My Passion

My passion has always been "STORYTELLING"

This site I created out of passion, optimism and a love of storytelling. It has been a long journey to come to this place. During my lifetime I have always been an employee, sometimes a very highly paid employee (at the height of my career as a TV network affiliate news anchor), but not as a car hop for an A&W rootbeer chain when I was in college. During my adult years I have been happy in that role. I loved anchoring the news, producing my own radio and TV talk shows and teaching college classes. My last job was teaching writing for Daytona State College. I had also been teaching those classes for Seminole State College. Then I was stricken with severe stennois. I continued to teach for a semester using a wheelchair to go from one class to another. It became difficult, and I was in pain. I underwent three surgeries and took large amounts of pain pills. I didn't think my life would return to what it had been. Then a surgery in the spring of 2013 changed that. It took ten months for me to fully recover, but then I asked myself "what now?" My husband continues to work full-time in his own business. Retirement was never in my vocabulary. I wanted to work again and not in just any job but to do work that I could pursue with passion. There were false starts. Being in my 70's I am not in demand in television. Talk radio currently involves buying the time and then selling sponsorships. Too much work! The teaching positions I had held were now held by other people. The Orlando Sentinel had no interest in my resuming my column Changing Places. I was bored and frustrated. What then? I love storytelling. That has been the constant whether I was attempting to do this in an interview on radio or TV or trying to teach students to tell stories. So now I have a company. I own a business Carole Nelson Biographies. With the help of an editor/shooter I give people the chance to tell their life stories. First is the pre-interview. Here someone is summing up his or her life. How do you do that in 45 minutes to an hour? It involves trust first of all.There must be trust that we will tell the story you want to tell. You can dwell on some years and leave out some events you don't want to share. Don't think your story is interesting enough? All stories are interesting. Think of your children, your grandchildren and all the generations that will come after. You can tell the stories of your childhood, introduce them to your parents and their parents, to the stories that are passed down from one generation to the next, unless they are not, unless they are lost. This is you telling your life story as you saw it, as you see it now. This is not someone else writing your biography,nor is it someone writing your obituary. We show your pictures and identify the people in them. We will include your old home movies or videos, pictures of your most treasured possessions, and we put this to music. We will not only show you talking about your life; we will show video of you doing activities in your daily life.

And so the next chapter of my life starts. This is the first time I am my own boss. The final decisions rest with me although I have a marvelous shooter/editor who helps me produce these stories. I am convinced the timing is right. John Nesbitt wrote in Megatrends that as technology evolves so does nostalgia. What is it that people grab on their way out the door during a home emergency? They grab their scrapbooks,their pictures, their videos. These are all here in one place. I will share stories on this site if people allow me to do so. After all, this is a highly personal undertaking. Some people will choose to keep their lives private; others may want us to post their lives on Youtube or provide links on the Internet for friends and families to share. I started this site when I was in the middle of writing a memoir. I have wanted to write about being one in a series of firsts in Central Florida: first female to "be allowed" to anchor an evening newscast, third in the state, but also first female radio talk show host, first TV talk show host, first female radio news director. Even more than that I wanted to write about being a member of the Silent Generation. I grew up in Rutland, Vermont wanting to be only a wife and mother. Having a career never entered my mind. Mom, God, apple pie and oh yes virginity were tops in the list of importance. What a ride it has been then! A life of adventures and challenges I could never have dreamed of in Rutland, Vermont. But oh how the values changed and what do you do with that?The memoir is unfinished in the same pile with four other manuscripts. This site was to be the beginning of the memoir, starting with the TV years. It is my story as I choose to tell it. If you like this site, the writings I post here and the video clips that will appear here of the people whose lives I have attempted to capture, please urge others to visit this site.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Storytelling beginning

The first ten years of my life were chaotic. My parents separated after years of late night quarreling and my mother's frequent sobbing. They were very different. She had been an only child doted on by her parents leading a very sheltered life in a small Vermont town. My dad was handsome, a drinker and a player. He was turn heads handsome. When my mother met him he had a  gaggle of girlfriends. He was smitten with the shy pretty hazel eyed girl with dimples and curly hair. My dad worked for his father who ran a very successful dry cleaning business, a pick and up and delivery business that covered most of southern Vermont. He drove a truck "Brown and Sons We Keep the Spots", He kept late hours and my mother discovered soon after marrying him that part of the late hours included partying. Once my sister and I were born it was her job to bring us up. If we had been boys he would have taken on much of that role. He came home after a few months. I overheard my mother tell a friend she wasn't sure if he had wanted to or if his father had "shamed" him into coming back/ the quarreling continued. I hid. I didn't like the quarreling and watching my sad mother. I crawled into a closet in my room and tried to make myself invisible. I wet the bed; my father yanked me out sleep and spanked me. I walked in my sleep, sometimes  one of them  found me outside.
 I love stories. That was my salvation. When my mother didn't know what I was doing in my room she would holler up the stairs " Carole,what are you doing up there?" My answer was simple. When I was little I told her " I am upstairs with Mary Ann 'making on to believe". I loved going to the movies with my Aunt Margaret. She would take me to the Paramount Theater or the Grand Theatre: I would wiggle down into the seat and let myself be up there on the screen.
 I was a lousy student in elementary school but in junior high I blossomed. Teachers discovered I was a good writer. I read Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins, and Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales. I would walk up the street to my grandmother's. I would sit on the floor at her feet. While she went through my hair with a fine comb looking for dandruff I read Grimm's Fairy Tales out loud. My favorite book, however, was Boxcar Kids. I spun many fantasies about living in a box car with a few friends, orange crates as tables, sleeping on the floor. Every night someone closed the big door and we were inside safe. Later I would transfer my love of storytelling to acting, majoring in it in college. I had a twenty five year career in TV and radio seeking out people's stories or as much of their stories as I could cram into interviews. I wrote columns for The Orlando Sentinel and later Senior Scene magazine.
In 1985 I wrote a book. It has been one of my biggest regrets. The book that was published was not the book I had intended to write. The publisher left out entire chapters and added chapters. Some parts she added without my knowledge. I took a lot of deserved knocks for that one. I think the first life stories I became interested in were those in my family. I believe that we learn from going back to events in our own lives to see what if anything we have learned. Has it been a journey with a destination? Then I discovered my grandmother's story which shocked me. It prompted me to  begin to write an historical novel about a young woman raped on her 21st birthday and forced to marry her rapist. They were married over fifty years. I had to tell that story. Then there was my mother's story. She was so different in personality I doubted that we were alike in any way. I was wrong. In fact, I have gone back and researched and wrote my great grand mother's, grandmother's and mother's journeys. I can see so many traits that came down through the years. So now I am telling other people's stories using video, pictures, old films, music. Someone told me that when I meet a person I seem to launch into an interview. I suppose that person is correct. I love people's stories. It is not a bad passion to have.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Channel 6 – sheriff
It is fair to say that WDBO was where my love of radio news and talk radio began. In 2008, the end of my media career when the plug was pulled, it was conducting radio interviews that I missed.. I became known for being a news anchor (the first to anchor an evening newscast in Orlando and one of the first in the state)  but I enjoyed my tenure in radio more than that in TV. Part of it is that when I left WDBO to go to Channel 9 I was hired as an anchor not a reporter. Even reporters in TV who work to become anchors miss being out on the street in the thick of things being where the action is. I take that back. Maybe there are TV reporters who never felt that way, seeing reporting as simply a stepping stone to the more glamorous job of TV anchor.

