Sunday, April 30, 2006

Meeting Local Celebrities

I use to work off and on in the local broadcasting industry. While trying to break into it I had some interesting meetings with local celebrities and some near misses. I already told you about Uncle Al when I was a kid. A few years later during Christmas time Mom and I were at a local drug store. I recognized the man in front of Mom. It was Larry Smith. For those of you not from the Cincinnati area Mr. Smith had a show called Larry Smith and His Puppets on Channel 19 WXIX (clever promotion as XIX is the roman numerals for 19). It's stars were Ruddy the rooster and Teaser the mouse. Another character on the show was Hattie the Witch who was spun off into her own series. Finally there was a third show spun off from Hattie's N.O.T. short for Nasty Old Thing. He was a monster who lived in Hatties dungeon. Snarfie R Dog was another popular character but didn't get his own show. Monday through Friday Larry Smith ruled the afternoons on channel 19. He was a very big star so I was starstruck when I saw him. When we got to the cashier she told us who that was. My Mom asked if I knew it was Larry Smith. I said I did. She wanted to know why I didn't say anything. The truth is I was too shy.
Mr. Smith has his own website right here.
When I was trying to get into broadcasting my Dad called an old Air Force buddy to show me around. He was Walt Maher who was the sportscaster on WKRC television. Now I have never been big on sports. I played some ball in the neighborhood but never watched much on tv unless the Red were in the World Series or the Bengels made the Super Bowl. So I really didn't know what to ask this kind gentleman. He talked about sports and how he helped some people become DJ's by taking them under his wing. Guess I should have asked him to do the same for me. He took me to a photographers studio where they were going to shoot promo photos for the newscast. On the way I asked questions about other reporters, news stories, etc. Once there at the studio I was introduced to his two co-anchors Glenn Ryle and Vicki Yates-Orr. I almost felt as starstruck with Glenn Ryle as I did with Larry Smith. At one time he had one of the biggest kids shows in the area. Second only to Uncle Al. He was Skipper Ryle. You can read more about him and Mr. Smith at Booksteve's Library. Glenn Ryle was a broadcasting utility man for the station. He not only anchored the news and hosted a kidde show but he hosted Bowling for Dollars and movie programs did commercials and was at times side kick on local variety shows. He was an ex-Marine and didn't come off as the rough and tough solider but was very kind to me. Ms. Yates-Orr was the co-anchor person and a very nice and attractive woman. I remember that day how Mr. Ryle said his single friends were always asking him to fix them up with her. He said he had to keep telling them "Guys she's married!"
After the photo shoot Mr. Maher and I got back to the station and my Dad picked me up. He asked what we did and Mr. Maher said that he took me out on assignment.
A few years out of school I went to see a movie at the Showcase Cinemas in Erlanger, Ky. I was waiting for the movie and a very young boy almost bumped into me. His Father said sorry and something else I don't remember but I do remember that we shared a laugh about it. As he walked away I thought he seemed familier to me. Maybe we went to school together but I couldn't remember. Later that night I was watching the news and they told how former Bengels Quaterback Boomer Esiason was in town. That was when I remembered him. I was talking to Boomer Esiason. At least it was a pleasant meeting.
Another clelbrity I met long before he became famous. I am talking about George Clooney. He and I had a broadcasting class together. We said hi to each other a couple of times but never got to know each other. I do have one memory that I may have mentioned here before but for those who don't know it I will tell it again. George and his friend wanted everyone to come into class wearing a funny hat. The day came but no one other then George and his friend had on a hat. So they asked us to turn our chairs around and face the back of the classroom to get a reaction from Dr. Byron Renz our teacher. We did and the only reaction from Dr. Renz was to say "Well you can turn around or I can come to the back of the room to teach you." He said it with a laugh so we all laughed and turned our chairs around to face him.
Now on to our cover boy. Never thought that anyone would refer to Al Schottelkotte as a cover boy. Mr. Schottelkotte was the Walter Cronkite of the Cincinnati news industry. He was so respected nationwide that he could get any of the big network news reporters to do nearly anything for WCPO. Cronkite and Dan Rather both came to Cincinnati to do news promos with him. So he was very big. My friend Chuck and I were doing and intership at the station. The newsroom was very busy. There was a drawer that was open and people were going past it very fast and barely missing it. Chuck and I tried to close it so no one would be hurt. It would not close. There seemed to be something blocking it from closing so I reached in to find it and move it. At that time Al Schottelkotte came up to us. It turned out it was the drawer that he kept his stuff in. He looked at my hand in the drawer then looked at me. I took my hand out and told him I was trying to close the drawer. Mr. Schottelkotte reached in moved something and closed the drawer. He looked at me and smiled and said "Simple!" Then he walked away. Chuck just looked at me and said "I can't believe your first meeting with Al Schottelkotte and he almost thought you were stealing from him. Only you." I bet he rememberd me for awhile. Mr. Schottelkotte passed away in 1996. You can read his obit here.
All in all these local stars were very nice to me and left me with a favorable impression. Posted by Picasa


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if I had the same Byron Renz as a broadcast prof at Saint Mary's College in Minnesota back in 1988 or '89. Any idea what Dr. Renz is up to these days? He left my college pretty abruptly.

Rick said...

The last time I heard from Dr. Renz was about a year or two ago and he was teaching overseas. Not sure where but that is what I heard.