Before the holidays, and way before we rang in this wonderful new year, I sat down with a story teller most of us know.
Ted Perry has been invited into our living rooms on a routine basis in his role as an anchor at WITI-TV Fox 6. From the desk, he is someone we’ve come to trust to deliver the news and who does more than most by sharing his thoughts in the "Ted’s Take" segments.
If you hear him on the radio with "Dave and Carole" on WKLH-FM, or follow his Twitter feed, you get a different side of the newsman, as well.
Story tellers don’t just repeat what happened. Reporters, producers, editors, video and photo journalists, engineers, managers and directors all have had a hand in what is shaped before it is delivered. Perry is one of those people.
We talk about each of our backgrounds in Wisconsin, and come to find that Perry’s cousin was a reporter I worked with at a newspaper. We both delight in sharing the eccentric traits of our common friend, and it sets the tone for words shared over a cup of coffee at Comet on the city’s East Side.
I bring up that what we’ve done before, that it has an effect on what we do now. The conversation went on.
"I help coach freshman baseball at Whitefish Bay," Perry tells me, talking about the experiences he has with the young players.
He tells me that the kids on the team ultimately get to see a different side of him.
Perry is down to Earth; there’s a common "every man" quality that exudes from what he shares, the gestures and the overall delivery.
I talk about my theory on Milwaukee, that even though there is healthy competition between the outlets, on a personal level, people in the media here tend to get along. I don’t think it is like that everywhere.
Perry doesn’t believe it is exclusive to here, but understands what I’m getting at.
Perry said that some nights he will have a conversation with Charles Benson at WTMJ-TV Ch. 4, or Colleen Henry at WISN-TV 12 or Paul Piaskoski at WDJT-TV CBS 58, just to share thoughts on what’s going on around them.
"Benson and I will chat about what (story) we led with," Perry said. "We’ll talk about what we thought about the newscast."
It’s the common experience that gives Perry and his peers a place to share what is good and bad about this business. Like anything, there are highlights and challenges. News is no different.
"It is something we have in common, a bond we share working in local TV," he said.
Looking at the past, we wonder if it was available back then, would we have Edward R. Murrow texting? Could you imagine what he would share and who would he share it with?
But, here in the present is where we are, riding through the changes in the medium.
"The thing about people is that they will find our faults," Perry said as we transition to there being a reason we get to do what we get to do. "I will never forget that I’m not perfect."
He calls the audience that takes the time to tune in "Perry’s People." They are the reason he gets to keep working in news. He told me he will never forget that either.
Looking to the future, Perry will have plenty of stories to tell. My hope is that the audience will see beyond just a talking head on the screen.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.