Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twilight Time

During the 60's and 70's I had the good fortune of working for the two largest, most powerful Radio and TV stations in Washington. I'm very proud of that.

Francis Fitzgerld and Ed

I'm also proud of the fact that I worked for two great stations in Charlotte, WGIV and WSOC-TV. Both of my bosses at those stations became my friends. Francis Fitzgerald, the founder of WGIV drove me to Furman (his alma mater) to look over the campus when I was considering which college to attend.

The Johnson Family and Larry Walker on piano

Larry Walker was one of the owners and the “big boss” at WSOC-TV when it first went on the air. I had many conversations with him, and usually wound up talking about his days as a pianist on WBT radio.

But the corporate scene at the stations in Washington was totally different. Perhaps it was because both of those stations also owned newspapers, and they took themselves more seriously. At any rate, I never even met the owners of the two stations I worked for there.

However, I once was summoned to the office of the second in command of the media conglomerate that hired me in 1970.

I had only been at that station for a few weeks, but I knew that it was rare for Mr. NUMBER TWO to communicate directly with a mere employee. His meetings were usually with people who were the “bosses” of people on my level.

My first thought was that I must have done something so awful that it was imperative that I be fired by a top corporate executive instead of a mere TV news or program director. Perhaps, like Sam Donaldson (who, like me, was local at the time) President Johnson didn't like something I had said and wanted me fired.

(Sam had broken the story that Lady Bird Johnson had gained ownership of a very profitable TV station in Dallas via political hanky panky...or something like that. But my old station didn't fire him as the President had requested, because Sam's story turned out to be true.)

However, I didn't think that I had been at my latest station long enough, and  wasn't enough of a big fish, to make too many people, especially the President, mad so it must be about something else.

Maybe even some unexpected opportunity or promotion?

I had no clue.

As I waited outside the luxurious fifth floor suite of executive offices, I did my best to mentally prepare myself for whatever was to happen by concentrating on past great personal challenges that I had managed to survive...such as Algebra class at CHS, and the time I had gotten caught participating in a food fight at Elizabeth school and was called into Miss Hattie's office. And then there was the time while hanging election posters when I tried to move the marble bench in the hall just outside of John Otts's office...and had to face his wrath after he heard the crash and stormed out of his office to observe the broken pieces of marble lying in the hall.

I convinced myself that I was a survivor!  Surely I would survive whatever was in store for me behind that thick corporate door.

But I was still nervous as I entered his office and took a seat facing “Mr. Big.”

“I want to show you something,” he said, opening the top drawer of his desk,... “for the past three months I've been keeping a record of this....”

At this point, he gestured that I come closer and examine what appeared to be some kind of mathematical chart full of dates followed by numbers and plus and minus symbols.

“I think you'll find this as fascinating as I do. It is an almost unbelievable technological achievement.
I've been keeping a daily record of the accuracy of this wristwatch that I purchased three months ago....and, as you can see, the figures show that it has only lost 18 seconds in all that time.

Amazing, isn't it,” he said.

“It sure is,” I replied.

And with that, I was excused.

I've never told this story before because it defies categorizing, not to mention all the rules of storytelling and common logic. It's just something that “happened.”

I'm a magnet for that kind of stuff.


PS......I recently learned about the most recent innovation in accurate wristwatches.

It is always 100% accurate!