Former Omaha anchormen (and women!) look back at their time behind the desk -
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Not former Omaha anchormen.

Former Omaha anchormen (and women!) look back at their time behind the desk
By Bob Fischbach / World-Herald staff writer

Sweet Lincoln's mullet.

Ron Burgundy is back. This television god walking amongst mere mortals has taken that voice that could make a wolverine purr to a 24-hour news channel in New York City.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” opened last night.

We asked some former Omaha television news anchors what they think about Ron. About his move. About his definition of diversity. About how “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” depicted television news, circa 1977, when it came out in 2004.

Mostly, we wanted to know if they ever met anyone in the TV newsroom with an outsize ego like Burgundy's. Do we hear snickers? Stay classy, Omaha. Here's what the pros had to say about the world of “Anchorman.”

Loretta Carroll, KMTV anchor, 1986-2001

Owner, Carroll Communications public relations firm

The first time I saw it, I wouldn't say it had a huge impact. But over time I've grown to appreciate it more and more. In my family, it's a living, breathing thing. My brother does an imitation of Ron Burgundy, we start laughing and nobody recovers.

Let's face it: Ron Burgundy is alive and well in broadcasting in Omaha and cities all over.

Funny things happen in TV newsrooms. If you're in the business and you watch that movie, you can't help but remember some of the calamities and funny people you've worked with — some deliberately funny, and some not.

People in TV news are always getting advice from people on their appearance. That's just part of the job. Ask someone about TV news, and they tell you who they love or hate the most. Then they talk about the quirky person they don't understand. Everybody has their own Ron Burgundy.

Oversize egos? (Laughs out loud.) Did anybody you talked to say no to that? Call them back and tell them to try harder. I don't think that's a slam. Teams in business everywhere have Ron Burgundys in one form or another. Parts of him, not the whole. But in Omaha, if you need to be a star, you're not in the right place.

TV producers are the funniest of all. Even more intense than the on-air people. Every once in a while, it has to go someplace. It's amazing they're not all in therapy.

Deborah Ward, KMTV reporter and anchor, 1980-2006

Director of public relations, Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

When the first movie came out, Channel 3 had just gone to an Action News format.

Greg Peterson (now an anchor in Mobile, Ala.) always carried a harmonica with him. In the movie when Ron Burgundy pulls out a flute, I thought, “That's Greg Peterson.”

The first time I watched it, I thought it wasn't that funny. But when you repeat the lines, it gets funnier. You start relating, seeing things in the newsroom and thinking, “That was in the movie.”

When I first started back in the 1980s, the business was very male-dominated. Women did have to fight their way in. And the leisure suits, the mustaches, the big hair — I show my daughters pictures of me back in the day and they ask, “Mom, why were you wearing a wig?”

Oversize egos? (Laughs out loud.) Oh, absolutely. You have to have an ego to get on TV and read the news. But they were all good-natured. It's not like you couldn't tell them to their face that their ego was getting in the way.

Carol Schrader, KETV reporter and anchor, 1977-96

Now sells real estate for DEEB Realty

I wasn't a huge Will Ferrell fan till “Talladega Nights.” Snippets of the original movie didn't do it for me, but it contained pieces of the truth that were exaggerated. I loved that long spiel Veronica (Christina Applegate) had in the movie about being an anchorwoman in a man's world.

People look at anchors personally and read into them what they want. They see things that probably don't exist. That hasn't changed.

I don't know of any preening anchors, and I've met most of the current ones. Rob McCartney is a solid news guy who never preened a day in his life. But he did brush his eyebrows back. It's a very visual medium. You have to pay attention to appearance.

“Broadcast News” was the most realistic movie depiction of the business. The fake crying, the run down the hall with a reel of film, that adrenaline. Everything.

Rebecca Kleeman, WOWT reporter and fill-in anchor, 1999-2007

Millard Public Schools public relations

I loved the movie, but it probably has very little semblance to actual TV news.

The challenge in TV news, always, is going up against the written word, trying to catch people's attention in a busy world with what comes down to a sound bite. Most people in broadcast news are thinking beyond what they can put in a minute-and-30-second story. They'd like to do a long piece, but they just can't.

I have actually never known anyone to live up to the ego of Ron Burgundy. Maybe in very small markets when you're just starting out you run into people who think it's more important than it is. But most people I knew just wanted to tell a great story.

You do hit stress and frustration. You're working on a deadline, and news attracts passionate people who really care about what they do. The veterans who have been around the longest are there for a reason. They have incredible storytelling abilities. You're not going to survive in the business if you're in it for yourself.