              Once I became somewhat accustomed to the pace of radio reporting, learning how to multli-task, to write stories, to report stories, to investigate  stories I was hooked. However, every night after anchoring or reporting during the six o’clock news as I drove up I-4 to Sanford I was still high on adrenalin; a few hours later I would be in bed only an hour or so after the boys .

The stories were fascinating. One of them that I did not discover but which soon after it became public was lead story of many newscast, s the story of the Orange County Sheriff’s department’s black box. The box was not designed to be ominous. It was to house money needed for deputies to cover investigations. But then something changed. Who changed it  and for what purpose became such a big story that eventually “heads rolled”. There were charges of embezzlement, then money used not for investigations but to buy cocaine. There was a list that seemed to lay at the heart of the story, a list of prominent Central Florida businessmen drawn up apparently for blackmail. It was an ugly story and when it was uncovered it shook Sheriff Mel Coleman to his core. It became a black mark on the department. Many thought the story never was investigated as thoroughly as it should have been. I remember at one point showing up at headquarters and asking to speak to the Sheriff, an appointment made in advance. Once the story came to light reporters from radio, TV and print were on it “Like white on rice”. The person I first spoke to was as intimidating as any person I have ever met. Lee Mccherrin was the chief deputy. He met me at the door; he was polite but not friendly. In fact, it would not be an overstatement to say he was as cold as ice. Lee was a towering figure of six feet plus with icy blue eyes and blonde hair, His questions were curt and demanded immediate reply. He was the Aryan stereotype of  law enforcement. I knew he was an upholder of the law, but had I been casting a movie about the Gestopo he would have been at the top of the list. Eventually he went to prison although I am not sure on what charges.. You can imagine my surprise then when he called me at home during the time I was anchoring and interviewing for Channel Six. He would be open to an interview now that he had been released from prison. Was I interested. Of course, I was. The one stipulation was that the interview not take place at the station. He came to my house one spring afternoon. Leigh McCherin was a changed man.He wore casual clothes’ he kept addressing me as “mam”. He was so soft spoken that at times I had to ask him to speak louder. I do not remember all the details of the interview. It was an interview of repentance. By this time in my career, I had learned that when someone agreed to an interview that person usually had “something to sell”. It could be a book, an album, a movie, support for a cause or his candidacy. I wondered what if any hidden agenda Lee Mccherin had. Apparently none. The interview aired but that was the last I saw of Leigh

Mceacherin. If he wanted the interview to accomplish something other than for viewers to see a changed persona I have no idea what it was.   

By Elaine Bennett of The Sentinel Staff, October 4, 1985

Leigh O. McEachern, a former Orange County chief deputy, was sentenced to 60 days in jail Thursday after he pleaded guilty in Seminole County Court to a worthless check charge.McEachern, 48, of 1255 Snow Hill Road, Chuluota, also was sentenced to concurrent one-year terms of probation after pleading no contest to two charges of obtaining property with a worthless check.A third check charge was dropped.McEachern was convicted in 1980 of stealing up to $200,000 from the Orange County Sheriff's Office investigative fund during the six years he served as chief deputy to Sheriff Mel Colman.

By Sara Roen of The Sentinel Staff, August 1, 1985

Former Orange County chief deputy Leigh O. McEachern, paroled two years ago from prison, has been ordered to appear in court next week on a worthless- check charge.He is scheduled to appear Monday in Seminole County Court.Meanwhile, probation officials in Seminole County have recommended that the state parole board charge McEachern with violating his parole, which is scheduled to end Aug. 9.If that happens, he could be ordered to complete his 10-year prison sentence, said Ed Bedell, a parole supervisor.

By Sara Roen of The Sentinel Staff, August 10, 1985

Former Orange County Chief Deputy Leigh O. McEachern, who was released two years ago from prison, was charged with violating his parole Friday, the day it was to end.McEachern, 48, 1255 Snow Hill Road, Chuluota, surrendered at 11:25 a.m. to officers at the Seminole County jail. He is being held without bond.He is scheduled to appear in county court next week on four misdemeanor charges of issuing worthless checks. The charges were filed by the Seminole County state attorney's office.The state parole commission ordered McEachern's arrest on a recommendation by parole officers who learned of the worthless check charges, investigators said.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Recently the CEO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg spoke up about what she considered unwillingness of women to take on roles of leadership. I don’t agree; I The aspect of leadership women back away from: power. I think that

is particularly true in a field that I worked in for many years, TV. Power and leadership are not always linked. A woman can inspire other women to follow her in a venture but unless there is a contractual agreement that woman has no power over other women or men. Power is something else. Sure there are positions where power means having control of other people’s careers including hiring, promoting and firing.  . To me ,however, what true power means is not just taking what life dishes out but deciding what I want and then doing it. It also means the power to decide on how I want to react to circumstances. I have felt that way even when others would say that I was “down and out”,

