Nixon Resigns: The WAVY Newsroom Remembers

August 8th, 2014 at 8:35 am by under News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized
Richard Nixon announces his resignation to the nation.

Richard Nixon announces resignation (NBC News photo)

“To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.”    

Richard M. Nixon   August 8, 1974


Those words coming through our 19 inch Magnavox echoed relief for my father.  To say he never cared for Richard Nixon was kind at best.  The television images revealed a blank, defeated look in the president’s brown eyes.  A sheaf of papers in the foreground seemed  to provide a thin wall between a fallen leader and the people whose trust was betrayed.  A wall that no longer could hide the truth.  I don’t recall what dad said during that primetime speech,  but I remember he was elated over the president stepping down.   It’s not hard to imagine, being that he was a  union carpenter, who always pulled the lever for Democrats.   “Tricky Dick,”  that pejorative often used towards Nixon by his detractors, could often be heard from the lips of  my father, who like many in 1974, thought the country was on the wrong track.   I, at 12 years old, was more concerned about the Pittsburgh Pirates making their run at another division title, and the girls who frequented the baseball fields watching us play on those muggy summer days.   But that speech left me with an empty feeling  about what nation I would inherit.  The President of the United States had just announced he was leaving– a watershed moment for a decade that marked a turning point in America.    Our dinner conversation in the 1970′s often centered on high inflation,  something called the “energy crisis,” and Watergate–the scandal that led to this television view of a tired looking man;  the most powerful leader in the world exiting the White House under a cloud of shame.

Photos of Watergate players.

WAVY-TV News Director Jim Gilchriest, who was just 11 at the time,  took his cue from his parents as they watched this historic broadcast.

“When he said, ‘I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon tomorrow’ my mother gasped and, in reaction to her, I started crying.”

WAVY Sports Director Bruce Rader worked for a Washington TV station during that summer of 1974.  He recalls spending the night in a station truck on Pennsylvania Avenue next to Lafayette Park near the White House.

“That night all three networks did live cut ins while thousands of young people celebrated behind us on Pennsylvania Avenue. I asked a couple of DC police officers if they would help us with the rowdy kids during our lives shots, and the cops told us we were the reason the President was being forced to resign and they were not going to help us at all.   As soon as we turned off our lights at 11:30, the DC police lined up in riot gear on Pennsylvania Avenue near the executive office building and started marching down Pennsylvania Avenue swinging their billy clubs hitting the demonstrators.  Many of the young people were taken to the hospital, some with serious injuries.” 

NBC's Tom Brokaw reporting from Washington's Lafayette Park

NBC’s Tom Brokaw reporting from Washington’s Lafayette Park


Rader also remembers a seeing a young Tom Brokaw,  who had become the NBC White House Correspondent just a year before, and “couldn’t imagine he would be covering the Gerald Ford White House.”

America was winding down it’s involvement in Vietnam, and a deep recession was hurting families across all income levels.    To this 12 year old, it seemed the world was coming apart.   Our once beacon of hope for the free world,  seemed to be descending into darkness.   WAVY’s  Chief Meteorologist Don Slater recalls the climax and resolution of Watergate with a sentiment shared by millions,

“Once the end happened and the President resigned, it was a scary moment.   Whoa! This has never happened before. What happens now? What is the future of my country?”

The next day provided the resolution to this national drama.   From the vantage point much closer to history, Bruce Rader recalled a tragic figure making his final walk from the White House after passing the torch to Vice President Gerald Ford.   This scene would transform Rader’s choice of career in television.

Final goodbye (photo from Ollie Atkins)

Final goodbye (photo from Ollie Atkins)


“Nixon got on his helicopter waved to his staff and took off.  I had been at the White House for over 24 hours, I went back to the office and they sent me to RFK Stadium because we were broadcasting a Redskins preseason game that night.  It was at that point I decided once and for all I did not want to cover news I was more comfortable in sports.   At least in sports somebody wins.”



The Newsroom’s top 5 at 5: BREAKING NEWS

February 14th, 2014 at 3:44 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Community, News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized

TomBREAKING_optSo much of what we do is getting, what we hope,  are accurate and fair accounts of the day’s events on the air and online in a timely manner.  But as media progressively marches toward split-second immediacy, there is a little time to process what is happening.  Case in point: Today’s shooting the Gallery at Military Circle in Norfolk .

