Dave Ward once held the Guinness World Records title as the longest-running local TV news anchor at the same TV station in a major market.
Ward, known to many as “the most trusted voice in Houston,” first joined ABC’s KTRK-Channel 13 in 1966, and today hosts “Dave Ward’s Houston,” a series on ABC13 that explores the people, places and events which make the city so special.
Now, fans can go behind the scenes of a life well lived as, on July 1, this local favorite’s long-awaited memoir, Good Evening, Friends: A Broadcaster Shares His Life (Bright Sky Publishing) will be available at Dave Ward’s Houston and fine booksellers everywhere.
How has broadcast news changed in the last 60 years?
Oh my goodness! When I started at Channel 13, we did 15 minutes of news at 6pm and 15 minutes at 10pm. In the ‘70s, people began wanting more and TV stations all over the country started devoting more programming to news. Today, you’ll find programming dedicated to the news on most major networks from 4:30am – 7am, 11am – 12noon, 3pm – 7pm, and 10pm – 10:30pm.
It’s a little disturbing to me that many of these are no longer “real” news programs or broadcasts, they’ve now become news “shows.” It’s better for the news to stick with the facts and let the “shows” provide the entertainment.
What was the most inspiring story you have ever worked on?
I have been privileged to interview five presidents of the United States. I was one of 10 news people invited to interview President Obama inside the White House. What an incredible opportunity to stand on the lawn of the White House, and announce, “Live from the White House lawn…”
What is your favorite landmark in Houston?
The Astrodome, since I spent so much time out there. I was on the radio crew for the Houston Oilers from 1972-1982. All three local TV stations were represented on the crew there. We were quite a team.
How has your job presented a challenge in terms of balancing work life and family life?
There is not an hour on the clock, or a day of the week that I haven’t worked on a regularly scheduled basis at one time or another on the news over the past 60 years. TV news requires a very demanding schedule and it is even more demanding on your private life. I’m on my third marriage and thank God for my wife Laura, she really saved my life. Many times there will be journalism students or interns working at the station. I ask them why they want to be in broadcast journalism. Those who say they want to be on TV, I tell them to find something different. Those who say they want to serve the public and present them with the facts, those are the ones who I think will do the best job.
What was the first memorable assignment of your career?
I was working for KNUZ radio and a call came in that a fugitive had been captured in Southeast Houston. I jumped in the mobile unit and headed to the scene. When I arrived, there were uniformed cops all around. I was walking up and saw a guy in a white suit, white tie, full make-up, silver wig. I asked the Houston Chronicle photographer standing next to me who he was and the photographer said it was Marvin Zindler, the Sheriff’s deputy who caught the fugitive. Marvin went on to become the first television consumer reporter in the country.
You’re known as “the most trusted voice in Houston.” What kind of pressures did you face when reporting the news?
You had to get it right. When they first put me and co-anchor Dan Emmerman on air back in 1968, we were a bad number three in the Houston market. You have to build trust among the viewers. If the viewers don’t trust you, they won’t watch.
How has the internet changed how we get our news today?
Everybody’s got a cell phone or computer now — you don’t really need to watch television anymore. It makes me glad I got into TV news 60 years ago. Today I don’t think I’d have made it.
Who is the most memorable person you’ve interviewed?
George Herbert Walker Bush. During the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, the “hippies” were protesting and blocking the turnstiles which prevented us from going in to the convention. I looked for anyone from Texas to interview. Found Bush who, at the time was the alternate delegate, and not only from Texas but also from Houston. We talked some about Goldwater and I asked him what he thought about all the hippies. He said, “If they just would go home, take a shower, put on some decent clothes we would talk to them. Right now, they stink!”
Cover photo courtesy Dave Ward