The traditional sense of power means I am valued in a relationship or in business. A business doesn’t want to lose me. A significant other doesn’t want to lose me. What follows can be almost a heady feeling of believing that I could control my own destiny. Ah yes but to a point. I was able to exert power in my career in TV without even realizing it at first. The radio station didn’t want to lose me so I could tell them what I wanted and they made it happen. I built that power base without realizing what actions I did that built it. Of course, later that feeling of control of my own destiny took a heavy bruising, but strangely I have never lost that feeling I was steering my own ship even when circumstances seemed to show that wasn’t true; You get fired; You are dumped in a relationship; still it has done well for me. Of course, a lot of it is trying to get in sync with what I think God wants of me. That is not always easy to do and it means realizing that when I did get knocked down it was for a reason and something better was in the offing.

But in 1975 and in the decades to follow how did I build power? At some point I had to realize that it existed. I think many women shirk this; they don’t want to think of having power of any kind. To begin with I was a talented woman reading the news and interviewing. I was at ease in front of the camera and behind the microphone. The FCC demanded stations hire women for on-air and there were no other women around with experience. Yes, larger markets may have had women jockeying for jobs who had experience but not in Orlando. So I took the mantle of Woman at the Helm and ran with it. The next thing that contributed to my power was I was good, at least good enough for other stations (radio in the beginning) that wanted to hire me so my employer had to ante up. WDBO gave me the weekend talk radio and sent me to WDBO TV where they were told to “give me something to do” to make me happy. “What would make you happy?” Brian McFarlane the news director asked very sarcastically. I answered with what seemed to be the next step if I were going to have a career in news. “I would like to anchor the evening news:” Not only did he laugh. He said very emphatically “Orlando will never have a woman anchor the news.’” That did it.
I lived my life facing challenges; I thrived on challenges. A woman whose only goal after her marriage collapsed was to get married again, now wanted to anchor the evening news. It hadn’t been my goal in electronic media. I had wanted to produce and host a talk show, but let’s face it there weren’t any talk shows and TV anchoring was where the money was. I participated in a panel at WDBO TV that taped once a week asking local politicians questions. Very boring and none of the WDBO folks were happy to see me once a week to tape a program. But it was my first taste of power. The second time a station wanted to hire me was very flattering: CBS national news. I was building power. If CBS wanted me I must be good. When I told management I got a salary raise; I never confessed that I couldn’t take the job because I couldn’t uproot little boys and move to a big city with no support. Still I had the feeling I was depositing power in a fund in the same way you might deposit money in a savings account. I knew on some level that someday I would need to use that power.

The third time a station hired me I went. That was Channel Nine. My transition from radio to TV is chronicled elsewhere in this blog but I made a good decision. However, when I left I gave up a lot but not all of the power over my life that I had developed. Mostly, I was an on-looker working but learning, watching and learning and getting better. That has always been the way I have preferred starting a job, no fanfare. Just let me build on a base. All kinds of organizations now called on me to speak to their groups. I accepted every invitation even if it meant time away from my kids, babysitters. I knew I was building on that power base. Besides, strangely none of the male anchors wanted to accept those invitations. I judged beauty contests for five year olds (God forgive me). I was the emcee when the Bob Carr opened. It had to be one of the biggest disasters in grand openings ever but I wasn’t at fault. I will devote a post to it because it is a part of Orlando history and it was a total disaster. Still I was becoming well known. The adage about getting your name out there is true. I was the grand marshal for numerous Christmas parades and rode atop many convertibles waving to the crowds. It bears repeating to say “stardom on a local level” was much easier when there were three stations in town. Cable hadn’t made headway yet with all its choices at noon and 6 o’clock.

One of the things that helped build my power base was embarrassing and yet it made national news. I came out the winner although it didn’t seem like it at the time. When I was in radio I was sent to cover a meeting of city leaders and bankers at the University Club. The Citrus Commission wanted to build an expansion to the Citrus Bowl. They needed money. I showed up with my tape recorder but I was met at the front door by a waitress who told me I couldn’t come in because women were not allowed at the University Club. I admired my news director so much that I was not going to go back to the station without a story. The male reporters and crews were on the front steps having a great time watching me get turned away. Only I didn’t. I pushed her out of the way and walked to the back of the building. Now the cameras and lights of 3 TV stations were focused on me. What to do. I went to the room where the meeting was being. Here were twenty men seated at a long table and Dario Icaradi presiding. He told me I would have to leave. I told him that he would have to bodily kick me out. He walked to the door where I was standing, took me by the elbow and escorted me to the front door. On the way I had my tape recorder turned on. I asked him on tape if he realized he wanted support from all Orlando taxpayers but he was denying a representative of 50% of those women entry to a meeting where this big decision was being made. I also reminded him of the Government in the Sunshine Amendment that said no decisions could be made away from public scrutiny. To tell you the truth I wanted to cry. All I knew was that I was not getting the story I had been sent to get. I got in the news wagon and drove to the station. Jim Martin the news director was waiting for me on the front steps of the station. I was really worried then. When I got out of the car he told me to get into the station quickly because the national news bureaus were on the phone. I became national news; the story ran all over the country. Woman kicked out of my men’s club. That I was a reporter wasn’t really the biggest part of the story. What was? It was a woman that men were kicking out. Score one for the women’s movement and add one more thing to the power base I was building. I was not using my power against one. I was not in a leadership position that meant I held power over other people. I was building power over my career, and thus my life that few people have a chance to do. Shortly after the results of that power play showed up in a couple of ways even though I hadn’t seen it as a power play when it happened.
I wrote a letter to the Orlando Sentinel saying that I wondered what the term University meant if higher learning involved excluding entire groups of people from even entering the front door. I was not alone. Women, blacks and Jews were not allowed in the club either. What followed was a rash of public withdrawals of membership from city council members, county commission members, the mayor of Orlando and a number of highly paid bankers. I am sure they had their memberships re-instated months later but I had exerted power that had results.
A few weeks later a group formed called Arts United, the first group to do fund raising for all the arts and culture groups in Orlando instead of individual fund raisers. There was a two page spread in the Orlando Sentinel showing the faces of the new board. I was outraged. All the work done in the community primarily by women and there was not one woman on the board. Again I wrote a letter to the Orlando Sentinel telling them they should be ashamed of themselves for diminishing the contributions of women who did the real “legwork”. The chairman of the board called me and invited me to his house. I don’t remember the conversation but I do remember I didn’t change my stance. Shortly the board was changed to add women.
For years after women thanked me for opening the doors to women being appointed to many boards corporate as well as non-profit. This use of power didn’t really benefit me other than making a difference in situations where I had high values.