As soon as I opened the door to our newsroom, News Director Jim Gilchriest told me “get your face on, we have a shooting inside a mall.”  My blood pressure quickly rose for a split second as I asked where.   My request was met with silence.  I quickly brushed on some powder and ran to our newsroom camera.  Asst.  News Director Mark Kurtz handed me a bulletin from Norfolk P0lice.  In the rush to mic-up, someone yelled about graphic video.   Executive Producer Bob Bennett was in the producer’s booth, and told me to stand-by.  All while Jim was telling me to issue a disclaimer about video that may be inappropriate for younger viewers.   So in a matter of five minutes,  between leaving my car in the parking lot, and entering the newsroom, I was on the air with Jason Marks and the lead story of what you’ll see at 5.  Here are the other 4 things to watch for tonight.

Ava Hurdle gets the news of shooting inside Military Circle Mall

Ava Hurdle gets the news of shooting inside Gallery at Military Circle.

2.)   Mall shoppers at the scene  Ava Hurdle is getting stories from others inside the mall at the time of the shooting.

3.)  Judge rules against same-sex marriage ban   10 on your side broke the story on air last night during our late news Thursday night.  Tonight Stephanie Harris talks to two men at the center of this lawsuit who found the judge’s opinion ”so moving we read it and cried.”

4.)   Religious reaction  The Catholic Diocese of Richmond says the ruling  “contradicts the wisdom and understanding of the ages.”  Anita Blanton talked to a number of religious groups who say this decision redefines marriage and the family.

5.)  Police: woman admits killing her son   Erin Kelly is following these startling developments from Franklin in the case of a six year old’s murder.

Nicole and I will see you at 5.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m NOT Gay… but my brother was.

February 10th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

Michael ROBERTS died in 1985… of AIDS. When he finally “came out of the closet” he went straight to a hospital bed. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ravaged his body. At peak health he stood six feet three, two hundred twenty five pounds. At death, I could’ve carried him in one arm while holding a stack of his lesson plans in the other. The only things that terrified this former middle school teacher -as much as the disease’s death sentence- were having to tell our parents he was ill- and why.

Michael also worried about another thing… the world finding out about his illness through the efforts of a persistent reporter. Consider the times: In ’85,  the average Joe and Jane  were terrified of being in the SAME ROOM with someone who was gay. Homosexual black males were at high risk of contracting AIDS and HIV, then. And, too many people thought they could “catch it” if an infected person just breathed on you.  So, a teacher, with AIDS, and charged with caring for 30 rambunctious kids all day? That would have been BREAKING NEWS. Thankfully, my big bro’s “story” never made the headlines.

Michael Sam_image Michael Sam -3 nfl_mortscheft_sam





Fast forward 30 years to 2014… another MICHAEL, (about the same SIZE as my brother) is proudly telling the world he is gay. Michael Sam  made an ANNOUNCEMENT on ESPN. My, My, My, how times have changed. SAM, a star defensive end at UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, thus could become the first openly gay  player in the NFL. Now, I’m as guilty as the next man of selective amnesia – my initial reaction to SAM’S interview with ESPN was- “Why do you have to make an announcement? Your sexual preferences are your business! Just do your talking on the field!” Up to this point, there are no “known” homosexual players in the NFL. Guys have said they suspect there are some on each team, but with hyper aggressive players like Ritchie Incognito running roughshod over locker rooms, it’s no surprise no one dares speak up.

KATIE COLLETT heard me thinking out loud this a-m and offered a timely perspective- that may or may not have been SAM’S’ thinking. She said she, too, has a gay relative. And that relative endured some stressful times due to lack of acceptance in the broader, heterosexual community. But, here’s where she hit the nail on the head. She said – maybe MICHAEL SAM “came out” so the next kid won’t have to… He, or she, can just “be.”

I immediately thought of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate posted video of him in a sexual act with his male partner. Gay student Tyler Clementi _190-articleInline-v2

Tyler Clementi  told his parents he was gay, just days before heading off to college.

Michael SAM will soon be graduating, I imagine, with his head held high, and fully capable of “taking off” anyone else’s head who wants to give him some grief over being gay. Good luck in the draft, the locker room, the field, and life.

Michael ROBERTS hated football. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he looked down from the heavenly grandstand to applaud a good hit.

Free At Last? Not Yet.

