Welcome to the JDog Blog.
This is my first concerted effort to do a blog, so I would imagine it could be interesting to see what I end up doing here; I know I can’t wait to find out. I want to start all of this by expressing gratitude to a number of people who played a part in my career and getting to this point. Let’s start at the beginning, in chronological order (remember, I’ve been in the business for forty years, so this is not a short list).
The Start of My Career
I started in radio at age 16 at WIBU in Poynette, WI. Dan Harms, Dean Sherwood, Fred Cook and George Coburn were responsible for that happening and giving me my first taste of news. Dan was my English/Drama teacher at Poynette High School. He was friends with Dean, who was the program director at WIBU/WLVE-FM. Dan recommended me when Dean said he was looking for a weekend announcer in 1978. Sherwood hired me after an audition and turned me over to the tutelage of the late Fred Cook, a veteran radio guy who went far beyond the call of duty to teach me the many tasks and responsibilities of the job. His teaching allowed me to get off to a good start and gave me the confidence to ask about covering news. WIBU’s George Coburn then became my first news director. The late, longtime local radio figure taught me how to report and write broadcast news. My deepest gratitude to those four men, who not only gave me a start, but instilled in me a passion and professionalism that I still draw upon today.
On to TV
Thanks next to Paul Smith and Bill Hoel, two more radio veterans who helped me to improve my work when I worked for them in La Crosse in the early 1980’s. A few years later, I was working in Milwaukee, where I met News12 anchor Dan Lewis, who arranged for me to make a TV audition tape that got me my first television job, at WAOW in Wausau, WI. One thing that stood out to me right away was how many more people I had to rely on to do my job in television. Before the robots came in, there were dozens of people on staff in news and production. That number has shrunk significantly, although not as much as radio. Fast-forward to our next note of gratitude, which goes to former KRON-TV assistant news director, Chris Lee. In 2002, he was actually in command because the news director was on maternity leave. And, he made the call to hire me as a freelance reporter, leading to the priceless experience of being a general assignment reporter in the San Francisco Bay area. Cautionary tale: I didn’t meet the actual news director until several weeks later. I was on location getting ready to do a live report when a young woman in overalls walks up and starts to give my photographer some verbal hassle. I stepped in to ‘have his back’ when he starts laughing as she turns to me, smiles and says, “hi, I’m Stacy Owen, your boss”. To this day, I’m feel relieved when I realize how close I was to saying something dismissive to what appeared to be a pesky critic.
As time went on, I had the opportunity to work with some awesome and some loathsome (we’ll get to them in later JDogBlogs) people in local TV. I thank them all for the experiences they shared with me; I like to think I learned something from everyone… even if I didn’t realize it until later. Thanks also to my wife and son for their support in this effort (she came up with the company name, he designed the logo). And finally, thanks in advance to those of you who decide to follow this. Don’t hesitate to send a question or message via our Contact portal.
Next time: a bar exam for journalists.