 When I arrived at Channel Nine it took time to build a power base, but I did and when the time came to exert that power I did. And there was a time when that power was used against me, something you have to except if you build a power base. Why don’t more women go after power, recognize it when they have it and then use it when it is really needed, when the rubber hits the road. had high values.
But as they say that is another story. In this case, that is another post.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

CBS calls

In early 1976. CBS called and asked if I would be its stringer for the Southern Governors Conference. Frankly, there was little local interest in a conference held at Disney of the Southern Governors, an event for them to discuss topics of interest that bound them together. The conference took four days. A couple of network reporters showed up with a crew for a few quick soundbites and they were off. The governors held meetings but it was no secret that they were there to have a good time at  where else but the country’s most famous theme park? CBS news told me the information they wanted from the governors on everything from education to growth management. They wanted me to cover all four days.

 I had to hire a babysitter for those four days because as soon as the six o’clock news was over, I changed clothes, grabbed my tape recorder and I was out of there. I did work out an arrangement that the janitor would let me in the building each night around 11’ o’clock. Once in the building I would write a script, cue soundbites to feed to New York and then head for home. That usually meant I wasn’t home until around 1 am. The network paid well but needless to say working double time I was dead on my feet those four days. One of biggest tasks had been to ward off the advances of one of the governors. That governor seemed bent on partying from the time he arrived at Disney. I found out later that this was simply par for the course;It would have been more of a surprise had he not hit on me. The only time I saw him after was several years later on the national news, first for being tried in a courtroom, then going off to jail and then the reformed governer years later ready to adopt a new way of life having seen the error of his ways. Like Leigh Mceachern disappeared from local news this Louisanna governor seemed to disappear from the national news.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


          If my first interview had been an omen of how successful my interviewing career would be it would have been disastrous. There was no special set for the noon news so my interviews were to be done on the six o’clock set. I would sit in one chair and my guest in the seat next to me. The set resembled a large bulky ship. Delivering the news felt a lot like giving a sermon. There were no Teleprompters. Frankly I don’t know if anybody expected much from my interviews.
The first day I invited the owner of a strip club, Club Juana to be my guest. He had begun having his “girls” wrestle in mud. Seminole County didn’t like it. I had to find out from him why. I asked the first question. I think it was something like “When did you start mudwrestling?” Mike Pinter went to answer but he began to choke. He choked and choked. The camera crew seemed stricken. They had never seen anything like this and there had been no interviews before this. He choked throughout the entire interview. He never caught his breath. I finally had to ask the crew on camera to get water. I thought my first interview might arrive DOA.
I asked the questions and I answered the questions.
Both of us were extremely relieved when the interview was over. There would be many times in the years to come when live news and interviews would take me by surprise and I would have to think on my feet very quickly. Perhaps this was my training for that. I continued interviews on that set until Bob Jordan decided that the noon news with Steve Adams doing weather and my doing news and interviews warranted a news set of its own. We got one. It was small but cozy. It did not have the formidable appearance of the traditional news set. Certainly I felt more comfortable and I think my guests did as well. I had no idea that first day of interviewing, that before I left TV and radio news I would have done more than 900 interviews. So many stories and many of them held big surprises. This is what I will share with you. When you set out to attempt to help someone tell his or her story you have no idea what can happen.

Monday, March 4, 2013

This was one of those life altering times when you make a decision that will truly impact the rest of your life. Cliff Pine a friend and an executive at Channel Nine told me at lunch one day at The Hungry Bear that a new news director at Channel Nine wanted to talk to me and that I should give him a call. I did and we met a few days later. Bob Jordan fresh from anchoring the news in Mobile Alabama was the new news director, hired by general manager Walter Windsor.
I will never forget that meeting. At the time the ratings for the news at channel nine were the lowest of the three network affiliates. Bob was going to take the station in a new direction. He talked about his plans and as I listened I became a convert as many would become after me. If you hooked your wagon to a star, in this case Bob, you would go higher than you would have thought possible. His arrival, the dramatic changes in TV news, the growth of Orlando were all happening at the same time. The stars were aligned. Although Bob wanted to hire me to anchor the Good Morning America local “cut in’s, he also wanted me to anchor the noon news. But what really sold me was that he hit my “Sweet Spot”. I was going to do interviews for the noon show and some interviews would air on the evening news. There it was! A chance to have my career grow in the area I loved the most: interviews.
There were certainly arguments against my going. They came from colleagues “Are you kidding? You would give up a job at the number one radio news station in Orlando to work for a station with low ratings where employees in the news division came and go quickly. I would give up being the king pin of this highly radio news operation to go to TV where there are no “serious journalists” they said. I had to process it. I had a few prayers to say. Eventually as always it was the little voice inside that made the decision. Is it a gut feeling? God? My higher self? Who knows? I made the decision and with so much faith in Bob Jordan I took the job for $20 less a week than I was making at radio.
That was a huge factor as a single mother with no current child support who was still living in public subsidized housing in Sanford, Bob wanted me do an audition first. I did on a Sunday night with no teleprompter and a case of nerves. The director of the newscast David Hill who would later became a good friend told me to just relax. On the way home I gave it a lot of thought. I had not done well. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave WDBO to take this job but if I did I wanted it to be my decision not a decision made by Bob Jordan because I was not good enough. I did the second audition. Bob called. The job was mine. On an early October day in 1976 I walked into Malcolm’s Hungry Bear to tell all my fellow newscasters that I would be leaving WDBO to go to Channel Nine. There were audible groans from these men who had become my friends. They were sure I had made a bad decision. I had a week to get ready. In a million years I would have no idea what lay ahead of me. If I had I would not have slept as soundly as I had making up for many hours of lost sleep. My decision would not only change my life but my boys’ lives as well. I have never regretted m decision.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


The summer of 1976 was a busy one not just for me but for all news media. Suddenly Florida politics were in the spotlight. Jimmy Carter’s win in the March primary was considered by politicos as the real turning point in the election of ’76. His unexpected win in Florida was the beginning of his being taken seriously as a candidate for president.

