I grew up a TV junkie — an only child living in one of the first cable TV markets in the country. I watched everything: cartoons in the morning, PBS in the afternoon, sitcoms in the evening, basically any sporting event that was televised. We were one of those houses where the TV was always on, even if there was no one in particular actually watching it. When we sat down for dinner, the news was on in the living room in the background.
On Saturdays, oh blessed Saturdays, I would actually get up earlier than I did for school because God forbid I missed out on a single minute of the children’s programming orgy of Hanna-Barbera animated masterpieces, Sid & Marty Krofft’s trippy, bizarre puppet alternate universes, and of course, sugary cereal and action-packed toy commercials. I was in heaven.
Sundays we hosted family dinners for my aunts and uncles and cousins and the TV was a non-stop source of sports. Baseball in the summer, football in the winter, and golf (yes, golf) in the spring. We would gather in my grandmother’s kitchen for our big family meal, and I would position myself closest to the door to the living room where I could monitor the cadence of whatever announcer was on and jump up to see what was happening if he got overly exuberant. It was the 1970s version of having your smartphone at the table I guess, but somehow my parents allowed it (mostly because the men were all as interested in the broadcast as I was).
As I got older I started watching the evening news with my grandfather every night, after paging through the evening newspaper we had delivered. (We got The Morning Call in the morning and The Globe-Times in the evening. Yes, two newspapers. Remember that?)
What happened was I became a news junkie. For a kid living in what I thought was the middle of nowhere, but in actuality was exactly halfway between New York City and Philadelphia, there was an awful lot going on the world as the ’70s turned into the ’80s, and the news was my window to the world.I remember the Philadelphia ABC affiliate always had a year-end one-hour special reviewing the biggest stories of the year and wrapping up the hour with a countdown of the top newsmakers.
One year, they named Jerry Garcia one of the top newsmakers because of a series of sold-out Grateful Dead shows at Philadelphia’s Spectrum. I had never heard of the Grateful Dead but the filmed interview with Garcia, interspersed with footage of the band onstage and, more memorably, the crowd watching, was like a glimpse into a world I hadn’t known existed.
From there I joined my 8th-grade class newspaper, and then my high school newspaper and yearbook staffs. By the time I got to college I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to do for a living.
I’ve spent the last almost 25 or so years reporting on the news and every year at this time I look forward to the end-of-year reviews in magazines, on TV, on the radio, on YouTube. Human beings, though we are always looking forward, tend to enjoy looking back once in a while.
Here at TWICE, we are no different. The technology world spins ever faster and the breathtaking speed of innovation doesn’t allow for much reflection. But someone’s gotta do it, as they say, so we did it for you.
Our Newsmakers of the Year report is our way of catching up and taking a breather all at the same time. A few weeks from now we’ll be at CES with our heads spinning. So before we tackle head-on the timeless march forward of technology, it helps to stop for a few moments, take a breath, and digest what it was we just lived through.
2017, you were one for the ages. Here’s to a productive (and better) 2018.