More Reminiscences: My First Real Job.
My first job – that is, my first real job – was at a television station in Hartford, Connecticut. I was nineteen and regrouping after a brief and spectacularly unsuccessful experience at the University of Colorado, when, miraculously, I was offered a job as Floor Manager at the local NBC affiliate, WKNB-TV.
To be quite accurate, I did indeed work on the floor of the TV studio during live telecasts for about half of the day; the rest of the time, I was officially the station’s messenger, picking up news film at the railroad station, taking the Chief Engineer’s pants to the dry cleaners . . . important stuff like that.
But I lived for the work in the studio. There was Digest, for instance—an hour-long show every weekday morning from 9:00 to 10:00. As the name implied, it was a mishmash … something for everyone. There was a cooking segment which took place in the kitchen built into one corner of the studio; there was something for the kids: Ralph Kanna “and his little puppet friend, Fuzz”; there were one or two guests on most days, who were interviewed by an attractive blond lady named Carol Something-or-Other. Halfway through the show there was a brief newscast and, of course, there were occasional commercial breaks.
But this was 1956 and before videotape. That meant if something wasn’t on 16mm film, it was live!There were dozens of live commercials throughout the day and evening hours. For instance, we’d roll a car into the studio and light it while one of the staff announcers scribbled the script onto a big sheet of paper. With 30 seconds to “live”, I’d hold it up next to the camera and wait until I heard the voice of director Jerry Moring in my headphones: “Cue Al!” Al Kennedy would read the copy, finish up gazing in admiration at the car, and Moring would say, “Go to black”. Minutes later, the car was gone and we were setting up for whatever came next.
It was great fun. And everyone concerned had to damn well stay sharp, because if you screwed up, thousands of people throughout central Connecticut would see it.
It’s still my all time favorite job. It paid $40 a week.