Life As We Know It: November 4, 2013
One of the things that occupy my mind in retirement, other than waking up and wondering what day of the week it happens to be, is recalling the memories, largely pleasant, of my years as host of “The Editors” on television.
TV has never been my natural medium, which is the case for most us whose veins course with printer’s ink. So it was with some nervousness and apprehension that we launched “The Editors” all the way back in 1989. I remember saying I’d stick with it as long as I learned something new each week. We didn’t stop until 2007, making it the longest running public affairs program in the state and probably the Midwest. I attribute that to the wonderful array of guests we coaxed and begged to appear. And yes, I learned something new from them every week.
Friends have been asking if I miss it, and whether I would share some recollections of the good days, the bad days, and the going half-mad days in front of the camera. So here's what I remember.
“The Editors” was taped for its first nine years at the Byrne Road studios of WNWO, Toledo’s NBC affiliate. Then, in 1998, the show moved to public television here at WGTE, with WBGU in Bowling Green adding the program to its lineup as well.
We did “The Editors” more than 800 times. To recall my favorites is difficult because there were so many. But three certainly stand out.
Robert Ballard may not be a household name in some households but he certainly is in mine. Mr. Ballard made one of the most stunning discoveries of all time: he found the Titanic. It was fascinating to listen to him describe his emotions when he saw the ship appear out of the darkness as he descended in his submersible following the discovery.
Second I include a related show featuring two men whose own submersible took them down to the wreckage of the lake freighter Edmund Fitzgerald on the bottom of Lake Superior. That, too, was an emotional half-hour because I had once sailed as a crew member on the “Big Fitz,” and because one of the 29 men who died in the tragedy was my uncle. It was a little spooky to see underwater video of the wreckage and spot passageways I had walked and ladders I’d climbed. Next Sunday, by the way, will mark 38 years since the great ship went down.
Third, I must mention Jamie Farr. He was funny and charming and eager to reminisce about growing up in Toledo, and he was totally at ease talking about the television role, and show, that made him famous: Corporal Maxwell Klinger on M*A*S*H.
Which provides a nice segue for recalling another show and one of the more unpleasant moments on “The Editors.” My guest was Gary Burghoff, a fellow cast member of Jamie’s on M*A*S*H. Mr. Burghoff insisted on bringing his own makeup artist to the set, which is okay I guess, but it had never happened before. One thing we didn't worry about on "The Editors" was makeup. Also, when I began by asking him about his years on the hit TV show, he reacted badly, complaining loudly on the air that he was tired of talking about M*A*S*H.
Since it was M*A*S*H that made “Radar O’Reilly” one of the best known TV characters in the world, I thought it was reasonable to ask about the show and the other actors in that marvelous ensemble. Who knew? The rest of the half-hour had a sharp edge to it that I found uncomfortable.
Those lows were offset many times over by the humility and dignity of George McGovern, the class of space hero John Glenn, the wit of political humorist and Toledo native P.J. O’Rourke, and the charm and insight of National Public Radio’s Juan Williams.
Yes, I do miss those days.