Growing up, we were a WHAS house. I’m not sure why, and maybe my parents didn’t know either, but when it came to local coverage, that’s where we tuned. The pull of WHAS was so strong that when it swapped network affiliations with WLKY in 1990, we said goodbye to Dan Rather and hello to Peter Jennings for our network news.
For most of my childhood, we had one television with only over-the-air service, so I spent a lot of time watching the news with my parents. The newscasters became familiar parts of my life. When meteorologist Chuck Taylor died in 1997, I sat in the bathtub and cried. When Gary Roedemeier ran in the same road race I did, I fanboyed a little bit. Melissa Swan’s hats are still the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Kentucky Derby.
It’s been fifteen years since I last lived in the Falls Cities, but I can still rattle off the names of people who I never met but they appeared in my living room every night: Fred Wiche, Chuck Olmstead, Doug Proffitt. Rachel Platt, Ken Schulz, Gary Rizzo. When severe weather threatened, as often happens in the Ohio Valley, we trusted Taylor, Schulz, and Rizzo to keep us safe. And on Christmas Eve, I always wanted to watch the 5:00 news because I knew they’d catch Santa on the radar as he headed out to start his deliveries.
As I was driving back to the Falls Cities area over Thanksgiving, I thought about all of those TV personalities. It occurred to me that my kids will never have that experience. Watching the evening news is not a thing that happens in this house. I can get the same news and so much more on-demand. And we don’t need the local TV meteorologist to give us severe weather information because I have RadarScope and a meteorology degree.
I often think about how much of a different world my kids inhabit. Even seemingly trivial things might not be as trivial as I think. How much did my one-way relationship with the folks at WHAS shape my upbringing? How will not having that relationship affect my kids? What will the media landscape look like when they’re my age?