My -almost- Television Career

My -almost- Television Career

My Almost Television Career by Robert VaughanI almost had a career in television. For the last three months I was in the army, I took part in a program called “Operation Transition.” That enabled me to find a job in the civilian sector….while the army continued to pay me.

A local television station near Ft. Eustis agreed to take me on under those circumstances. I wrote features for them, I had an on-air presence as a reviewer of books, movies, plays, and restaurants. I also interviewed writers, and visiting personalities. And, I wrote news stories for the six and eleven o’clock news. This was, by the way, in the days of SOF (Sound on Film) rather that video.

I had a rather warped sense of humor then, and I sort of let it gain control over me. On one incident the golfer, Orville Moody, came to visit. I convinced him that it would be good if he would give some golfing lessons, on film, to our weather girl. We went to the golf course and he showed her how to hold the club, address the ball, etc…..and she did everything so clumsily that he was about to give up. Then he said, “Go ahead and hit it, then we’ll start from there.”

What I hadn’t told Mr. Moody was that our weather girl had been a runner up national collegiate champion in women’s golf. She knocked the ball about 250 yards, straight down the middle of the fairway. Moody’s face reflected his shock. “DAYUM! I SHOULD TEACH!” We had to cut that comment from the SOF.

Another incident involved our anchor. He was an excellent attack reader…and because of that he refused to discuss any news story before he presented it. He was a bit . . .I’ll just say pompous. So I wrote a story for him for the six o’clock news.

Portsmouth police petitioned pickle packers posting policy procedures principally protesting paltry pricing programs to stand down yesterday..

He began: “Portsmouth pickle perk…uh…Portsmouth packer picker…uh…Por per pro… uh…but more on this at eleven.”

He wasn’t happy with the news story…which I insisted was simply impactful alliteration.

But my own personal demise…and what got me fired from the TV studio was, I admit today, a dumb stunt. Earlier in the day a police officer had been a guest on a children’s program, and he was showing all the equipment a policemen carried. When he left, he left behind his handcuffs. I was sitting at the news desk having just given a book review, and it was time for the weather report. The weather girl (I’m not being sexist, that’s what they were called then) was working with the map in Chroma key. In her right hand was a wand…and she was pointing to a blank blue background while looking at the map on the studio monitor. Her left hand was on the corner of the desk….right in front of me….and right above the policeman’s handcuffs. I couldn’t resist….I handcuffed her to the desk.

This was on live TV and the problem was…the policeman had left the handcuffs….but not the key. It took us an hour to get her free. The station manager was watching from home.

That was the last day of my broadcasting career on WAVY-TV.

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