How ‘Mickey Mouse’ Almost Got Me Fired From Radio!
When one looks back at a career, moments from the past come to mind that definitely shaped the direction one goes. Such is the case with me. When I first came to Quincy, I was hired by Lee Enterprises, Inc., owner of WTAD Radio and KHQA-TV on the 10th floor of the W.C.U. Building. I actually worked on WTAD which was located on the same floor as KHQA-TV. I was 27 years young, worked there for some 6 months and was stupid.
At that time, TV was changing over from reading hand held news scripts on the air to using a teleprompter which placed the words on the camera lens. In 1978, Gene Hoenes was the anchor person and Gene struggled with the transition.
For some reason, reading the words on the camera was challenging compared to reading off a typed script. Eventually, he became comfortable with it, but Gene typed everything he read before he went on the air. This is where the stupid part of me came in.
I talked the camera/teleprompter person, Reggie Coleman, to alter the script Gene was about to read from "Good evening, I'm Gene Hoenes with Channel 7 News" to "Good evening, I'm Mickey Mouse with Channel 7 News." Definitely a juvenile move on my part.
So the plan was in action and we waited for 6 o'clock to arrive. When it did, I sat in front of the TV outside the studio and watched the news open and there was Gene reading off the teleprompter, "Good evening, I'm Mick...ah......Gene Hoenes with Channel 7 News". I thought I was going to die laughing. Then I thought he was going to kill me.
In retrospect, I thank God that Gene didn't read the words "Mickey Mouse" on the air. I would have been fired on the spot. But being stupid at the time, I never even considered the consequences.
My quest for a laugh then has made me so much wiser today. It's funny how just one incident in the past, albeit 40 years ago, almost took me down a different path. Only God knows where I would be today!