CBS radio news called me in the spring with an offer. Would I be willing to cover the state-wide races and ballot issues in Florida? Would I? Of course. CBS would pay me $75 for each editorial that would air nationally on CBS radio. It was not a straight news piece but my “take” on what was happening state-wide. That meant talking to candidates and political insiders as well as pollsters. It would finally be my take on the issues and candidates that would be my editorial “Florida Election’76.

 I was deep in interviews on whether the “Government in the Sunshine” amendment to the state constitution would be passed. It did and was an historic event for Florida. Although Lawton Chiles was seen as a “shoo-in” for a second term as senator what was the sentiment about the race between the outsider Jimmy Carter and Vice-president Gerald Ford. Would Watergate influence how voters felt?

I would record my editorials in the evening when the studio was quieter. Sometimes I would drive home to Sanford to make dinner for the boys and me and then drive back to the station with the boys in tow so I could record the editorial. I was happy with my job; I had no wish to vie for another job. However, WKIS, WDBO’s news rival called. I went to talk to them. The news director made me an offer, more money a chance to do some co-hosting of talk radio with Gene Burns. I was tempted. The general manager of WDBO was shocked when I submitted my resignation. “What can we do to keep you”, he asked. I couldn’t think of anything off hand except perhaps the chance to anchor TV news. Carl Hallberg immediately made an appointment with WDBO TV’s news director Brian MacFarlane. The interview was dismissive. When I told him that at some point I wanted to anchor an evening newscast he literally laughed at me. “A woman as a co-anchor for nightly news? It will never happen”. He emphasized the word “never”. He did offer me a chance to be part of a news panel that taped a program once a week featuring a newsmaker. I went to WDBO studio every week although I continued to be employed at WDBO radio. The fact was that I had not really given much thought to anchoring the evening news on TV. I had given it some thought but like the WDBO TV news director, I didn’t give it much of a chance of happening.
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Saturday, February 16, 2013



Two years ago Seminole State wanted me to host a program for them featuring authors, artists, musicians. It was going to air on Channel 24 and then 24 went belly up. This is part of that program. The blog is my experience with storytelling ranging from being an actor in theatre when I was a theatre major to radio, TV for both Channels 6 and 9 and then in Seattle where I had my students produce a national public service spot ( one of the most interesting storytelling experiences I had ) as well as producing videos for Washington state , stories of people who had successfully made the transition from welfare to work. One thing that dawned on me is that my life story is one of storytelling in many forms. Today I work with Ed Bookbinder on Video Heritage, peoplel telling their life stories with interviews, pictures, home movies or DVD's, all set to music. I would ask this of you; if you have any video of interviews, newscasts, specials or promos when I was in Orlando TV would you allow me to post them. I have other videos to follow: part of a newscast, an audience show from Channel six and an interview. Please contact me if you have anaything to share All of this is possible because my sister Marlene Rogers has had the patience and taken the time to put this blog together. Thanks Sis!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When people ask me who it was I had interviewed the most often they are often surprised at the answer. It was President Jimmy Carter, but those interviews took place before and after he was president. One of the duties of a radio or TV news director or assignment editor has is to plow through all the press releases of “stories”. These were not the interviews that the newsmen picked up on the police and fire scanners or the news tips that were often the start of great news stories. Press releases are sent for the benefit of someone. There is a hotel opening, a ribbon cutting for a new business, updates on the accomplishments of office holders, a famous personality coming to town, usually to promote a product. Most big newsmakers try to avoid the media not court it. Political candidates have to build a base of power by showing up in towns, villages and cities throughout their district. Think about all those stops you are attempting to build as a base to run for president. No one knew this governor of Georgia. We dubbed him “the peanut farmer” because that had been his business.  Governors don’t have an easy time of it, especially in states where they had not served. But this is how “the peanut farmer” built his base.. We reporters took turns covering him; it’s your turn today. What was the story? His views on current foreign events. However, his chances of ever becoming president and having any say in international affairs appeared slim to none.

              Governor Carter was pleasant and gracious. He didn’t forget our names or stations we represented. Sometimes as reporters were gathering for the “press conferences, “those of us who didn’t have TV cameras and lights to adjust talked small talk with this man who was going to become our next president. The political campaign we reporters had once dismissed as “his chances are those of a snowball in hell” went into high gear. One of the most interesting events in my storytelling career happened March 9th 1976.

              We know from recent elections how dirty the race for president can become, and certainly there ocassionally times of excitement but not much can beat the spring of 1976 when it came to excitement. This man we journalists(for the most part) had been so quick to dismiss as an outsider, someone with no political base, certainly no experience in foreign policy came out of obscurity to win the Democratic primary and .of course, eventually the presidency. An early win in New Hampshire  made all the politicos sit up and take notice. It had appeared in the very beginning to be a very crowded race but there were several who dropped out before the primary, some who withdrew during the primary, and still others under consideration just flat out declined. Jimmy Carter was smart. In the same way he showed up early and often in the states with the early primaries. At the end his showing in the primaries was so strong and so unexpected that nobody could stop him, not Ted Kennedy, George Wallace or Scoop Jackson. Carter waltzed into the Democratic convention with 40% of the primary votes and ; no other candidate even had percentages in two figures. One northern and western group of Democrats formed an ABC coalition Anybody but Carter. It was based on their belief that as a Southern governor he would be too conservative. It is interesting from the standpoint that once Carter became president he was considered one of the most liberal governors of the 20th century.

