Conviently, for one of our former anchors, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, falls on a Saturday this year.
Mike McNamara not only was born on St. Patrick's Day, he got married on that day as well. And this year, his birthday is a milestone. He turns 65.
I haven't seen much of "Mac" in recent years. He moved to Indiana a few years ago. But viewers remember him from his years as an anchor at WTAP from 1996-2000. In fact, he replaced John Fortney, who, as you know, just became our news director.
He was very valuable to us during those years when news broke in Noble County, Ohio, where Mike lived for years.
One of those times was in 1998, when a major thunderstorm struck the area on a Saturday night in late June. No one escaped it unscathed, but Noble County was one of the hardest hit areas, in both deaths and major flooding.
Mike was our "eyes and ears" to what was going on in that area in the days following that storm. Our coverage won an Associated Press award for that year.
I also remembered his coverage of a lesser-although no less interesting-story.
A man was found in a cave in one of the county's most rural areas-he, perhaps, had been there for years. Why do I remember this? Because Mike did an on-camera interview with then-Noble County Sheriff Landon Smith, someone who was notorious for avoiding TV interviews. He also covered a tragedy on Labor Day of 2000, when a man killed several members of his family, before turning the gun on himself.
In all these cases, his contacts in the community gave us an advantage.
Mike left WTAP in 2001, and joined the faculty at Marietta College. (He had broadcast Pioneer sports-notably baseball-for years.) But he helped us remain on the cable system in the Caldwell area, when the cable company there considered removing us from its system.
I have a feeling he'll be celebrating Saturday for several reasons: his birthday, his anniversary, St. Patrick's Day...and because, as I am writing this, our alma mater, Ohio University, has just upset Michigan in the NCAA tournament.
Happy birthday to "the Macster" from "Kirker", "Jim-Bob-way", and, of course, "Toddo"!
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