Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back to Kansas City

When I last left off on my dialogue on my never ending professional travels I was living a miserable life in Phoenix, Arizona.  I was drained by the unending colors of brown and beige that desert living brings not to mention the stifling heat.  Mike McDonald wanted me back at WDAF to be his 10 p.m. producer and that seemed like the right move to make.  I would back close to family and around a cast of characters that I had enjoyed working with for about seven years.

My return home came in April 1990.  The city was on the verge of a massive growth spurt that would see southern Overland Park explode with new housing and strip malls galore.  The anchor line up had changed slightly during my absence.  Reigning Kansas City anchor queen Cynthia Smith had given up her chair and a southern belle named Kelly Minton had arrived from Little Rock as her replacement.

A lot of different things had combined to cause WDAF to slip from its number one spot.  The ownership had allowed the ratings grabbing "Oprah" to go to KMBC which immediately delivered them great ratings.  Smith's departure that coincided with the arrival of a new news director all helped cause a ratings slump.

McDonald had left for nearly a year to try and work his magic at KXAS in Dallas.  His replacement, Joyce Reed, who had seen success as a news director in Springfield, Missouri was something of a failure.  I never worked for her so perhaps my criticism is unfair but she earned a reputation as being a first class bitch among my former co-workers.  Without going into the particulars because even I don't know everything that happened, Mike returned to Kansas City in the winter of 1990 where he would rule the roost for another 12 years before heading into semi-retirement.

I only spent a short 15 months back at WDAF as 10 p.m. producer.  I went through some more life changing experiences, some very bad but a lot of it very good for my personal growth.  As badly as I wanted to move up into an EP position at the station it would have to wait.  The ratings weren't moving but I was.  By July 1991 I was on the Kansas Turnpike heading west to Topeka to take my first job as a news director at KSNT, the NBC affiliate.

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