Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bill Longworth

Bill Longworth and I worked together at WBRE-TV 28 from 1982-1986. He now hosts "Capitol Connection" a production of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus.

I've known Bill since 1973 when as weekend radio reporters we would trade stories. Bill worked at WEJL-AM in Scranton and I worked at WILK-AM in Wilkes-Barre.

He's a dear and cherished friend.

The thing I remember most about our television days was our inability to work together. That's right, we couldn't be in the same room. Not because we disliked each other or because we had major philosophical differences about our approach to news. We had a much larger problem. We made each other laugh.

Not a smile or a giggle.

Outrageous, knee-slapping laughter.

Wholly inappropriate laughter.

The kind of over-the-top, infectious, the more you tried to suppress, it only got worse laughter that used to get me sent to Sister Imelda's office on a regular basis.

This became particularly difficult when I would appear on set with Bill when he would fill in between the station's anchorman mistakes. It would start with a smile, then a laugh and end with panic. We got the lecture a couple of times.

But the funniest moments came off camera in the WBRE newsroom. We had a news director who really thought he was God's gift to television. Trust me, he wasn't. Bill and I "disliked" him.

Every now and then Bill and I would phone each other to complain about the boss. Mind you we would be talking on the phone when our desks were less than ten feet apart. The News Director suspected we were talking to each other. We would be laughing out loud, at the same time. He would then call one of us to his desk.

Now if we both hung up at the same time, he would know we were talking to each other. So Bill and I would take turns, NOT HANGING UP. That's right the conversation would continue with no one on the other end of the line. Most perplexing for the ND. To really sell it, we would stay on the phone, talking to no one, for several minutes at a time.

We've written some really good news stories in our time, but we were most creative when we were talking to nobody. And the longer we stayed on the phone, the more difficult it became for the one of us standing before the ND to keep from laughing.

The News Director never figured it out.

Just writing this makes me laugh out loud to the point of tears.

Gosh, I miss those days.

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