Monday, May 21, 2007

Never say goodbye.

Tonight I'm going to wax nostalgic for a bit.

You see, here in Middle Tennessee, a unique and special man is leaving the airwaves, signing off after 41 years on the air. Well, maybe he was actually on air somewhere before 1967, but he's been at NewsChannel 5 since 1966. His name is Chris Clark.

Chris Clark has been at Channel 5 ALL MY LIFE. Not that the man is old. He is 68, but he looks like he's got plenty of years left. One of my co-workers said, "I remember when he came to Channel 5." I said, "I don't." Other news reporters have come & gone. The "competition," WSMV, Channel 4, has been home to John Tesh & Pat Sajak. Chris himself hired a young Oprah Winfrey. On the Channel 5 website, it says he is the longest-running anchor in Channel 5 history. Well, DUH! I wonder how many news reporters ANYWHERE have lasted at one station longer than 41 years. Not many, I would wager.

Here is an excerpt (well, most of) the e-mail I sent to Chris:
I was born in Nashville in 1967 & have lived in the Channel 5 Viewing Area
my entire life - in Ridgetop, Goodlettsville, Greenbrier, Clarksville, & Pleasant View. When I was 22 & moved to Madisonville, KY, I was so relieved to see that WTVF was on the local cable!!! My husband can vouch for the fact that when I was homesick, I would watch Channel 5 just to get a little dose of home. (Although I was known to cry at the sight of a Tennessee Pride sausage commercial. Something about tasting the sunrise, I guess.)

Chris, you have been one of the family. Your smiling face entered our living room every night at 6 sharp. When I was starting kindergarten my mom said, "You'll sit at a desk," & immediately I thought of Chris Clark & the news desk at Channel 5. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed when I got to school!

NewsChannel 5 without Chris Clark will be like fries without ketchup & cereal without milk - it'll still be NewsChannel 5 but it won't be the same!!!

Wishing you all life's blessings & especially a long, healthy & happy retirement!

I didn't share the story about my grandparents' dog, Dixie. She used to get excited at 10 pm every night because it was time for her evening treat. Granddaddy swore she could tell time because she would look at the clock. I countered that it was because she recognized Chris Clark's voice over the TV. Maybe we were both right.

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said about this man who has, in my mind, been synonymous with Channel 5 and Nashville news in general. When I was a kid, I thought he was at least as knowledgeable & popular as Walter Cronkite; as a young adult, I realized he was only human & wasn't perfect about everything, but you have to say this for the man - a more dedicated newsman you'll never find. I mean, 41 years at one job! That says it all.

Best wishes, Chris - we'll see you then.

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