Thinking About Dick Clark

By: Michael Riddle
By: Michael Riddle

It was said to read about the news flash about the death of Dick Clark yesterday. For all of his accomplishments, he was first and foremost a local broadcaster.

It was said to read about the news flash about the death of Dick Clark yesterday. For all of his accomplishments, he was first and foremost a local broadcaster.

He and I had a chance to reminisce about that several years ago. He was working at the Columbia Television booth the year that he was set to launch a new talk show with Tempestt Bledsoe. When I approached him I mentioned that I had started in radio as a teenager, like him, at WRUN radio in Utica, New York. He laughed and said, "Oh my, my uncle had me sweeping the floors there when I was 14-years-old!"

Dick Clark was born outside of New York City, but he moved upstate when his father took the job as General Sales Manager at the radio station run by Dick's uncle. He started work there as a teenager, graduated from Syracuse University and returned to Utica to begin his career as a news anchor at the local station. Unfortunately, since I was just a toddler, I have no memories of his work as a news anchor, but I did hear him explain how he maintained eye contact with the camera in the pre-teleprompter days. One night on Tom Snyder's overnight show Clark explained that as a news anchor in the early 1950's he would read the scripts into a tape recorder and then put an earplug into his ear, tuck the recorder under the desk and hit the play button when he needed to read a script. He had the ability to hear himself reading the script into his ear and then repeat it all word-for-word while maintaining eye contact with the camera.

After a couple of years a job opportunity in Philadelphia came along, and as they say, the rest is history.

I had a great conversation that day with Dick Clark and his wife; they were gracious, friendly and made me feel like we had known each other for year. He was a legend that will surely be missed.

 

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