I was in television a L O N G time. From 1954 until 1996. That’s something like forty-two years, I think. Math is not my strong suite – which is odd because I was (and, I guess, still am technically) a meteorologist which is different from a weatherman or a weatherwoman. I did actually study the atmospheric sciences as they relate to weather, so I could do my own weather forecasting. Nobody does that much anymore. Most of the people you see doing TV weather are “coached” by some firm that makes money telling them what to say. And not only was I in, for about thirty-three of those years, a very large market – but even more impressive our TV station was picked up by a satellite and broadcast all over the country and to all the ships at sea. (I’m not kidding – I got mail from folks who had seen me in the Virgin Islands and on cruise ships.)
Notice I said I was “in” television. People used to come up to me and say, “Hey…you’re ON the TV!” to which, being a smart ass, I would jump aside and say, “Oh, sorry. I hope I didn’t hurt it.”
One thing that always perplexed me was the way some people (and when I say “people” here I am mostly referring to “News Anchors”) would bemoan the fact that they had to appear at public promotional things and talk to viewers and sign autographs. I always felt foolish signing my name to something because it didn’t seem to me to be of any value. BUT, if somebody wanted my scribble – hey, okay by me.
But some of my more haughty compatriots felt that it was an imposition on them .They didn’t feel that they should be required to go out and about with the great unwashed public. To me, it went with the job. If they wanted their “privacy” why were they in the business of putting their pusses on TV every day?
You want to know the funniest thing that ever happened to me? I was divorced and living in a high rise apartment building. It was full of a whole spectrum of people, from young folks who couldn’t afford better to old folks living out their days. There were a lot of suicides in that building. I got on the elevator late one night after work and an old lady got on with me. We’re riding up and she is giving me the eye. I know she recognizes me from TV. Elevator stops at her floor. I hold the door for her. She says, “Are you Johnny Beckman?” I said, “Yes mam, I am.” She seemed disappointed and said, “Well, you certainly don’t look like him.” I think I know what she meant. But, she could be right – maybe I don’t look like me.
Television has become life with the dull parts left out.