January 20th, 2014 at 9:35 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized

mlk-_1389523638      I think an 85 year old ML KING would probably be crying today. SATURDAY a HANDFUL of Newport News residents took to the streets, in his name, MARCHING FOR PEACE. SUNDAY, two fools took to the same street, but just four blocks away- FIRING GUNS at each other. A 71 year old man got hit and killed. A Pastor VENTS -and calls for the MAYOR to “do something.” McKinley Price has – leading the effort to bring in a new top crime fighter. Police Chief RICHARD MYERS was sworn in Friday. Criminals were not impressed. But sadly, neither were/are some residents – residents who continue to look the other way -or have nothing to say- while these criminals continue to try and control the streets. *AND* this latest shooting comes on top of the ONGOING search for the guy who’s ATTACKING WOMEN. One victim told me he grabbed her bag- knocking her off her feet – just outside her house, around 430pm! And she says she LATER found out she was likely his 4th victim. She was frustrated at not having heard any alert or warning about the other 3 crimes -also in the south east community.

     If only more EAST END residents would VENT and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, but also, finally realize their POWER!! You can do that- by doing 3 things TODAY: a-INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THAT NEIGHBOR YOU DON’T KNOW; b- AGREE TO LOOK OUT FOR HIM/HER, AS THEY LOOK OUT FOR YOU; c- CALL 9-1-1, or that NEW CHIEF- directly!!! to report what you’ve seen- like that knucklehead that you know carries a gun- or deals drugs, or hides out in a specific public housing unit. Only when “we” realize that there are MORE good people than “bad”- and that EVIL can only FLOURISH when GOOD PEOPLE DO NOTHING- will we truly be Free At Last!

Gubernatorial Inauguration 2014

January 11th, 2014 at 3:39 pm by under Politics

On a dreary Saturday morning, many gathered in Capitol Square in Richmond to watch Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam and Attorney General-elect Mark Herring take their respective oaths of office and drop the ‘elect’ from their titles.

It rained steadily leading up to and during the event, soaking those attending. The rule was umbrellas were not allowed, but that rule was quickly forgotten as the ponchos handed out to everyone didn’t do much to withstand the rain. Even members of the General Assembly and former governor Bob McDonnell were wearing the green and blue ponchos.

mcauliffe speech

Former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton were both in attendance, sitting to the right of those speaking at the podium. The crowd erupted in cheers as President Clinton was spotted making his way down the stairs to his seat.

The rain didn’t stop until now Gov. Terry McAuliffe took to the podium and told the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia some of his plans in the next four years. He received applause as he spoke about the social issues he supports, such as equal rights for women and anti-discrimination in the workplace.

The rain stayed away for the inaugural parade, and Hampton Roads had a representative: Booker T. Washington High School’s marching band.

mcauliffe parade

Gov. McAuliffe will sign two executive orders Saturday – including one to limit gifts for elected officials. He will then spend the rest of his evening at the Inaugural Ball in Richmond with his family and fellow newly-sworn-in peers.

Gov. McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

Veterans: Good and Plenty

November 7th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports

6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.

He was the Army's CARL BRASHEAR

Army Master Diver

Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.

The Army's first African American boat captain

The Army’s first African American boat captain

Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.

Va. Beach Arena, Sacramento Kings Deal Update

December 10th, 2012 at 8:25 pm by under News, Personalities, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

Time for the next step, as Virginia Beach continues it’s quest to build a new 18,000 seat arena and lure the NBA Kings from Sacramento as the building’s anchor tenant.

Tomorrow, December 11th, the Beach City Council is expected to vote overwhelmingly to continue negotiations on the project giving state leaders the confidence that from a local level, everybody is on board.

For now.

City leaders including Virginia Beach councilman Glenn Davis and the city’s finance director Patti Phillips traveled to Dallas late last week to continue talks with Comcast-Spectacor, along with Kevin Taylor the project manager at consultant HKS, Inc. On it’s website, HKS quoted Sims Hinds, managing director of HKS World Events as saying, “We believe that Virginia Beach and Southeastern Virginia represents the last untapped major sports and entertainment market in the country.”

HKS World Events has been working with the Virginia Beach Development Authority on the arena project for more than two and a half years. HKS designed the new Cowboys Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, along with NBA arenas in Dallas and Indianapolis.

But all the talking in the world is not going to come up with the money needed to build the arena and pay moving expenses for the Kings.

