My Biggest Break -- By Farr
I had lunch and a chance to chat this past weekend with a man named Loren Farr. The first time I ever talked to him was in July 1989. He was the boss, the news director, and the main news anchor at KXII TV in Sherman, Texas.
I was a would-be reporter who just finished the program at a school called “Broadcast Center” in St. Louis. I had sent Mr. Farr an audition tape and he called me because he said he spotted some potential in my work.
My route into TV news wasn’t typical. I went to CU in Boulder, changed my major several times, took several journalism courses along the way and graduated with a BA in English. I was always a pretty good writer and I loved to read so eventually that was a good fit for me. I learned a lot in a wide range of classes and I was proud to have a degree, but I didn’t think I was cut out to be a teacher (that is a really tough job). I wasn’t sure what to do.
My sister Cindy and her husband Russ were living in St. Louis and they kept seeing commercials for Broadcast Center. The school promised to get you a job in broadcasting if you completed the one-year course.
I packed up and moved to St. Louis, moved in with Cindy and Russ and signed up at Broadcast Center. The program was good. There was a strong emphasis on voice work and on writing for news. I’d always been a good talker and I caught on quickly. I took a couple of extra courses with extra fees from a couple of well-known St. Louis anchors. Those classes were very helpful.
That brings me to that 1989 phone call from Mr. Farr at KXII. He told me he liked my tape because of the potential he saw in me. (We agreed this weekend that the tape wasn’t very good, but it was hard to get a good tape made in 1989 unless you were an intern at a TV station, and I was not.) He told me he couldn’t hire me without meeting me in person, and he couldn’t guarantee that he would hire me if I traveled to Texas on my own. He needed someone right away. I thanked Mr. Farr for his time.
I made a call to Colorado and my mother agreed to help me pay for a flight to Texas. (Thanks, Mom!)
I called Mr. Farr back and told him I would be in Sherman the following Friday.
He put me through a really tough interview for more than three hours – still one of the toughest I’ve ever had. A few days later he called and offered me a job as a KXII bureau reporter in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He told me that he appreciated the fact that I called him Mr. Farr and not Loren. I took the job and started my TV News career on Aug. 1, 1989.
It was a tough job but I learned a lot. I was there for a little under a year, then I moved on to a station in Lawton, Oklahoma, which was a bigger market.
That first job was a real eye-opener. I quickly found out how much I didn’t know, but Loren Farr was a strong mentor and a coach and a counselor. I reconnected with him a few years ago on Facebook, and he let me know he would be in Colorado Springs this past weekend for family reasons.
It was great to see him and talk about those times nearly 29 years ago. I call him Loren now. Everything that has happened to me in my TV news career goes back to the man who made that first phone call in 1989 and knew that he could turn my potential into ability, and capability in a tough and competitive business.
Thanks, Mr. Farr!
Below are a few screen shots from that first TV news job in 1989.
We’ll talk again soon.