              It was the excitement of his unexpected popularity that brought the national media to Florida in March in record numbers. Florida was certainly an early primary but he had already beaten George Wallace in  the south in the mid 70’s where Wallace was very popular. I showed up as one of the local radio reporters. I am sure there were other radio and TV  reporters from Orlando there but it was such a chaotic scene I don’t think we ever ran into each other. National network reporters oh yes!and the networks sent in the big guns. In many cases, they sent their evening anchor or at least a very well versed reporter in politics. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. The networks had all set up elaborate sets complete with  lighting, audio, make-up and an entire support staff of both the technical and the editorial. I was more than a little star struck. My job was to find out what was happening on the floor of the hotel that Jimmy Carter had made his Florida headquarters. This meant the hotel was Carter’s headquarters on March 9th when the results came in. This was not only where the results would come in but this is where Carter would make a speech and regardless of the outcome each network would do an entire roundup based on polling as well as their insight into the stampede this Georgia farmer was creating. I had to get interviews on my tape recorder as well as go out into the parking lot and after making hurried notes give an update each hour on what was happening in the hotbed of this now exciting race for the White House.

              There were security people everywhere. Although I had my credentials every time I went out to the parking lot to send a feed back to the station I had to be frisked leaving and returning. Of course, when it came to putting microphones in the ring when some politico had  a statement to make, this time I couldn’t compete with the thirty or so microphones already in place. I managed somehow to get get close enough so at least I got material they could edit into soundbites back in the newsroom. I looked stupid; I was wearing headsets carrying a tape recorder and aimlessly wandering the room getting a “feel” for what the prognosis was for the  outcome of this very important primary. My batteries gave out. I don’t remember now if I didn’t have any as a backup or my tape recorder simply stopped working. I paniced.

              Earlier that day after Carter had breakfast in his suite all credentialed reporters were asked to meet in the living room of that suite. It was there that we were introduced to Carter’s staff. Someone rattled off their names and exactly what the duties were of each staff member. These were thee go to people. One of the staff found me wandering around the floor obviously frustrated trying to pound my tape recorder into service. My news director Jim Martin would not be happy if I didn’t get the interviews, especially with Carter who maintained his winning rapport with the media by granting short off the cuff interviews to everybody including little local radio reporters. I finally sought out one of the members of the staff, someone I remembered from the early morning brief in. Would he help me? He asked me what I needed. He took my tape recorder and he tried to make it work. No it wasn’t that the batteries were dead. Something else was wrong. Where did I go now?” Come with me” he instructed me. I followed him around; he carried my ailing tape recorder. Finally he tapped one of the network engineers.” This little lady needs help. Do you think you can help her?: Of course, he could all the media wanted to have a good rapport with the staff. I was so thankful.” Barry, you have been so helpful how can I ever thank you?”. He dismissed it but later when I was obviously flustered trying to get interviews, write copy, and run out to the van to send back reports to the station. Barry found me. “You look like you could use some food. Come with me”. He took me to a special section of the floor cordoned off for the staff behind a screen. He brought me a sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink. We are talking high end croissant sandwiches. I was so grateful and just being able to sit down was a blessing. There was no seating available.  Of course, he was kind enough two give me an interview as well. It was clear from the briefing in the morning that he was “a big wig” on the staff. Of course, that night when the returns came in and Carter had  beaten Wallace there was bedlam. This was a huge upset. There are many political observers who said this was the turning point of the 1976 political race. Before I left that night I made sure I gave many thanks to Barry who had really taken care of me and probably pitied this hayseed reporter tossed in with the big boys and yes 95% of the reporters, newspaper, radio and TV were men. Right up until I left whenever he saw he would ask how I was doing,did I need any help. Imagine my surprise then when I saw his picture in the papers the next day. Hamiton Joden, right hand man to candidate Jimmy Carter. For two full days and evenings I had called him Barry and he never corrected me. That mystified me right up to his ascension in the White House as President Carter’s right hand man. The press trashed him. They said he was ego driven, hard partying, with vague references to what have been drug fueled parties. It was two years later that I finally wrote to him in the White House. Why I asked would he allow me to call him the wrong name especially when the press said he was someone with a big ego., A week later the letter arrived in the mail with a White House seal. I don’t have the letter handy. It is buried in a trunk that contains all the promotional material since I started in TV.  Hamilton said that at the time that he met me at the convention I seemed to have more than enough to take care of so he was happy to help me. He closed by saying that if I were to come to Washington he would carry my tape recorder all over the city. I never went to Washington. The media war on Hamilton raged on. Hamilton Jordan was one the most savvy media people in recent history..a champion whiz kid..a political animal

              It was in 1990 when I was doing talk radio in Orlando that I was once again interviewed the peanut farmer now former  President Jimmy Carter now an author and pushing environmental causes. I told him the story about Hamilton which he enjoyed. He told me that one of the regrets that he had when he was in office was how Hamilton was portrayed in the media. He was the nicest guy he said. The stories about his being a big party boy just weren’t true. Hamilton had been the head of the women’s tens federation after his time in Washington;  President Carter told me Hamilton was suffering from cancer. For someone who knew nothing about radio I had learned a lot but I continued to have no manual dexterity. It is the people who don’t have to help you but do anyway without ego even making him call him by the correct name..Hamilton died in 2008 but I won’t forget him or his kindness .

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Big Stories of the 70’s and 80’s

There was an ongoing story on the power of Disney World, power that meant it was so self contained so self governing that even murder stories on Disney property went unreported until Disney had finished its own investigation. There was an ongoing war between the Orange County Sherriff’s department and Disney. It was so acrimonious that during one investigation a war of words almost led to a war of fists. The investigation was ongoing and I am not sure that anyone ever came up with the final answer. How much power did Governor Claude Kirk give Disney to entice them to build Disney World in Florida? As the years since Disney arrived in Central Florida it became more and more evident that Disney was almost a completely self governing entity. There are reporters today who are still gnashing teeth about access to stories unfolding in Disney World. No cameras allowed on premises unless cleared with the PR department. If you were a reporter working on a story you had to check in with PR and then a staff member would follow everywhere you wanted to go. Ignore that directive and see how many roadblocks would be put in your path as you tried to cover that story as well as ensuring stories.