Next up, trying to convince members of both houses of the Virginia General Assembly to kick in $150 million to help with the costs.

The state session begins on January 9th. Because the request for state money came in so late, it was not included in the budget introduced by Gov. Bob McDonnell. So now it is up to local Delegates and Senators to submit a budget amendment to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees. That must be done by Friday, January 4th. Local Senator Frank Wagner is expected to carry the legislation to Richmond but neither he nor Beach Senator Jeff McWaters have yet to endorse it. Delegates Ron Villanueva, Chris Stolle, Sal Iaquinto, and Bob Purkey are believed to have been briefed on the proposal but none of them have made any public comment.

Longtime Delegate Bob Tata, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was quoted by Aaron Applegate in the Virginian Pilot last month calling the arena concept, “pie in the sky.” But sources say skepticism by the local delegation in Hampton Roads came before they were given details of the proposal.

After the budget amendment has been submitted, it will have to go before a subcommittee, then the House Appropriations Committee, and then to the entire House of Delegates before it can be adopted. When, and in this case (a big) if this happens, the House budget is sent to the Senate for consideration.

One noticeable stumbling point in the state request may be that Virginia Beach wants to use $80 million of the $150 million to pay the owners of the Kings for moving costs, the anticipated 30 million dollars demanded by the other NBA owners in what they call a “relocation fee”, and loss of revenue the team expects to suffer while having to play in smaller arena’s in Virginia during the two years it will take to build the new building at the beach.

Negotiators may be better served finding another way to come up with the $80 million for the team–using the state money instead for construction and other costs.

Asking for state funds to pay the owners of the Kings George and Gavin Maloff, may be a deal breaker, and this deal is fragile enough.

It’s doubtful the arena can be built without help from the state, so the support of local legislators and eventually law makers from around the state are going to be paramount for this to happen.

Next Tuesday, the newly formed Citizen Communications Committee for the proposed project will hold a public Town Hall meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to gather input from citizens.

So while the arena and the relocation of the Kings is far from being a done deal, it will all be over soon one way or another. The state General Assembly session is only 45 days long, meaning it ends February 23rd.

And the many people associated with the project that I have talked to say there does not seem to be a chance the arena can be built without both the state money and without a long term lease signed by the Kings.

Stay tuned.

Will Sacramento Kings come to Va. Beach? The latest.

November 9th, 2012 at 12:17 am by under News, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council will be presented with the final consultant’s report regarding the feasibility of building a $350 million arena.

The clock is ticking, so where are we now?

Governor Bob McDonnell, Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and officials from Comcast-Spectacor met in Richmond last week along with Sacramento Kings owner George Maloof in regards to the Kings moving their team to Virginia Beach.

Most of my sources tell me today they don’t believe the arena can survive without the assurance that the Kings will sign a long term deal.

But it won’t be cheap. The Kings will have plenty of expenses, at least a $30 million dollar relocation fee to be paid to their fellow NBA owners, as well as $10 to $15 million in moving expenses. As much as the owners would like Virginia Beach to help them with their $67 million arena debt in Sacramento that will never happen.

The Kings would have to play their games at the Ted Constant Center at Old Dominion for two seasons while the arena is being built.

Thus the team would want to be compensated for lost revenue–the total cost, including relocation fees, moving expenses and lost revenue for two years would be somewhere around $100 million.

It may sound like a lot but that is not an outrageous assumption, and it can be paid over time.

Already one consultant report, given to state officials, concludes an arena with an NBA team could generate as much as $182 million in visitor spending each year, with the state alone taking in almost $11 million in tax dollars.

Throw in the publicity of having a major league sports team in Virginia and the governor, mayor, and local business folks think it’s a good idea.

If the numbers add up.

A big chunk of the money would have to come from the state, as much as $105 million dollars, which would be paid to George and Joe Maloof the owners of the team for relocation fees and lost revenue, with any money left over to be used to help the city with construction costs.

The state would also help with financing bonds needed to build the arena.

Comcast-Spectacor and Live Nation, who are putting the deal together, will also probably be asked to kick in as much as $35 million dollars in cash to help make this happen.

Another option is, if the Kings don’t get what they want, would it be viable to build a less expensive arena–that would host concerts, big college basketball tournaments, like the ACC, ultimate fighting, big religious conferences, and then someday go after another NBA team, or maybe an NHL team that could move right in. Thus no lost revenue to be paid out since the arena will already have been built. That would be a $100 million savings alone.

