Former WHAS reporter John Shumway remembers Chuck Olmstead

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WHAS11.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 3:10 PM

Dear Friends,

It may be 20 years since I left you and came to Pittsburgh, but in many ways my heart never did. I still find myself checking in on your website just to see what's happening "back home."

So it is with a very heavy heart that I write to remember Chuck. Chuck had only been at WHAS for a couple of years when I arrived from Lexington and he intimidated the beegeebers out of me. I was a lowly radio reporter and he was bigger than life. But the intimidation was all in my mind and Chuck and I quickly fell into a mutual respect as reporters while I was in radio.

Chuck Olmstead taught me two things that truly shaped my life.

1) How to be a "real" television reporter. I watched from my radio microphone how Chuck would handle interviews, and live shots. He never let "being on TV" get the upperhand and showed me how to use a liveshot to really bring the viewer to the story. I never will forget a chlorine leak at the water plant.....when Live on the noon news Chuck essentially walked into the front door of the building they were ventilating of the chlorine only to come back towards the camera kind of coughing and describing the smell and feeling of the gas. I was impressed, until I tried to do it for radio and got yelled at by a cop. Chuck never lost sight of who was important in a story and knew how to do live TV. Everything I do on the air today was born out of watching him. To this day the screen saver on my computer in the KDKA-TV newsroom scrolls the mantra I believe I learned from Chuck, "Journalism - it is about THEM - not us."

2) How to weigh priorities and be a good Dad. I will never forget that incredibly jealous feeling when Chuck left WHAS to join WCBS in New York. Wow! He was living the dream we all shared back in those days....make it to the next bigger market....climb the ladder.....get to New York or even The Network! There he was off to the big time. But a year later here came Chuck, back to the WHAS, back to the 47th market. I never will forget the conversation we had shortly after his return. I had gone by his home to drop something off and we stood in his driveway and he told me his New York war stories of slugging it out in the trenches of the nastiest media market in the country. But then he said this, "It just wasn't me." He went on to talk about how he was doing the job in a cookie cutter - go her say this - just get it on the air style and he hated it. He hated the hours, and most of all he missed his family. As he talked about missing Candy and the boys his voice softened and he said he realized what was really important in life. So he quit....and he came back to Louisville. And he was content. As a Dad of two wonderful children of my own, I have never forgotten that lesson and to this never have never envied someone moving on to "the big city."

So Donnie, Doug, Pete, Steve, Melissa, Gary and the rest of my friends back home - as you say goodbye to Chuck this week - please know that I will be with you in spirit.

Chuck, youshowed me the way.....and my friend for that I will be forever grateful.

John Shumway

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