The Rommie Loudd story actually spanned years. At the beginning of the story I was a radio reporter, later as an anchor I watched as the story continued. I think you could say that the Rmmie Loudd story parallels that of Lance Armstrong. A young African American worked his way up from a tough upbringing in a bad neighborhood to becoming a football player whose career finally took him to becoming a linebacker for for the Boston Patriots.

While being a linebacker for them, some may remember this famous episode.

Craziest Fan Interference Ever -
Old Boston Patriots

His path then took him on one that no other African American football player had taken. He became the first full time African American coach for the Patriots and then Director of Personal Development. But Rommie Loudd dreamed big. He wanted to put together a team of investorsi Orlando who would own an NFL franchise. The price tag was way too high. Instead, the investors bought a franchise from the Worldl Football League. The Tangerine Bowl became the home of the Florida Blazers. This is where the story became murky and left not only journalists scrambling for the bigger story but also federal state and local investigators. Many of the investors were Orlando businessmen with spotless reputatons, other investors names were not released and when they finally were released they were those of people whi had criminal backgrounds. Then there were drug fraud and imposter charges. As Rommie Loudd’s dream deteriorated it was replaced by a prison term. In prison he traded his football credentials for that of a prison preacher. It was in 1988 that I interviewed Rommie Loudd newly released from prison in his Central Florida apartment. I don’t remember what he said during the interview, only that here was a different persona, humble, repentant. As often happens, Rommie Loudd disappeared from the media scrutiny. The story of his death in 1988 from diabetes garnered only a small mention if any in the media. All of this was simply part of what radio news was about in the 70’sand 80’s. I am so grateful that I was part of it then before the budget cuts, before hard news gave way to conversations between the morning teams involving rock and music stars. Real news didn’t disappear all at once. Some stations did better at holding on than others. WDBO has been the one that has held on the longest. If I am giving short shrift to other radio news operations I apologize. But back to my transition. I was learning everything I could. I even enjoyed being the talk show host on weekends when calls tended to be more about the best way to cook sauerkraut from scratch to regular callers who just called in because they were part of the crew. Had I lost my interest in telling stories that revolved around people? No. It had simply taken a back seat in my life. But it was the best training I could ever have to what lay ahead. One weekend I received a call at my home in Sanford ( I was still commuting to Orlando). Would I be interested in working for CBS network news. I was so shocked, at such a loss for words (Yes, it did happen occasionally) I could barely hold up my end of the conversation. “Think about it this weekend”, the network executive said. “ I think you would really like working for us. The pay is good. So are the benefits.” He ended the conversation by saying that he would call me the following week and that he would like me to come to New York “to talk” I was shaking when I hung up the phone. I felt like Robert DeNiro in the film where he utters that famous line “ You talkin’ to me?” Had my career really taken such a turn in the road? Now I had to make a decision that even a year ago I had no idea I would be asked to make. Somewhere deep inside of me I knew that regardless of how flattering the offer was..and yes, appealing, I couldn’t accept it. There was no way I could uproot myself and three boys and move to New York where I had no friends or relatives, no support system. The boys would not want to live that far from their father. No, the answer was already forming in my head but I had a weekend in which I could simply savor the temptation.

Friday, February 1, 2013


If someone were to ask you what the most important decisions were in your life, you probably wouldn’t have much trouble listing the big ones: what career path to follow, what college to attend, what person to marry (or not). However, at least in my life, some of the more important decisions were so subtle they hardly seem memorable. It was only when I began this exploration of my life telling stories that I had made at least one that had a significant impact on my life I didn’t even realize I was making.

Certainly, my transition from telling stories through the interviews I had done at Channel 35 was very different from the ones I was covering now as a radio reporter/anchor/talk show host. In addition to the murders, fires and trials. I was also covering issues or trying to. Issues can be much more difficult to make interesting than a breaking story. I think it started when someone at the Orlando Chamber of Commerce pointed out to me that Orange county was paying money it didn’t need to be paying, that the Chamber was already doing and causing the county to waste valuable funds.. Within the Chamber was a division of paid employees whose job it was to court new business for Central Florida. If there is one word that would best describe Central Florida in the 70’s and 80’s it was Growth. Was crime happening? Sure, but it was apparently not as much of a problem or there were fewer crimes. Why? Because 90% of the stories dealt with new companies, hotels, theme parks or theme park expansions. That was why zoning and impact fees became big deals. There was a euphoria in Central Florida; growth meant jobs, an increased tax base and let’s face it just more fun. This was when the term “Sun Belt” became part of our lexicon. “Come on down ( and bring your money with you!)” But Central Florida was not alone in convincing major corporations from pulling up stakes up North and moving where the weather was sunny, there was no income tax and housing was so much less expensive.  Cities throughout the South were wooing the same companies. That is why even though it wasn’t a sexy story it mattered. Was money being wasted if two entities were racking up salaries and expenses finding these companies and doing a “song and dance” to bring them here.       

I ‘worked” the story. This was a term newspaper and radio journalists understood; TV not so much, if all. Newspaper and radio journalists considered themselves serious journalists.  TV journalists with few exceptions were not  even considered journalists. Radio stations took news very seriously. Ratings mattered but so did prestige and WDBO did win in that category. With a morning news hour, a noon newscast and a major newscast at 6 there was a lot of  effort and money put into news. If a reporter was able to break a story, begin an investigative piece listeners took notice. Newspaper and radio journalists not only had mutual respect they often passed on leads to one another. Although WDBO seemed to lead the pack in news other Orlando stations were not far behind and with many events may have been on the air first with a story; in terms of journalists’ credentials, a number of reporters were the reporters with whom I was competing. Bill Bauman who retired a few years ago as General Manager of Channel 2 was the top reporter for WLOF; Adrian Charles (whom I replaced at WDBO was the top reporter at WHOO; Dan Kressler now a psychologist was a fierce competitor at WKIS and Jim Philips now the radio talk show host, but then the news director of WKIS.