That would probably rule out any money from the state right now, which might be enough to kill the deal, unless the NBA would guarantee Virginia Beach an expansion franchise, which seems out of the question.

Again the City Council will receive their own consultants report on Tuesday, but will the Kings buy in?

Can the arena happen without the Kings?

A complicated situation that could come to a conclusion one way or another by the end of the year.

Voting in Virginia Beach

November 8th, 2011 at 9:32 am by under Politics, Uncategorized

I am happy to live in a country that allows us to have the opportunity to express our opinions freely and to vote. However,it remains depressing that in Virginia Beach and elsewhere, we cannot evaluate without denigrating or refrain from doing our best to ruin a candidate’s character without a shred of proof. I am sickened again to hear about the racial cartoons that were disseminated by one of the Virginia Beach Republican city council candidates’ campaign managers and the vitriolic comments of some in Virginia Beach expressing their belief there is no need to put a black man on the council. And why was it necessary for some Republican party members to berate members of their party for supporting a black candidate running for a nonpartisan office? Did they forget the definition of non partisan or just dismiss it? Finally, please explain to me the hypocritical comments of certain members of the Black community who professed they wanted diversity on city council then complained because it wasn’t “their candidate” who was appointed even though Prescott Sherrod was imminently qualified? All this negativity makes me want to take a shower to wash off the dirt that is weighing my spirit down! It gets us nowhere! Can we please go to the polls and vote for the candidate based on facts about their character and positions? I am voting for Prescott Sherrod because I know the good things he has done. Over the 15 years I have known him I have seen him overcome adversity in business with dignity and devote his time and energy to helping other businesses through his church and community organizations. In a time when all we see in the media about most politicians is negative behavior, I will cast my vote for Prescott Sherrod who ran a positive campaign and, has demonstrated over fifteen years devotion to his wife, his business and his community. I believe those are good reasons to give him a chance to continue to lead our city.

Face to Face With The President

November 4th, 2011 at 8:34 pm by under News, Personalities, Politics, Uncategorized

Interviewing President Obama in Cabinet Room of the White House (White House Photo)

A trip to the White House is rare.  To have access to areas like the South Lawn and the Rose Garden; even more so, but to interview the man elected who makes decisions that affect the free world?  That’s once in a lifetime, even for a local television journalist.  This is not a political column, so I’m putting all partisanship aside.  WAVY-TV was chosen, along with eight other local television stations, to send an anchor to interview President Obama about his American Jobs Act.  It doesn’t take an astute political pundit to understand why the White House put this together.   All of us knew this was one more way to deliver the administration’s message after his $447 billion dollar plan stalled in Congress.  Nonetheless, an interview with the nation’s Chief Executive is enough to bring a butterfly, or two, to my usually cast-iron stomach.

With "First Dog" Bo

It began with the assembly on the South Lawn, a place you rarely see on the daily review of Washington politics on NBC Nightly News.  It is reserved mostly for state functions, but on this day it served as a backdrop for local live reports on our experiences.    One by one, we’d be escorted through the Rose Garden to the West Wing, which housed the Cabinet Room.   I was called first, and was brought to the door, which stood as the only barrier between my questions about Hampton Roads, and the President of the United States.  Small talk with a White House assistant chewed up some of the moments, while a crew set up two cameras and microphones.  I remained cool.  “Will the president be inside the room, or will he make an entrance?”    His assistant answered with a smile, “he’ll be the first person you see when you walk in.”  I nodded as if I’ve been here before, but  clearly I was in uncharted territory.

Preparing for live reports from the White House

The door swung open and President Obama was taking a drink of water as I walked in.   We extended our hands simultaneously, and I offered “Good morning, Mr. President.  I’m Tom Schaad from WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads.  Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.”  President Obama reciprocated by showing a cool gratitude toward me.  I stood behind the spot they had designated as we talked about my hometown of Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t resist plugging my Steelers, and their coach from Newport News, Mike Tomlin.  “He’s a good coach,” the president said coolly.

Reporting from the South lawn of the White House

Finally, a man behind President Obama held up five fingers.  Time to start.  Five minutes.  Three questions.  Watch the interview here, and notice my awkward exit!    Photojournalist Jeff Myers captured some “behind the scenes” shots  as well.