My 30 Years at Chan­nel 3

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - David Car­roll News and Notes

Wow, thirty years have gone by. Ear­lier this week, my em­ployer sur­prised me with a nice salute on the thir­ti­eth an­niver­sary of my em­ploy­ment.

When I started work­ing at Chan­nel 3 in 1987, Cindy Sex­ton an­chored the evening news, Paul Barys was Chief Me­te­o­rol­o­gist, Tom Tarzian owned the com­pany, Tom To­lar was gen­eral man­ager, Wayne Jack­son di­rected the evening news, Bobby Win­ders was the “Mr. Fix-It” en­gi­neer, Doug Loveridge and Ken Scott pro­duced com­mer­cials, Deb­bie Walker, Pam Teague, and Janet Garner were run­ning the busi­ness af­fairs, and Lem­mie Thomas was in the mas­ter con­trol room.

I look around now, and those same peo­ple are still on the job. The longevity of many em­ploy­ees is a great tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of an em­ployer.

Still, most of my news­room co-work­ers were not born when I started at WRCB. Back then, we used type­writ­ers, video­tapes, and reams of pa­per. To­day, we are al­most pa­per­less, and the click­ety­clack of the type­writer has been re­placed by the hushed clicks of com­puter key­boards.

In this dig­i­tal world, all of our video is recorded on tiny cards. Th­ese days, when I search for 1980s news footage on our old video cas­settes, my younger col­leagues stare as if I am hold­ing Moses’ stone tablets.

In the 1980s, we cel­e­brated the pur­chase of a $500,000 satel­lite truck, which en­abled us to broad­cast live news sto­ries from any­where in the world, with­out the has­sle of tele­phone lines. Iron­i­cally, we now do those same re­mote broad­casts with a mo­bile tele­phone that costs about $500. Mean­while, that big ol’ satel­lite truck is now a dinosaur that takes up a lot of park­ing space.

Tech­nol­ogy is not the only thing that has changed. When I be­gan cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion, you could walk into any school as if you were en­ter­ing a friend’s house. The front doors were wide open. Po­lice of­fi­cers were seen only on Ca­reer Day. Why would any­one pose a threat to a school?

Sadly, a se­ries of tragedies re­sulted in ur­gent calls for beefedup se­cu­rity. Po­lice of­fi­cers are as­signed to most mid­dle and high school cam­puses. Doors are locked, and re­cently I stood out­side one area school for about five min­utes be­fore I cracked the code on which but­tons to push be­fore I could get per­mis­sion to en­ter.

Once in­side though, I like what I see. In my early days of School Pa­trol, com­put­ers had not yet re­placed out­dated sets of en­cy­clo­pe­dias. The chalky dust of black­boards was in the air. Heat­ing and air units that ac­tu­ally worked were con­sid­ered a lux­ury.

Thank­fully, in most schools, the tech­nol­ogy is now first-rate. Mod­ern white­boards are plen­ti­ful. Most of the an­cient build­ings and their un­re­li­able heaters and air units have been ren­o­vated and re­placed. I will ad­mit though, I miss the creaky wood floors and clas­sic au­di­to­ri­ums of the old days.

In thirty years of re­port­ing news, I have met or cov­ered five pres­i­dents. I have “di­rected” a com­mer­cial with Bob Hope (well, I told him where to stand and what to say, so I guess that’s di­rect­ing). I was in on the early stages of what would be­come the Ten­nessee Aquar­ium. I have re­ported on some en­joy­able ed­u­ca­tion and entertainment sto­ries in New York, Los An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton D.C., and Chicago.

On the other hand, some days have been any­thing but pleas­ant. I have re­ported on hur­ri­cane dam­age in Charleston, South Carolina and tor­nado dam­age in Huntsville, Alabama. I in­ter­viewed folks who rushed to their neigh­bor­hood churches on Septem­ber 11, 2001. They needed a place to mourn and pray.

I saw un­be­liev­able dam­age in Ring­gold, Georgia and Hig­don, Alabama, about five miles from where I grew up, in the af­ter­math of the April 2011 tor­nado out­break. Less than a year later, I wit­nessed more dev­as­ta­tion in the Har­ri­son com­mu­nity of Hamil­ton County.

One quiet sum­mer day in July 2015, I was in the stu­dio as de­tails started trick­ling in about a re­ported shoot­ing at a mil­i­tary re­cruit­ing cen­ter in Chat­tanooga. When our worst fears were con­firmed, that five men lost their lives, it was my duty to in­form the pub­lic.

Six­teen months later, I was called to the scene of a Chat­tanooga school bus crash. Like ev­ery­one else, I hoped the early re­ports of se­ri­ous in­juries were un­true. As you know, it turned out to be worse than any of us could imag­ine. The sight of par­ents and grand­par­ents ar­riv­ing to dis­cover the fates of their ba­bies was heart­break­ing. Our com­mu­nity is still reel­ing from the loss of six chil­dren.

In thirty years of any job, there are highs and lows. I am hon­ored to work for such a good com­pany, with peo­ple I truly love. From the age of 12, my dream was to be a broad­caster. I am still liv­ing the dream, thanks to you.

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, is the author of the new book “Vol­un­teer Bama Dawg,” a col­lec­tion of his best sto­ries, avail­able at Chat­tanoogaRa­, or by send­ing $23 to David Car­roll Book, 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405. You may con­tact David at

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