Another woman Nicky Sarner joined us “the girls” on the scene of breaking news. We were all friendly collegues but the competition to get the story first was stiff. That was when contacts with the newspaper reporters like Steve Strang who now owns his own Christian broadcasting company was one of those competitors. Greg Gentlemen and Henry Johns who as I recall were both print media were outstanding sleuths. I know there were other fine journalists whom I have overlooked. Blame my age, not my view of them.

In my life there was a slow transition taking place. I was still interested in people but now I was interested in events, especially those that required further investigation. My mentor and news director Jim Martin  was teaching me well. He taught me how to cultivate contacts. He introduced me to people who seemed to have jobs on the lower part of the ladder. Think again! These were the people who knew where the bodies were buried. They could tell  you who was telling the truth and who was spinning yarns. And what about those stories” the powers to be” wanted squashed. If I was lucky squashed didn’t mean dead. Sometimes it felt like detective work. I had to protect my sources. I had to ask the less than obvious questions Big scandales in Central Florida were unfolding. Heads were severed. Make no mistake these were stories many newspapers and radio journalists were working on. Even if they were not my stories I was fascinated watching the other reporters go after these stories like dogs with bones.


Sunday, January 27, 2013



There I was in July of 1974, no job, no child support from an ill ex-husband and in Orlando, where there was no market for talk show hosts.
In 1974 you had to wait three weeks after losing your job to file for unemployment. The boys and I ate a lot of strata, tacos, hamburgers; trips to our favorite eating haunt the Ranch House were on hold.

So what now? I knew that going from hosting a TV talk show at Channel 35 to TV news was a big jump, but I prayed maybe one of the TV stations would hire me. The news directors at channel 9 and channel 2 told me “No, we have our woman”. This was said with no apologies. However, when I called WDBO channel 6, the news director Jim Martin, told me that yes he had an opening and could I come the next day for an audition. Could I?

I spent hours trying to figure out what to wear; it was an important part of being  a career woman; slacks and pants suits were out because they were not considered proper professional attire for a woman ; in fact, at that time  there were restaurants that would not allow women to dine if they wore either. So I needed something professional but not too colorful. I have no idea what I chose.

The next day when I called to confirm and get directions the switch board operator told that there was no Jim Martin at the station. I was in a panic. Was this some kind of hoax? I knew I had heard correctly. After a moment she said, “Oh, I know who you want. Jim Martin is the news director of WDBO “radio”. RADIO?
WDBO was a small somewhat run down building, from which the radio news  considered to be the best in Orlando, emanated. When I met Jim Martin, he was a pleasant no nonsense kind of guy; when he led me into a tiny room adjacent to the studio, I had no idea what this interview would be. He found a small section that wasn't jammed with equipment and asked me to sit down. “What”, he asked,” do you know about radio news?” There was no answer to give other than “nothing”.

He gave me a quick overview. It meant covering all kinds of news stories: fires, murders, robberies, trials and reporting on them quickly and accurately. It meant recording interviews on a tape recorder and sending the interviews back to the station. It meant doing live reports from the scene of a breaking story. It meant transferring tape from a tape recorder to a reel-to-reel machine and then transferring that material to cartridges. It meant doing news at two minutes before the hours, ninety seconds of news which including playing some the cartridges recorded by me or one of the other reporters. It meant doing up-dates at the bottom of every hour if your job was anchoring rather than reporting. It meant at times anchoring a fifteen minute block of news at noon and 6 pm.

My head was spinning. Was this when I should tell him I had no manual dexterity, had never worked with tape, didn't like to drive, especially not fast? I chose to simply listen. He gave me news copy. I was to type these stories into a newscast that could be delivered in ninety seconds.” I’ll give you a chance to do a report at the top of the hour,” he said. I sat down and I typed. To this day I could not tell you what was in that newscast except when I went into the studio to deliver this newscast I  have never been more nervous. He gave me a signal at the exact moment I was to begin reading. I had read fewer than ten sentences when the DJ took over the mic. That was it! The newscast was over.  It would have been hard to comprehend that day that I would deliver newscasts of ninety seconds that contained three stories and a taped interview.The rules were different here.
This was a far cry to the half hour talk shows and   one hour specials with no commercial breaks . That was what I had just left when Channel 35 collapsed.  Of all the things I have done in my life radio news t is one of the challenges that I am the most proud of meeting. I don’t know how I did it, but I learned and I learned fast. I would have no way of knowing that my mistake of thinking I was talking to the news director of a TV station rather than the news director of a radio station would change my life and be the very best thing that could have happened to me. I didn't know that the on-air men DJ’s and newsmen who all had deep bass voices would feel that they were being invaded. A woman at WDBO? What was next pink curtains on the windows in the newsroom? There were no women mentors in my career but there were men who really helped me, knew when I was stumbling but  with some humor helped me to just "keep on truckin". I remember them all fondly the DJ's the late Perry Moore, the late Scott Harris, Clive Thomas, Jim Turner, the newsmen Tom Fallon, Larry Gibson and the man who was one of the finest mentors I had in my entire career, the late Jim Martin. That night I thanked God but it  seemed to me that he had gotten his wires crossed. Of course, that couldn't be right. I had not been clear enough in my prayer. TV TV not radio! God doesn't make mistakes. Landing that job at WDBO was the best thing that could have happened to me.


When I left that day I didn't think I had the job. I didn't know that radio stations were under the gun just like TV stations. They had to have women on the air not just behind the scenes. There weren't many women who knew anything about radio news. Jim Martin probably did not have a large field from which to choose. Had I known that, I might not have been as shocked as I was when he called that night to tell me I had the job.

hadn't even needed to apply for unemployment. That night I took the boys to the Ranch House but the directive remained the same, an ice cream soda or a dessert but not both. I slept better that night than I had in two weeks. To this day I don’t think my sons, my friends, nor  my parents knewhow fearful I had been that I would not be able to be a mother and a career woman.