Atlantic City New Jersey, World’s Favorite Playground and my second job in television. After 10 months at KQTV in St. Joseph, Missouri I was now headed home. I started to write this particular blog about a half dozen times trying to figure how to cram some of the most unique experiences I’ve had in television into one blog. A book yes, a blog no. So I’ll start by skimming the surface.
I started at WMGM-TV 40, the NBC affiliate in South Jersey, in late June of 1990. I was now making a whopping $16,000 as weekend anchor (I’d get a raise to $19,000 a few months later when I was promoted to 11 p.m. weeknight anchor.)
I can say without a doubt there is no small market in television that offered such a wide range of news to cover! From the glitz and excitement of the casinos to the grit and crime of the city itself to the experience of living in a bustling beach resort in the summer and a desolate barrier island in the winter this place was awesome.
Understand my time in Atlantic City came at the end of a golden era of sorts. It was before the internet started and when not everyone had cable, a time when people relied on the local station for local news like never before. As a result the casinos were phenomenal to deal with in part because their workers were our audience and in part because our audience represented the people who could see a story on a headliner at 6 and be there for the show later that night. As a result, with the exception of Frank Sinatra, they made just about every headliner available to us.
As I look up at the above montage of pictures there’s a story behind each one of them.
*There’s Steve Allen, the first host of the Tonight Show who went head to head with Ed Sullivan back in the day talking about the news that week in 1993 that David Letterman was leaving NBC to go head to head with Jay Leno.
*There’s Al Sharpton on set in his more radical days talking about his plans in 1990 to shut down the A.C. Expressway the next morning to protest the lack of recreational activities for kids.
*I interviewed the legendary Jimmy Stewart April 4, 1991 and as I walked into the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City my news director was waiting for me outside. He wanted to tell me the news he just learned that Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz, who I knew and almost went to work for, was just killed in a plane crash.
*I did my interview with Paul Anka and after we were done we were talking about legendary songwriter Sammy Cahn (also pictured) who had just died. We were talking about how Sammy wrote Three Coins in a Fountain. He said “did you ever hear the story of how I wrote My Way for Sinatra?” We fired up the camera again and captured the great story.
I’ll share that story down the road and the other tales and experiences I had in South Jersey especially with Tony Bennett, Merv Griffin, Donald Trump and others.
Joe Bisicchia, John Kosich, Lisa Johnson, Megan Lopez