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My Career Is Now An Adult (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

Time flies when you never have time!

I STARTED MY FIRST REAL TV JOB 21 YEARS AGO

You never know when you start a career if it's going to stick. I guess this one is for me. 

On August 1st 1989 I officially started my first job at a commercial TV station.  It was KXII- TV, based in Sherman, Texas. My job though, was as a reporter/photographer at the station's bureau in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  Collectively the Southern Oklahoma, Northern Texas area was referred to as Texoma. Ardmore is almost  exactly half way between Oklahoma City and Dallas. Like the abbreviation of its state, Ardmore is....ok.  That market was the 175th largest in the nation at the time.  Not very big, but we all start somewhere.  I was responsible for anything that happened in about a 5-County area.  There was another reporter and one full-time photographer in the bureau too.   Here's a picture from probably late 1989, I think this was a small wildfire in the town of Sulphur.

I spent 8 months there and then moved on to market number 125..Lawton, Oklahoma/Wichita Falls, Texas.  KSWO TV was the only one of the three station in the market on the Oklahoma side,  We were based in Lawton but we went to Texas whenever we needed to.  This area was again referred to as Texoma! I became the weekend anchor after just a couple of months.  One highlight was being in an army town during the first Gulf War.  Fort Sill, in Lawton, sent about 10-thousand soldiers to Operation Desert Shield/Storm..the population of Lawton? About 80,000. Here's a picture from a "Support The Troops" rally in Lawton shortly after the war started in early 1991. 

I was there for 1 year and four months until I finally got to come home to Colorado Springs ...for the first time. Colorado Springs/Pueblo was then market number 99.  This job was at KRDO-TV.  I was a reporter at first, then soon took over the weekend anchor slot.  I did a lot of strong work there. I was proud of much of what we did, won a whole bunch of awards.   Eventually I realized the only way to move up was to move on.  I hated to leave my home town.  Here's a picture from a story I did about Chinook helicopter crews training for high altitude rescues. They dropped us off on the side of Pikes Peak just long enough to shoot the part where I talk on camera (we call it a stand-up). Then they picked us up again. The camera man here is a guy named Jeff...to this day he's one of my good friends...he's long gone from the TV business. Someone from the Fort Carson Public Affairs office was nice enough to take the photo.

I spent about 3-and-a-half years at that station then landed a job in Louisville, Kentucky.  If you've never been there it's a nicer place than you may think. I spent two years WLKY-TV at the CBS affiliate. Louisville was about market number 49 at the time.  We had flooding, tornadoes, huge fires, the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Slugger museum (I'm a huge baseball fan, I actually interviewed Ted Williams at the slugger factory) I did a lot of really great things there.  It was a good place to live and work, but it wasn't Colorado!  Here's an image from the first network live shot I did.  This was from a terrible tornado south of Louisville.

My next stop was in Cincinnati.  At that point, it was something like market 25 or 26. Another great place to live and work..but it wasn't Colorado! I spent about three-and-a-half years at WLWT-TV, the NBC affiliate.  I was the weekend morning anchor and a reporter.  I had more chances to do some great stuff at this station.  We also had major league sports in our city too, so there was always something cool happening. I got to report from the field at a couple of Reds games (When mark McGwire was there, about to break the single season home run record)  Plenty of great stories in the Cincinnati area, I won two Emmy Awards for the work I did there, one of which was for "Best Reporter"  I'm particularly proud of that.  I also covered the Columbine shooting for my Cincinnati station. I just happened to be home in Colorado on vacation the day it happened. I was on the air in Cincinnati, from Littleton, about 3 hours after the shooting started. Here's an image from that day.  Notice the graphic title  "The Big Story"..you might see that around here sometimes..not exactly ground-breaking...I'd just ignore it!

Finally I was able to come home to Colorado. I'd been pestering news managers at all the Denver stations for years. I'd met with half a dozen of them and finally one of them had an opening and wanted me when I was available and not locked in to some iron-clad on-going contract.   KWGN was known until quite recently as WB-2.  I started as a reporter and fill-in anchor there in February of 2001.  It was a great job in market 18!  I was sent all over Colorado, all the time, from Mesa Verde to Fort Morgan.  I thought I would be there for ever. ..until this opportunity came along.  One standout experience from my time in Denver was going to New York as soon as the planes were flying again after 9/11.  Below is a picture taken from Jersey City, New Jersey, which is where we did our live reports every day at 9pm and 5 and 6 am Colorado time.  I was nominated for 8 or 9 Emmy awards during my time in Denver, including one for a story from New York right after 9/11.  The WB-2 camera man for this trip to NYC was a guy named Zumi who always used to carry a small still camera around with him. Smart guy. Thanks for taking this one Zumi.

 This main anchor job at KKTV happened to come open just as my contract was up for renewal in Denver.  I was ready to sign a new deal there, then I happened to hear about this and it all worked out.  I spent 5 years at KWGN in Denver, my longest stint anywhere...but I'm almost at that milestone now here at KKTV. It's been about 4 -and-a-half years here. I'm hoping to break my record, then shatter It destroy it, quadruple it..quintuple it!  I'm back in my home town and not planning to go anywhere!  I get new career highlights here all the time. It's a great job with great people in a great place.

I can only hope the next 21 years are as good as the last 21 years!

You never know when you start a career if it's going to stick. I guess this one is for me. 

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward

 

 

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