Thursday, April 21, 2005

Thanks For Everything, Jerry

The end of the May sweeps period will mark the end of an era in Milwaukee (my hometown) television. Jerry Taff, who for much of the past 25 years was the main anchor at WISN, will anchor his final newscast.

Unlike most aspiring journalists he worked with, I avoided working with him while I was in college. I wasn't sure I'd ever work in news after I got out of school and didn't want to waste his time. But when I moved to Peoria and started pushing myself hard to get better at this, Jerry was there for me. And he has continued to be there for me even since I have left TV.

I'd drive home for a weekend and he'd work with me till the wee hours on a Thursday or Friday night, going through tape and sitting me down on set... all after putting in a full day. And he didn't try to make me a clone of him, but instead helped me find my own voice. It's not that we agree on everything or that I accepted everything he ever said... and I don't think he expected me to. But he always made me think and work a little bit harder.

Lots of people influenced my ten years in television... too many to list here. But few invested the time and effort that Jerry did and for that I will always be grateful. And I will always consider him a friend.

Jerry has helped hundreds of people who work/worked in TV news in one way or another. To current newsies: if you can find a mentor to fill this role in your career, you'll be better off in the long run.

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