Feb 4, 2016

40 years in Alabama!

Outside the 2nd Avenue North studios w/Dwight
    It was early in 1976 that I moved from New York City to Birmingham, Alabama. 40 years ago today, give or take a few weeks. 
    Bob Rowe and I had worked together in New York, and he had moved to Birmingham to become News Director at a radio station. One day in late '75 he called and asked if I would be interested in working at the station. I knew nothing about Alabama. Nothing! I flew down for an interview and not too many week later I was living in Birmingham.

     I believed the move would be a short one...just a few years in The Deep South. Yet here I am, like a bad penny, still in Alabama four decades later. 
     Remember, the difference between a Yankee and a Damned Yankee: the Damned Yankee stays.

     During that first year in Birmingham, I...
     Worked at WERC AM960 Radio, which was a music station back then, Top 40 format, changing to a talk-radio format several years later. There was a WERC-FM, but it would be several years before FM started taking over, replacing AM as the dominant radio band.
  • Saw All The President's Men as a first run movie at The Alabama Theater.
  • Rented an apartment overlooking unfinished I-65 at the Montgomery Highway. Much later I was there when George Wallace cut the ribbon to open that stretch of the Interstate. Rumor always had it that the Interstates in Birmingham were unfinished because the city had not voted for Wallace.
Bob Rowe and I up top. Jesse Champion below.
  •  Reported traffic from the WERC Helicopter (long gone, way too expensive for any local radio station these days.) I'm confident I used the wrong names and numbers for streets and Interstate highways  during those first months as I looked down at my adopted  hometown. All of those hours in the chopper taught me how to ad lib without saying "uh" every other word, and I earned the layout of the city much quicker. I replaced Steve Sanders in the chopper, now of WGN fame in Chicago, and flew in ice storms and heat waves and everything in between. Eventually I became News Director and then Operations Manager.
  • And I met friends with whom I am still in contact!
         Ahead of me in Alabama was the change to TalkRadio, a move to TV in 1995, thanks to another former News Director, John Harrod, who thought a radio guy could work on camera and hired me for Channel 42 to host a weather/feature story segment called "Southern Exposure", and then, a move to Montgomery in 1998 thanks to a third former News Director. 
    The last FTR. February 3, 2009

         Johanna Cleary hired me to host "For The Record" on Public TV, a job that lasted 11 years. The last FTR aired seven years ago---February 3rd, in 2009. And then, in the midst of the
    Great Recession, a 4th News Director Rob Martin brought me on board at CBS 8 in Montgomery. 
    And now for the next 40 years! 

1 comment:

Jay Croft said...

Congratulations, Tim! That's quite a record!