Kevin Kelly can tell a story. Just ask anyone who's tried to brush by him in the hallway of a TV station. But you'd better pack a lunch, because the man known as 'The Silver Fox' has spent nearly four decades traveling up and down the dial. Today that long, strange trip came to an end as Kevin officially retired from his assignment editor post at El Ocho. We only had him for eight years. In fact, this five time News Director had already won scores of awards, fans and followers by the time he wandered through our door. Viewers from Massachusetts to Maine to Ohio to both the Carolinas watched their newscasts improve under his tutelage. From slinging a newfangled Bell and Howell film camera to building a newsroom from scratch, Kevin Kelly has repeatedly displayed guts and integrity in an industry that rewards neither. He once filled 25 positions from a pool of 940 applicants, no doubt earning acolytes and enemies along the way.
But that never stopped Kevin Kelly from speaking his mind. Known for his gravely voice and intense candor, Kevin was never afraid to call a spade an effin' shovel, no matter who was listening. If more managers shot that straight, you'd have a better newscast to ignore every evening. As it is, Kevin's plainspoken ways and sober-eyed assessments are usually on target. Then again, it's hard to bullshit a guy who mastered the art of news-gathering before you ever figured out your primary colors. Countless are the times I'd watch Kevin Kelly dole out assignments to folks who could be his Grandchildren. What must that feel like - to bite your tongue while a twenty-something colleague makes gross assertions about a world they've not even bothered to explore - I don't yet know. But at the rate I'm aging, I'll probably soon find out.
As for Kevin, he rightly considers himself a realist. Thirty seven years of paying attention to the world around you will do that to a fellow. That's way more than most folks will spend in broadcasting these days, which makes Kevin part of a vanishing breed: a newsroom survivalist who's accumulated worldview knows no logo. People tell me I should write a book. Not until I have the kind of material Kevin Kelly does. He'll tell you of towing live trucks to breaking news scenes, of shooting wrecks on the way home at night just to fill the next morning's newscast, of hand delivering reels of freshly-shot film to Greyhound bus stations so that the news of the day could travel throughout the land. It's those priceless parables we at El Ocho will miss the most. For eight years, we've listened to the wisdom of one mortal man who's spent a lifetime offering sacrifices to the News Gods and lived to tell the tales. Try fitting THAT into a fifteen second tease.
Enjoy your new den, Silver Fox...