Chuck

Chuck Bundlie
1930 – 2008

The following are remarks I was asked to make at Chuck’s funeral today:

Good afternoon, I’m Terry Dullum. I worked with Chuck for well over a decade and a half at WDAZ. He was my boss, but he was also a friend.

Back in 1975, he was willing to hire a then young, hopelessly inexperienced reporter, when no one else seemed very interested in doing so. Ginny is fond of saying he is responsible for her and I finding what she calls our little spot in the world here in Grand Forks.

Chuck gave more than a few reporters their first or early jobs in broadcasting. He was exceedingly patient in letting young reporters find their way at work. One in particular, who was more interested in reporting human interest stories than what he probably should have been doing, covering city hall, the police beat and the court system.

Without caring to be, Chuck was a matchmaker. At least three people he hired to work at WDAZ over the years married three other people he hired to work at WDAZ. Two of the three couples stayed married. Statistically, that’s not too bad.

Chuck himself was a masterful storyteller. That’s what we do in the news business, after all, we tell stories, one after another. Some of the stories Chuck told off the air should have been told on the air–some of them.

Some of my favorite revolve around Chuck’s first co-anchor. Chuck’s first co-anchor was not human. Now, I’m here to tell you, a lot of them aren’t human. But, Chuck’s first co-anchor truly was not.

His first co-anchor was named Ozzie. He was Chuck and Rock’s basset hound.

Ozzie would go to work with Chuck, especially when he worked early in the morning at WDAZ. When Channel 8 was new, people there were always looking for ways to attract viewers, to increase the ratings. Somebody got the idea of putting Ozzie on the air with Chuck each morning. Maybe, it was Chuck himself.

Unlike some co-anchors, being on television was no big thing to Ozzie. Other things were more important to Ozzie, like his personal hygiene, which he sometimes took an interest in while he was on camera. It was live television, and tuning in see what "that dog" was going to do became "must-see" TV in our area.

Ozzie would sit in a chair next to Chuck. He was supposed to be on-camera for just a few seconds at the top of the newscast. The camera operator was supposed to push in to a close-up of Chuck, eliminating Ozzie was sight. Some mornings, the camera guy was faster than other mornings.

On one particularly memorable morning, while Chuck read his lead story, the camera lingered on the shot of both Chuck and Ozzie together. As Chuck read the latest statement from Hubert Humphrey, no less, Ozzie yawned–broadly.

Years later Chuck still laughed telling me about the telephone call he got moments after leaving the air from a Democratic Party official furious about the dog yawning just as the Humphrey quote ended. But he also demanded to know how Ozzie was prompted to yawn on cue. He also wanted assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. It was assurance, I’m certain, he didn’t get from Chuck.

Ozzie would become enormously popular. There are other Ozzie stories. Ozzie drawing a crowd at Pembina, while Chuck was largely ignored and a large part of the Greater Grand Forks Police and Fire Department staffs being dispatched to help search for Ozzie one day when he wandered off.

People in our business look up to the likes of Edward R. Murrow, Eric Severaid, Charles Collingwood and Howard K. Smith as the epitome of broadcast journalists, and rightly so.

On a local level, I also look up to broadcasters like Norm Schrader, Marv Bossart, Boyd Christenson, Dewey Bergquist and Chuck Bundlie. They were television pioneers. I had the good fortune to grow up watching them on television. In part they are the reason I do what I do for a living today. But I’ve also had the good fortune in my life to know them as well.
It seems to me they all shared one quality, aside from being very, very good at what they did. They took their work seriously, but never themselves. They enjoyed their work, but not too much. They had their priorities straight. And, when they got together, there would be laughter–and lots of it.

Chuck did more than just cover the Grand Forks community. Somehow he represented the community as well.

More than once I remember Chuck going out of his way to help shed some light on the plight of someone he felt didn’t have as much of a voice with some branch of government or other as he felt that person should have.

Without even trying to, Chuck taught me a lot about what’s important in life–work, family and friends, animals, nature, tennis, good music, a good book, a good glass of wine–not necessarily in that order.

Chuck loved his job, and he loved to laugh. I am richer for having worked with him. But also for having shared more than a few good laughs with him.

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About Terry Dullum

Terry Dullum is a North Dakota native and a graduate of the University of North Dakota. Currently, he is the anchor and producer of WDAZ News @5. He is also a popular speaker throughout the region.
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One Response to Chuck

  1. Avatar of Terry Dullum Terry Dullum says:

    A nice remembrance.

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