THE LONGEST RUNNING TV SHOW

For 31 years, there was a series on Channel 7 in Boston. It was my favorite show. I watched it any day I could get home from work in time. It was on several times a day, five days a week. The first performance often aired during the pre-dawn hours, while the final day’s episode might air long after most people had finished dinner and many had gone to bed.

It was “good stuff.” Garry Armstrong was a smart, thorough reporter who cared about Boston and its people. He knew everyone and they knew him. He makes jokes about being trusted … but he was trusted because he had proved he could be. He had sources. He checked with them. He knew when the a story wasn’t “right” and he was cynical about politicians and big money.

Watching Garry kept me informed about events taking place in my neighborhood, the city, and the region. I also got follow-up and background information over dinner — sometimes quite different than what had been aired. There was stuff you could broadcast, and there was stuff that he and other reporters “knew,” but couldn’t prove.

It was sometimes difficult to reconcile the star of the TV show with the tired, crabby guy who came home expecting dinner, a newspaper, and when we were lucky, a baseball game. I always knew how the star’s day had gone. I taped his pieces so he could see them when he got home. Although he covered stories, wrote them, and performed, he didn’t see them as finished pieces unless I taped them.

I watched the news as I also watched him deal with violence and the calamities that are a constant in every reporter’s life. He never got used to it. Garry was, in a regional way — a celebrity. I was the celebrity’s wife — a very different role. My job was often to be there and smile. Television “people” don’t pay much attention to anyone who isn’t part of their habitat. At a good event, I got fed too.  I even got to wear ball gowns occasionally and I met some people I would never have normally encountered in my life.

Garry covered, or was involved with, virtually every major event in New England for his run of 31 years. From the great to the tragic, he was there.

Garry and I at President Clinton's party on Martha's Vineyard

Garry and I at President Clinton’s party on Martha’s Vineyard

We have one of Garry’s three Emmy awards on a shelf behind the TV, but virtually no tape of anything that happened. I don’t remember who found the piece below, but it’s a rare viewing of him doing normal work on a normal day in the news biz. Garry’s segment appears at about 1 minute and 30 seconds into the noon news. You can fast forward and skip the intro or choose to watch from the top of the show.

That was a “live shot.”

Time passes. It’s good to have something tangible to remember. Lucky me, I still have the star himself.

On September 12, 2013, Garry Armstrong was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

We keep the plaque on the mantel. His one remaining Emmy (Channel 7 lost the other two) is on a shelf that Owen built, along with his Kauff award and one other big one, the name of which I have forgotten. Amazing the things you forget even though at some point in your life, you couldn’t imagine ever forgetting something that important. His “Silver Circle” Lifetime Emmy hangs on the wall, too and there are other awards here and there in the house.

What is important changes over time. As time marches along, life and day-to-day events become more important than whatever career you had — except on days when the guys get together to remember.

That more or less wraps it up. I think it’s going to rain today.

32 thoughts on “THE LONGEST RUNNING TV SHOW

    • Squirrel, they probably cut me off because I always exceeded the time alloted to my on air reports. When I went “over”, someone else lost time. Tough!! A producer once threatened to give me the “hook”. Didn’t stop me.

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  1. The true award, which doesn’t exist is the fact that Gary lasted over 40 years at one station. In the TV world, as an on air personality, very very very very few people can claim to belong to that club. Quite frankly, he’s the only one.

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    • I think he had the longest run at a single station, but there was on other guy, but he was on two stations. Garry always calls his “lifetime achievement” award as his “dodging the bullets” award. If you keep you head down for long enough, they give you a prize.

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    • Pancho, many tried to take down the legendary Samoan. He outlasted **32** suits who thought they were tougher and smarter. Most are now in the News Directors/General Managers Potters Field. Stray dogs water their graves, overgrown with weeds.

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  2. WOW…what a pleasure to have met you and Garry on Jordan’s show. I grew up in So. Calif from the 1950’s-1993 and always watched the TV news instead of reading the daily paper. Film news always says so much more to the viewers…THANK YOU Garry for a great job…WELL DONE…Pard…!!!

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  3. What a wonderful way to commemorate a “life time” achievement, because really, that is what Garry’s work amounts to. I feel honoured to have witnessed him on tv, first hand. Didn’t happen often, but it did happen.

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      • CBC was a first rate News outlet. Sadly, under the last Prime Minister’s reign, they were threatened with budget cuts (which did happen) when they told the truth instead of what he wanted broadcast. It’s been a rough ride for the CBC the last few years, fortunately we managed to oust the bugger! Sorry but it infuriates me when a demi god tries to control the nation.

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