Let’s just call it a glitch, the past 18 months, when TV’s longest-running anchorman, ABC13’s Dave Ward — 50 years to infinity — was off the air.
Ward is back. He returns to ABC13 next month hosting segments called “Dave Ward’s Houston,” in which he will provide his personal, iconic takes on our city. So, while he’s busy dusting off Houston’s history book and rewriting his own, let’s sit him down for 10 Questions.
Ken Hoffman: After more than 50 years of precise, clock-punching life in TV news, did you go batty without a rigid time schedule?
Dave Ward: It was never really a very controlled environment or schedule. Things blew up constantly and I always had to be available to cover them. However, these past 18 months have been busier than I could have imagined, and I didn't have near the free time I thought I would have. I have a few projects that I am not able to announce yet, and it has been a huge commitment of time for me.
KH: Have you ever worn a jack and tie — and shorts — behind the ABC13 anchor desk?
DW: Absolutely not. I had several colleagues that did, mainly some of the sports anchors. I always wore a full suit and tie on the set.
KH: What is the worst fashion photo from you career that makes you shudder when you see it today?
DW: I remember wearing quite a few wild and colorful ties early on, but when I met my wife Laura, she put a stop to that nonsense and has selected and coordinated my wardrobe for the past 18 years. I remember chipping a front tooth once and a photo was taken that really showed it. I just hated that photo, and it seemed to get used by the station quite a bit.
KH: When you closed each newscast with a funny little story, did you ever get uncontrollable giggles and couldn’t finish the story?
DW: No, not really. I wrote those kickers and knew the content well. I selected one each day and wrote it myself. The only time I cracked up on set was usually in response to something Marvin [Zindler] said, and I simply didn't have the time to recover.
KH: After all you’ve seen and done in your career, what goes through your mind when you hear President Trump call the media “enemy of the people.”
DW: I want to quote Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Those are words our president should remember.
KH: Tell the truth, have you ever called your wife “Shara” or “Gina” — two of your co-anchors at ABC13?
DW: No, but she really wouldn’t have minded if I did. I occasionally called my wife by my former wife's name. And that didn't go over too well.
KH: “Dave Ward’s Houston” won’t be a traditional newscast. It will be more story-telling. Is that what you do best?
DW: I think so, at least that's what the majority of people tell me. I enjoy telling stories, always have. These will be historical stories chronicling the rich history of our city. I can't wait to get started. And I hope that my viewers will let me know what they want to hear about it. It's their time.
KH: Were you born with your Mr. TV Anchorman’s voice, or did you have to work at it?
DW: A lot of work went into this voice. When I first entered radio, I had to lose my East Texas twang. It was tough. I had to deepen my voice and improve my resonance. I had my father’s high tenor voice and I worked a long time to lower it. Funny story, but true. When Laura and I first married, she would often say, “Dave, get rid of that voice for a minute or two. Just a tad quieter please.” To which I would reply, “Sweetheart, this is the only voice I've got.” She says I can't whisper. I think she's right about that.
KH: Looking back, what’s been your shining moment on the air … so far?
DW: Prior to the opening of Houston Intercontinental Airport, I flew over the airport in Plane No. 7 of the Navy's Blue Angels, an F-4 Phantom, with myself and the pilot only. My task was to shoot the runways before the airport was opened. I had to shoot upside down with a 16mm camera — black and white, of course — as the pilot inverted the plane. It was amazing and I really captured the essence of our new airport. I was proud of that work.
KH: You retired. Now you’ve un-retired. What’s the etiquette, do you have to return retirement gifts?
DW: I didn't receive nor did I desire any retirement gifts. If you will recall, I said repeatedly that I was not retiring. I asked my viewers to stay with me as I put my next chapter in place. And if social media serves us accurately, they are still in this with me. This segment belongs to them — my loyal and trusting viewers.
Do you have a favorite Dave Ward memory or moment? Let Dave and Ken know in the comments or on Twitter.