Funny the things that can happen when you’re just hanging out watching life go by. I wish I could tell you that this was all planned, that I had some clear vision of how all of this would turn out, but I did not. And now, here I am, some fifty years later, just wondering where the time went.
In 1970, when I was a freshman in college, I went to work at a Dallas television station as a “gopher,” meaning it was my job to “go for” this and “go for” that, but that’s not what I had in mind for myself. At that time, I had my eye on the job that seemed most realistic for a person like me, someone who had a lot of desire but not much else to offer an employer…the job of television news photographer. I landed that one in less than two months and moved on to becoming a news reporter, too. Check, about two months later.
I loved my job. I got to travel with the Dallas Cowboys shooting their games from the sidelines of football stadiums all over the country. I got to cover politics and the police and courts beat. But I also had to sit through a lot of school board meetings and city council meetings and county commissioners meetings, film car wrecks and tornadoes and just about every form of death and destruction human people can think of. It didn’t take long until I found myself seeking a respite from the calamity of human existence witnessed daily by a television reporter.
I found salvation in the form of a CBS news reporter named Charles Kuralt who traveled America’s back roads in search of good news, stories about ordinary people living, in even the smallest way, extraordinary lives. And, somehow, I talked my boss into letting me give that style of reporting a try in Texas in the form of a weekly half- hour television show about the people, the history and the culture of The Lone Star State.
Recently, we celebrated 50 years of the longest running independently produced TV show in American television history. Texas Country Reporter has been on the air every week since 1972, first in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, then all over Texas and, now, all over the lower 48 states via RFD-TV and worldwide via our YouTube channel. The show has fans in Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Australia and several Asian countries. But no fan of the show is more important than you.
Around the time we celebrated fifty years, I shared that Texas Monthly had acquired Texas Country Reporter. I knew that eventually, one day, we’d pass the baton to a new storyteller—someone who loves Texas and a good, long drive. Two years later, that day is finally on the horizon.
Season 52 will be mine and Kelli’s last as hosts, and next September there will be a new face behind the wheel of Texas Country Reporter. His name is J.B. Sauceda, and y’all will be able to get to know him over our social media channels over the next year.
But there’s a lot of road between now and then, full of amazing stories. As always, you’re invited to hop in and travel with us.