Monday, May 23, 2011

There but for the Grace of God...

In the late 1970's I worked at WGN-TV in Chicago after having co-anchored the first full half- hour, early- morning newscast in Milwaukee called "The Morning Scene". At WGN I was a television/radio reporter, writer, radio producer and fill-in weather person for Harry Volkman.

A couple of life- changing events took place during that time. The biggest was my mother's diagnosis of lung cancer and my decision to take a leave of absence from WGN to come back to Milwaukee to care for her. Mind you, this was before the Family Medical Leave Act. When I told my news director I had to go home for my mother, he said " how long will you be gone?" I said, "as long as she needs me."

Caring for my dying mother was the hardest job I have ever had.  And you know me, I never say "ever". But, I would not have walked away from it for anything. It changed my life.

The other event that set a direction for my life during that time, was an interview I had with an executive of WLS-TV in Chicago. He may have heard about the Milwaukee morning show where I anchored, edited (film at the time), produced, did the weather and did interviews and generally filled time with a memorable man: Pete Wilson.

It was a lunch interview at a place in Evanston, Illinois. We talked about what I had done, what I thought of Chicago and the program for which he was interviewing young women.  It was a daily talk- show with some news tossed in. Since I worked in Chicago and went to college in Evanston (Northwestern U.- Go Wildcats!)
I was familiar with the city and how news operated there.

It sounded like a good show and I left the meeting hoping to be considered as the host. I did not get the job and came home to work for two- decades plus at WITI- TV6/ SIX IS NEWS/FOX 6.

The interview was for a show called "A.M. Chicago". The host they hired was another young woman from Milwaukee.  If I had gotten the job... who knows?

The other young woman's name is Oprah Winfrey.

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