I reached a significant career milestone last week: I marked 30 years in TV. It’s been a wild ride I hope won’t end soon.
I knew the anniversary was last week. But it was such a busy week that I barely had time to mark 30 years in TV.
I find it hard to believe five years passed since I mentioned my 25th anniversary in this crazy business.
Back on an April day in 1991, a news director in Columbia took a chance on a college junior majoring in broadcasting. He hired me for a part-time job with two primary functions. First, I had to act as a liaison between the news and production departments to build graphics for newscasts. Then, during the newscasts, I sat in a closet-sized room and pressed “play” on giant videotape machines whenever an anchor pitched to a recorded story. (In the business, we call those “packages.”)
In three decades, just about everything has changed.
I’ve seen us go from videotape to digital files. I started in a newsroom still using electric typewriters. In today’s computerized newsrooms, you won’t find a typewriter.
Where we once recorded video in more-forgiving standard definition, we now shoot in hyper-detailed HD. (I’m glad I’m now on the backside of the camera. HD shows every wrinkle and every gray hair. I have both, thank you very much.)
In my 30 years in TV, I’ve worked at three television stations in two states. I’ve been employed by six different ownership companies in that time. I did everything from on-air reporting to directing to marketing to managing digital. I think I have worked under a total of 10 different TV news directors in that time.
It’s difficult to keep track of all of the changes. I suppose that’s true of every industry. But television seems to have a unique place in the world of change. For something that remains so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, the changes keep coming.
There will come a day — sooner than some of us would like — when local stations won’t be affiliated with networks as we know them now. Everyone wants you streaming their service (and paying for it).
But there will always be a need for local news and weather information, no matter where you find your favorite reality shows, game shows, dramas and sitcoms.
That much, I’m happy to say, won’t change.
Will I make it through another 30 years? Well, if I still am working at age 81, then I suppose I will.
Twenty years might be more realistic. That’d give me an even 50.
And I’d consider myself very fortunate to reach that milestone, too!
People attribute variations of a certain quote about work to everyone from Winston Churchill to Marc Anthony to Confucius. (I doubt the latter said it.) But the quote goes something like this:
Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Some days are definitely work. Some days can be brutal. But if I didn’t love it — even on days like that — I’d have never made it through 30 years!