Dave Ward of KTRK Ch. 13 took a small, but nevertheless nasty, fall on set Friday only minutes before the evening newscast.
This weekend, noted local media blogger Mike McGuff reported a mysterious change of venue and personnel during Friday night's KTRK broadcast, as Melanie Lawson went through the day's events from the newsroom rather than the typical desk area viewers know and love.
"Since the late '60s, this man has been a familiar face in Houston homes," media blogger Mike McGuff says. "People practically eat dinner with him."
As of Monday night, KTRK noted that the 72-year-old Ward was out of bed and walking, but had not yet been cleared by doctors to return to work. It could be several weeks, the station wrote, before the venerable anchor will be back on air.
Ward was born in Dallas and raised in Huntsville, Texas. After starting in radio broadcasting, he joined KTRK in 1966 as reporter and photographer before being promoted to his current post as anchor on Eyewitness News in 1967.
In fall 2011, Ward celebrated his 45th year with the station.
"Dave's a TV icon in Houston," McGuff tells CultureMap. "He's one of the longest running television anchors in America."
"Since the late '60s, this man has been a familiar face in Houston homes," McGuff continues, noting the personal connection viewers feel towards the longtime newscaster. "People practically eat dinner with him."
Ward has been off the air on two other occasions throughout his long career, sidelined by a motorcycle accident in 1974 and a car wreck on the West Loop in 2003 during which he broke his leg. After the motorcycle crash, he recorded several news pieces from the hospital to be aired in his absence.
Since Monday, adoring fans have posted more than 150 comments on the KTRK website.
"With all due respect to Ch. 13 & Mr. Dave Ward, Houston will not let you get off that easy," joked one commenter. "I suggest you mimic your late colleague, Mr. Marvin Zindler, & report the news from your bed as you recover!"
"I have been watching you along with my mother for as long as I can remember, on a black and white TV to start," posted another commenter. "I was the remote back then . . . Speedy recovery, hope to see you real soon."
Everyone at CultureMap can't wait to see you back on the air as well, Dave. Get well soon!