Thirty Five Years In As Many Minutes

The other night I spoke to the 1,021st meeting of the Franklin Club in Grand Forks. It’s true. Franklin Club has been meeting monthly (nine months a year) for more than one hundred years. Ginny and I have been members for quite a few of those years.

Dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Franklin, who was interested in just about everything, Franklin Club is a social group in which members provide most of the programs themselves. Usually, the talks are about members’ work, hobbies or something they’re interested in. I remember great programs about bee keeping, puppetry and Roy Rogers.

The other day Mark Rios called from the club’s program committee saying they’d like me to speak to the September meeting. In his most persuasive, charming, island manner, he said “We’d like you to talk about your work. We even have a topic for you. ‘My 10 Favorite Interviews.'” I thought there might be some little justification for me doing this. This is my thirty-fifth year at WDAZ. (I was seven when I was hired.)

So, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks looking back at some of stories I’ve put reported for Channel 8 as I’ve been stringing together my little Franklin Club talk. I used to keep a list of stories I produced for Channel 8. I lost track after 3,200-something.

They weren’t all exactly interviews and because journalists are notoriously bad at math, there may not have been exactly ten of them.

We talked about coverage of visits to the area by presidents like Ronald Reagan, royals like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and native North Dakota entertainers like Peggy Lee and Lawrence Welk.

I tried to describe what being asked to “fly” (like Peter Pan) is like at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. I also talked about the thrill of flying with members of the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.

I talked about having a line written for me to deliver in the soap opera General Hospital  and the twenty-five cent residual check I got in the mail a couple months later. (It was far and away the smallest check our tax guy had ever seen.)

The most difficult thing to recall was the strange mix of journalism and public service we practiced at WDAZ during the flood of 1997, trying to help the thousands of people who had to evacuate their Grand Forks-East Grand Forks area homes. Talk about a flood of memories again this year as Minot, Bismarck and Fargo went through much the same sort of thing.

For me, thirty-five years at WDAZ have gone by faster than I could ever have imagined. As the Grateful Dead taught us so well, so long ago, what a long, strange trip it’s been!

I’m not quite done yet, eihter.  To those of you who do, thank you for watching WDAZ News @5.  To those of you who don’t, I just like to say, you’re not too old to change your viewing habits.