Thursday, June 27, 2019


I'm getting tired of writing about work friends who have left us.  A man who was probably one of my closest friends in the television news business died this week.  Bruce Lindsay was a larger than life personality who ran the assignment desk at WDAF in Kansas City for years. 

Bruce and I started at WDAF at about the same time.  He was older and knew the city like the back of his hand.  His contacts with local law enforcement were the stuff of legend.  Bruce broke more big stories thanks to those contacts than anybody I ever worked with in K.C.  If something was in the air Bruce would say, let me use the source-o-phone and make a call.
Bruce was wise enough to know who was answering calls on the detectives desk at KCPD and would have me make the call for him if it was someone who didn't like him.  He would advise me as how to talk to the detective and more often than not the result was a story.  I know he pissed off somebody at the department for the information he got about legendary Kansas City serial killer, Bob Berdella.

Bruce and I spent a lot of after work hours together listening to jazz.  We would go somewhere for live music or hit a popular bar with an incredible collection of jazz records for a beer.  Milton's Tap Room was a one of kind place for a one of a kind man like Bruce.  

Bruce loved his guns.  He collected them, lots of them.  He brought them to work when he shouldn't have.  I think his love of guns was only topped by his love of music and his three daughters.  

No one put on a show at the assignment desk like Bruce.  He would spout lines from his favorite movies, particularly "Full Metal Jacket," and regale anyone who would listen about his time as a Marine.  If it wasn't for a bad spine I think Bruce would have served 20 in the Corps. 

When I returned to Kansas City after a three year stint in Phoenix, Bruce pulled me aside after I had been back on the job for a couple of months.  He confessed that my re-hire had made him mad.  He thought I was an asshole but he could see that I had changed and was happy that I had come home to Channel 4.  I think it's the nicest thing has anybody ever told me.

Then there were the nicknames.  Bruce had nicknames for everyone, mine, Rink, became Stink or Stink Boy Brown depending on his mood.  Sportscaster Frank Boal became the Boal Weevil, anchor Cynthia Smith was dubbed the News Hawk.  He was indiscriminate with his nicknames and they were always spot on.

During my last couple of years at FOX 4, Bruce and I delighted in terrorizing the new associate producers.  I would whisper to them that Bruce had served time for murder at Brushy Mountain Prison in Tennessee so it was best not to anger him.  Given his usual sour disposition the AP's would take my stories as gospel.  

The last 30 years of his life were unfair.  His woes started with a lawn mower accident that cost him a finger.  His bad back would lead to several medical complications. Those issues led to a whole slew of other problems that didn't make for a life that he deserved. 

Bruce Lindsay was a difficult man who lived a difficult life.  But he brought a joy and an uproar that kept the newsroom alive and humming.  His passion for music will always stay with me, as will the Jazz in the Night poster that he gave me some 30 years ago.  It's sad that he left us probably not knowing how many lives he touched and how many people loved him.


  1. The best tribute anyone can make is to share their fond memories of someone like Bruce with those who didn't know him. Bravo John.

  2. This is perfect, Stink Head Brown! There were times I loved him. There were times I wanted to kill him. There were a lot of times of laughter in between.

    Jana (Blackburn) Calkins

    I was Bo Peep to Bruce. He'd say, "People may think Rinkenbaugh rules the roost, but Bo Peep tends the sheep." He also called me Miss Republic part of the time, as a reference to my time in Junior Miss.

    When we were renovating the newsroom and Bruce was still back on the news desk, Jennifer Lindsey would beg you, "Rink, poke the stick at the bear!" Then you would call him up while we watched him on camera and you'd start needling him and get him to yell and gesticulate that he was going to kill you. I'm not sure it seems funny in black and white now, but it was hysterical in the moment.

    Thanks for this tribute to our long-time friend and colleague.

  3. What a tribute, Rink. I didn't know him but I'm glad I heard about him. Thanks.

  4. Very well written John! He was one of a kind! ~Mike Thompson

  5. Terrible news but a wonderful tribute to a helluva newsman. Always enjoyed being with him. Always knew he kicked a lot of ass and broke a ton of stories on the desk. Thank you, Rink for this. - Kris Ketz

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  7. Thank you Rink for the wonderful tribute to Dad, and to everyone for your heartfelt comments. Dad was one-of-a-kind to be sure, and the most...colorful character I've ever met. This was posted the day after his death, arguably the hardest day of my life. His MS had become so advanced that intubation and artificial life support were the only means left to us, and what little Dad was able to convey towards the end, (and what we later found in his living will) was that he did not want to be kept alive should his health deteriorate to this point. Even now it is almost impossible to believe that he's really gone: surely someone larger than life like Bruce couldn't be gone. But he is. I know he was difficult at the best of times, (great word choice truly) but I also know that despite his myriad illnesses and internal struggles, he truly loved working with all of you and if you were fortunate enough to garner at least one nickname, (I would know as my sisters and I each have at least a dozen) Dad though you were pretty damn cool. Thank you all.

  8. This is Meredith "Little Crab" by the way. Didn't show up under my name but I'm the middle daughter, and arguably gave Dad the most crap. ;)