station what my hours and responsibilities had been back when. I don’t recall any of those with whom I shared such experiences having the slightest interest in “my” story at all. They couldn’t have cared less.

And so it was, lo, these many years ago, when I was a part — albeit a very small and insignificant part — of broadcast journalism.

Now, just for you menfolk out there in reader-land, let me tell you what my tagline was at the end of each on-camera presentation: “And remember, if you can’t be an athlete, you can be an athletic supporter.”

That was bad.