For maybe only the second day since I came to Nashville, I wore a suit and tie to work. I walk in the morning meeting and everyone stopped talking. “Wait” my news director said “Alright….what’s going on?”
I wore the suit and tie, I explained because I needed to go to a funeral. The mother of my good friend Jerry Hayes passed away this week and the funeral was this morning. I hoped that I might be able to arrange my story so I could go.
My attendance at the funeral seemed to be as important to my boss as it was to me. I can’t say how much I appreciate that. I’ve worked in other newsrooms where that might not have been the case.
Jerry Hayes anchors the news at WHNT in Huntsville and is a great guy. His mom died suddenly and I felt it was important for me to give him a hug and let him know that I was thinking of him.
There were several people there from Channel 19. People I didn’t just work with, but are part of a family there. I say that it’s like a family because there’s no other way to explain it. I’ve worked in, what six newsrooms and I’ve never felt the same atmosphere anywhere else.
Nonda, Dan, Marian, Steve, Amy, Greg, Stan all made the trip up to Nashville to be with Jerry. I’ve been gone from there 10 years but yet I still felt like a part of that family. I not only love those people but feel that they love me too.
Maybe the family thing is more evident in smaller market tv stations. Maybe it’s because when I was at WHNT it was during the time in my life when I got married and had my first child. Maybe it is simply the people who work there. But whatever it is, it is rare. Especially in the businesses of television.
There have been only a few places where I felt at home. One is home, where I was reared and lived nearly all of my life. The other was at Carson Newman College where I spent 5 years either going to school or working. But more than at CN and almost as much as my hometown, Huntsville and WHNT was a perfect fit for me. It was where I most felt like I belonged.
I spent only 5 years at WHNT and Huntsville but it seems now like it was much longer. The friends I made there have stayed close to me through the ten years I’ve been gone. And I truly miss the people I got to know through that job.
Actually, thinking about that station and the culture that I found at the other New York Times station, it’s impressive the WHNT people managed to form that family. I’m not suggesting that there weren’t good people DOTR (the station in Memphis) but management there never seemed interested in cultivating that type of atmosphere for the people who worked there.
I left WHNT for more money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted that decision.
P.S. the post title refers to an old Cindy Walker song about going to a funeral.