Last Wednesday, September 15, was my 30th anniversary at WTAP.
Rather than go into detail about that...and because my thoughts aren't that much different than they were five years ago...I thought I would publish a commentary I made on my 25th anniversary in 2005 which...then and now...sums up my feelings about the "business" and how it's changed (for all of us) over the past now-more-than-a-quarter-century.
I've been asked increasingly lately..."how long have you been at WTAP?"
Well, I publicly have the awnser.
As of this week, I have been at the station for 25 (now 30) years.
In this day and age, that's a long time to be in one place, particularly in the broadcasting business. It's also a long time in terms of what has happened in this area, the nation and the world.
As we've been reminded again this week with yet another plant closing, and a former downtown business landmark up for sale, the Mid-Ohio Valley is a much different place economically than it was in 1980.
One of the first stories that I reported here was a planned development near interstate 77 in Marietta. I stood, on-camera, in an empty field where now, there's a department store, a restaurant and two motels.
Yes, I have covered more than my share of tragedy. I missed the Pleasants Power Station cooling tower disaster by two years. but I extensively reported from the scene of the Shell Chemical Plant explosion where three workers died.
But some of the biggest changes i've seen involve the business I work in every day. in 1980, much of television was still defined by what was seen, in entertainment or otherwise, on three broadcast networks. CNN, which skeptics were then calling "chicken noodle news", went on the air just a few months before I arrived here.
Now, close to 80 channels broadcast a wide variety of programming, ranging from various forms of entertainment to news, sports, weather and both government and courtroom proceedings. And that's just on basic cable.
Ironically, that's made what we do at this station more important.
We're the only station which primarily broadcasts local news...meaning news of Parkersburg, Marietta and the surrounding area. and in the past fifteen years, thanks to expansion of our staff and facilities, we're airing more local news than ever.
I've been proud to be part of that process...and I hope to continue to be part of it in the future.
There's one thing I would add to the last words of that commentary five years ago.
During last week's tornado disaster in Wood, Pleasants and Athens counties, I was approached by someone who was disappointed that it received hardly any coverage on the national news.
The probable reason was that there were also tornadoes that night in the New York City area. When it comes to national news, it seems "the Big Apple" always overrides everything else. He agreed.
I honestly don't know if, say, The Weather Channel had much to say about what happened in our area last week. If it's anything like the past, the TWC people probably said there were "tornadoes reported in Parkersburg, West Virginia". As we all know, Parkersburg (as well as Marietta, Vienna, Belpre, and any of the local cities) wasn't affected at all. The tornado in question was in Belleville, roughly 20 miles away.
It's a reason local broadcasting needs to continue...and thrive.