June 9, 1981… I’m sitting with nine rising college seniors in the office of the news director of KDFW-TV in Dallas. We’re there to start our summer news internship. He’s going around the room, asking each of us what we envision for a career. When it’s my turn, I say, “I really want to be in sports, but you didn’t have that internship here.”
Bob Henry stands up, says to the others, ‘Excuse us,’ and takes me across the open newsroom to the small cubicle of the sports director. “Find something for this kid to do the next 10 weeks,” he says. The sports director looks at me and replies, “OK, but I’m leaving this afternoon for Milwaukee, so you’ll have to wait. Oh, and see that pretty woman out there? She’s mine. Stay away.”
I recall the next day clearly, because Major League Baseball went on strike. When he returned, the sports director asked me what I knew about sports. I brain-dumped a whole lot of trivia… and told him I’d had a sports internship in Austin at ‘the worst television station in Texas.’ I mentioned that because of limited resources, I got to do everything and learned how to edit videotape highlights.
A few weeks later, he went out of town again and asked me to pick him up at Love Field when he returned. I lived in Fort Worth and wasn’t all that familiar with the Dallas airport area. On the way back to our downtown TV station, I got lost. So we spent an hour in the car… talking and getting to know each other. That 33-year-old man and this 21-year-old kid became fast friends.
The summer passed quickly, the internship went well, and my last day arrived. A few hours before Live at Five, he said, “I’d like you to be my sports producer.” I said: “That would be great. I graduate in May.” He said, “The job won’t be here in May, I need you now.”
That evening, he spoke to my parents and told them he would ensure I’d graduate… and the next morning I drove to Austin to meet with the Dean of the Journalism School, written job offer in hand. “We’re here to educate and prepare you for a career. Seems we did that.” UT waved the ‘last 24 hours must be taken on campus’ rule and I went to work on Labor Day 1981 – making $5.05 per hour. It was a blast… and I learned so much from him.
On June 12, 1982, I was Best Man at the wedding of the sports director and the pretty woman. He worked there another year, got fired, and moved across town a week later to WFAA. There he found fame by airing strong opinions on sports and injustices of the world.
Fast-forward four decades to the day from that first meeting. He’s retiring in a few months. Congratulations to you and Chris for a well-earned rest – and thank you for taking a chance on me, Dale Hansen.