I don't know if I'll get to the new movie. I have a family and I'm working full time. Usually if I watch a movie these days, it's “Thomas the Train.” But I'll see it at some point.

Michael Scott, KETV anchor, 1986-93

Currently seeking work in television news

That movie is so funny. I've had phone calls from three different sets of people who want to see this new one with me. They all used to work at KETV.

Before I started in Omaha, I worked in Denver. It was a very competitive market. That whole rivalry thing in the movie was like Denver. Back in the '80s, it was the only game in town. No cable. No Xbox. Competition was killer. No street wars, but ratings wars.

Carol Schrader was my Omaha co-anchor. She did not have to fight to make her presence known in the newsroom the way Veronica did in the movie. Carol was a credible female journalist.

But the movie did have some semblance of reality. In our heyday, we were dominant (in the ratings). Then Mark Pettit came in (at KMTV). I was driving a black BMW. Mark Pettit also bought one, and the license plate read ANCRMAN. (Ron Burgundy's vanity plate: IM #1.)

Yes, there are egos. I used to work with Bill O'Reilly in Denver. I'd been at the station a couple days, and I kept hearing O'Reilly stories. I walked into his office, introduced myself. He's 6-foot-5, towered over me. I said, “Word around here is you're pretty much a jerk.” He said, “Oh, good.” He loved it. He'd walk into the newsroom after a show and yell at the producer that he didn't get as many pages to read as his co-anchor. But I really liked and respected the guy.

I loved the 1970s and '80s. I'm looking forward to seeing the new movie because of that.

Carol Wang, KMTV anchor, 2007-2012

Metropolitan Omaha Medical Society executive director

Before Omaha, I was anchoring in Dallas, working for the NBC station. NBC Universal produced “Anchorman.” They rented out a whole movie theater, and I saw it with my TV news colleagues. It was a party atmosphere. We all had little jokes about certain people's idiosyncracies. It was fun to laugh at each other and ourselves.

I think (the movie reflects) a certain time period in TV news. It was difficult for women to start in TV news back then, intimidating and uncomfortable. If you listen to the stalwarts who have been in the newsroom forever and a day, they have great stories of people drinking during the day, smoking at their desks, having martini lunches between shows. Of course, I never got to experience any of that.

I always say “Broadcast News” got it right. Joan Cusack making that long run with the videotape. If you were in TV news before digital editing, that really did happen. Now it's just a panic for a file to completely load. Newscasts are a testament to miracles every day. Thank goodness for divine intervention or we'd never make it on the air.

I'll see the new movie at some point. I have to admit I'm intrigued and nostalgic.

Yes, I have met some people who have Ron Burgundyesque qualities, who are bigger than life — especially in their own minds. We used to color-code the type in the scripts so we knew who was to read what. One male co-anchor I worked with insisted he had to have the green scripts because green is the color of money. I didn't care. It wasn't a big deal to me, but it was to him.

Doug Parrott, KETV reporter and morning anchor, 1973-88

Executive vice president, Bailey Lauerman advertising and public relations

I thought “Anchorman” was funny, but there wasn't a lot of realism. There are snippets. Really amusing things happen on the set, so there were a few “Aha!” moments. You're live, and anything can happen.

The most accurate portrayal of a TV newsroom was in “Broadcast News.” I once bowled over an intern while running with a reel of film. But there's a camaraderie in an anchor team that's accurate in “Anchorman.” They need to get close to come off right on air.

I may watch this new one at some point, but there are higher-quality movies I want to see first.

Yeah, I've known anchors with egos. Not to the level of Burgundy, but certainly anchors I've dealt with who are pretty full of themselves — some a little more than others. But an anchor is known everywhere in town, so they're bound to feed into that.

Sheila Brummer, WOWT reporter and anchor, 2008-2011

Now co-anchor on KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa

I thought the original movie was hilarious, except I lost interest during the fight scene. I watched it in a movie theater full of TV newspeople. I was working in Des Moines when it came out, and a local theater invited every news station in town to a midnight showing.

I do think it captures some of the craziness behind the scenes. Newsrooms are usually full of fun times behind the scenes, because it's a stressful job. I also heard sexism was rampant in the early days of TV news.

I really enjoyed “Broadcast News.” It shows the struggle of journalists who don't have model-like looks, and it depicts the producers behind the scene.

Egos? I've been lucky to work with some great people over the years. John Knicely at WOWT is one of the best. He's more than just a news reader.

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

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