Paul Hornung: The Handoff Didn't Work

 

News of the death of Paul Hornung, sometimes called the Golden Boy of 1950s and 1960s football, brings to mind my first encounter with him at WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station in Chicago. (Hornung died Nov. 13 in Louisville. He was 84.)

In something of a coup, Channel 2 general manager Edward Kenefick, who played football at Notre Dame, added Hornung to the station’s sports staff after he retired from his stellar career at Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers. Next, he talked retired Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy into joining Horning to do Sunday night critiques of Chicago Bears games. It was a bold move into new territory that didn’t please the Bears.

Hornung couldn’t type and knew nothing about television production. Neither did Leahy. They needed a producer-writer to pull it all together for them. Somehow, I have no idea how, I was picked.

One problem: in those days I knew as little about football as they knew about TV.

On launch Sunday the three of us sat in a conference room watching the Bears game. While the two of them talked football – “It’s a third-down game” -- and shared Notre Dame memories between plays, I took notes. Every so often Hornung would turn to me and say “we will want that play.” Duly noted.

Obviously, this didn’t work. Mercifully, by the next week I was replaced by another producer (Bob Harris), who understood the game and appreciated the legends he was working with.

Together they put launched a Sunday night success – a hit with fans if not the Bears.


Carol Marin: To very early memories

Carol Marin

A bit of background for readers who do not live in Chicago:

Carol Marine retired November 6 after four decades in Chicago television, most of it at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV. During that long career she set the gold standard for journalism excellence.

After the announcement of her retirement, well deserved tributes poured in. Instead, I chose to write this more personal trip down memory lane. (No idea if she had read it; she’s been very busy.)

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Carol, it was always a pleasure working with you. Tons of people have paid well-deserved tributes to your contribution to broadcast journalism in Chicago.

But, for old time’s sake, take a moment to reflect on the beginning at WMAQ-TV, in the late 1970s. I produced the first newscast you co-anchored (with Mike Jackson). Before your debut ND Paul Beavers told me that Mike, as the familiar face, should lead for the next few weeks. Almost immediately you asked me why. I explained what Beavers had said.

Soon I got a message from Beavers: “Never mind.”  You had talked to him. You and Mike began sharing reading lead stories.

I was always flattered that you picked me to be the first producer in your unit. It didn’t last long, because I got an offer to move over to the network side – the beginning of a great eight-year experience.

I’ve always appreciated that you wanted Don Moseley to join you but initially there was no writer’s slot open, so he had to remain in Tennessee. In the end, all three of us won: I got a dream job as field producer for the network, and you and Don teamed up to do amazing, great journalism in Chicago – for decades.

Enjoy the next phase of your life.


Got quarters?

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For sake of my tenants, please spend them.

I wasn’t aware of the quarter crisis caused by the pandemic until I got a pleading email from a tenant in August. The local supermarket would no long sell him $10 rolls of quarters. Neither would his bank. Without quarters he couldn’t wash his clothes.

A second tenant chimed in, calling them “exceedingly difficult to find.” When she visited her parents in the suburbs, the local banks would give her only $5 in quarters.

When Covid-19 struck in the spring, the normal circulation of currency was disrupted. Small-dollar purchases often made with paper and coin – that morning cup of coffee – simply weren’t being made. People were staying home. Those who ventured out found their local bakery closed, and if it was open, they were encourage to use credit cards.

No segment of the economy has been hit harder than laundromats. According to an association count, 56 percent of them require customers to insert quarters into their machines.

In the meantime, I am doing what the banks wouldn’t: selling $10 packets of quarters.

I own the machines, so I collect the quarters, and I developed a system: For every $10 they add to their monthly rent, which tenants pay electronically, I deliver a packet of quarters. Two months in, it seems to be working.

In fact, it actually saves me money. Banks long ago stopped using coin-counting machines and may not accept a roll of coins.  My only real option is Coinstar, which has installed machines in supermarkets and other retail outlets. It charges a 15 percent service fee. So, I have every incentive to take care of my tenants first.

 I win. They win. And some coins remain in circulation, even if they don’t leave the building.

The Federal Reserve insists there is no shortage, it’s a matter circulation. If people would just start spending quarters, all would be fine. But they aren’t, and who knows when, or if, they ever will.

My tenants can’t wait if they want to wash their clothes.


Fall Color 2020

We encounter the best fall color we have ever seen -- anywhere -- this fall in the Arrowhead Country of Minnesota.

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Arrowhead Country is along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Duluth north to the Canadian border. These pictures were taken near Grand Marais, MN Sept. 22 and 23.
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Red maples along a ridge cap yellow and green trees below.
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The display of fall color we saw this year was like nothing we have ever seen -- anywhere. Picture taken Sept. 22, 2020 near Grand Marais, in Minnesota's Arrowhead Country.

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