Friday, October 17, 2014
Being 'Outstanding Kansas Citian' escaped me
By Steve Crum
Soon after being honorably discharged from the Army in early 1972, I was looking for a job. One might think that since I was drafted in the middle of my first year of teaching in January, 1970, I would be able to return to said job once I had served my country. But no. Virtually everyone who served got his or her respective job back, but not public school teachers. The Leavenworth school district had no openings in mid-school year, and were not legally bound to rehire me even if they did. I am still bitter about that exception to the rule.
I stayed with my mom and stepfather temporarily until I got a job and could support myself. My plan was to find a job within a week. Unfortunately, my stay with them lasted about six months…until I was hired as a high school teacher by the Kansas City, Kansas school district. During those dreary months preceding the 1972-73 school year, I interviewed and applied for various jobs. The state employment service had no jobs for a college grad with an English degree. A paid employment agency could not help me either. Eventually I worked at an electronic firm as a shipping and receiving clerk, holding that job until my new teaching job kicked in during late August.
Desperate for work during the first of March, 1972, I decided to dress up in suit and tie, and venture to KMBC-TV, then located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Since my background was in academic journalism, from high school through Emporia State, I figured what the hell. I had only a handful of courses in broadcasting, but I WAS a speech minor. Maybe I could at least get a job as copy writer. By the time I approached the front door of KMBC-TV 9 that freezing day, I was willing to settle for a janitorial job. Anything to get a foothold at one of the top ABC-TV affiliates in the nation. I walked inside with no appointment, hopeful.
Claude Dorsey was the big name at KMBC by 1972, the station’s long time news anchor, and was named Kansas City Broadcaster of the Year in 1971. He joined the staff at KMBC radio in 1939, a run lasting 60 years. This was the man fate arranged me to meet that day.
The smartly dressed lady sitting at the front desk pleasantly smiled as I approached her: “Good morning, may I help you?” “Yes,” I said, “I am here inquiring about a possible job.” Her response startled me: “Oh yes, Mr. Dorsey is in his office now, so go on in.” She pointed behind her, and down the hall. I followed her route. I thought, “All this to apply for a janitorial job?”
Dorsey’s door was ajar, so I walked in, meekly. There sat a man I had known since TV began in KC in the early 1950’s. He stood, greeted me, and asked me to sit down in front of his paper-stacked desk. “You know we are looking for a news anchor, since I am cutting back on my on-air duties,” said Dorsey. “So tell me about your background.” Realizing the proverbial jig was way up, I proceeded to tell him about my past two years in the Army, my brief teaching career, and my journalism background. Being editor of my college newspaper topped the list.
As I spoke, he shuffled through his paperwork: “Now what is your name?” After telling him, he focused on a sheet of paper which evidently had a list of interviewees. Of course I was not on that list, since I had no appointment whatsoever. “So Stephen,” Dorsey asked, “why are you here today?” I then confessed to him that I was looking for any job available, perhaps as a copywriter or even a custodian.
Dorsey smiled and said, “I guess my secretary thought you were one of the applicants we were expecting this morning. As for any other job openings, I am afraid we are not hiring right now. However, please come back to see us when you get some broadcast experience in smaller towns. Start your career there, Stephen.”
We shook hands, and I left his office, and the building, nodding to his secretary as I left. Evidently the applicant they were expecting still had not arrived. There was no one else in the vicinity.
I never followed Claude Dorsey’s advice. Instead, I continued my teaching career, and taught both print and broadcast journalism for 35 years before retiring.
The fellow Mr. Dorsey and KMBC-TV did hire, perhaps later that same morning, was Mr. Larry Moore. Moore continued to be chief news anchor at KMBC-TV for over 40 years, beginning in 1972, and is now “emeritus” news anchor—retired. Without realizing it, I vied for Larry Moore’s position. On Oct. 15, 2014, Moore was named “2014 Outstanding Kansas Citian.” I like to think that could have been my moniker.