One thing about tv that I do miss is the community events. Yesterday I had the honor of serving as honorary golf chair for a golf tournament benefiting the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes. It made me realize how much I miss those types of events.
When I was in Huntsville, the station there took a huge interest in it’s reporters and anchors participating in community events. (In Memphis it was encouraged, but they didn’t make any time allowance for these kinds of things.)
WHNT in Huntsville encouraged me to participate in every community event I was asked. I must have played in 15 golf tournaments a year. The station even had it’s own golf tourney. Did it make a difference for the viewers? I think so.
I have never seen community support and interest in a television station like I saw in Huntsville. Each year the station would host an open house and invite viewers to tour the station and meet the on-air and behind the scenes folks who brought them their news every day. Every year, thousands of people would line up for the tour. One year in particular I remember it was raining steadily, but people were lined up around the building, in the rain, waiting for their turn.
I think it made a difference in the number of people watching. Not just our station, but the other two in town as well. Viewers identified with the on-air staff and felt they were part of their community and their lives.
I saw it too in Memphis, but not nearly to the degree I experienced in Huntsville. I’ve been gone from Huntsville for 7 years now, but the last time I was there I had several people stop me and ask if I am still in Memphis. I called an E-bay listing about a used car a few months ago with the area code 256 (north Alabama). When the guy asked for my name he said “are you the same guy who used to be on Channel 19?”
That’s amazing to me. But it is a testament to that station’s committment to the community and to getting their people involved in the community.
I miss that. Playing golf in the tournament yesterday I thought about the annual Huntsville Classic Golf Tournament that benefits Huntsville Hosptial. It was the best tournament I have ever been part of and I always looked forward to being around those folks and playing golf at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Hampton Cove.
I don’t know that they still hold that tournament, but it could be used by any company or city as an example of a good community event to raise money for such an important part of the community.
I’ve said before I don’t necessarily miss “local tv news”. I do miss local tv news in Huntsville.