1,624 Toys For Tots

1,624.  That is the grand total of toys, books, and stuffing stuffers dropped off at the WDAZ Toys For Tots Truck over a two week period in late November and early December.  1,624.  That’s a lot of toys.  And a lot of generous people on the giving end.  And on the receiving end, 587 children and 238 families are going to have the kind of Christmas everyone deserves.

Thank you to all who donated.  It was amazing to watch cars pull into the parking lot non-stop and fill our truck from Whalen’s Moving and Storage.

When people ask me why I live here in the frozen tundra, I think I know what my new answer is going to be.

Toys for Tots

WDAZ-TV and Whalen’s Moving and Storage have once again joined forces to help the Toys For Tots program! Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the truck during the next two weeks and help a child who might otherwise go without this Christmas Season!

This is our second year being involved in the program, and if last year is any indication, it’s going to be huge.  Whalen’s has loaned us a truck that is three times larger than last year.

And we intend to fill it.  With your help!

Rob Hudson

Exciting day here at WDAZ.  Our new anchor, Rob Hudson, will be behind the news desk at 6 and 10:00 tonight!  Rob will be taking over the position vacated by Charley Johnson on May 31st.

I think our viewers are going to love Rob.  He’s a good guy and it comes through on camera.  Rob is originally from Elk River, Minnesota and he comes to us via Missoula, Montana.  He loves hockey, fishing and hunting.  Although I suspect his hockey allegiances might need some fine tuning.  Nonetheless, please welcome him to our airwaves and to our area.

So Long, Charley

Charley Johnson

We here at WDAZ-TV are sad to announce that veteran newsman Charley Johnson is leaving our airwaves.  This morning at a news conference in Fargo, Charley was introduced as the new head of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Charley has been with us for about a year and a half, and in those 18 months he’s been an absolute team player.  He’s been a mentor to all, and his philosophies and work ethic will leave a lasting impression on everyone in our newsroom.  But the way he lit up the room when he entered each day at 2:00 is what will be missed the most.  Newsrooms are a funny mix of humor and deadlines.  And storytelling.  And Charley was one of the best.  At all three.

Charley’s one of the good guys.  When people ask me about him, I reply with, “He’s the real deal.”  And his love of the Minnesota Twins and beer and digging for stories made him a great fit.  His last day at WDAZ will be May 31st.

Our loss is F-M’s gain.

Good luck, Chuck.

Toys for Tots: WDAZ

WDAZ (L), Whalen's Truck (R)

It’s always fun to be part of a “good cause,” so in the effort to make Christmas a little more merry for area kids we at WDAZ decided to use our promotional clout to help the Toys for Tots efforts.  We’ve teamed with Whalen’s Moving and Storage (they provided the truck) to ask for donations of new, unwrapped toys for area children.  You can drop off your gift at WDAZ-TV located at 2220 South Washington Street in Grand Forks between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. between today and next Tuesday.

WDAZ anchors Molly Thorvilson, Charley Johnson, Pat Sweeney and Terry Dullum preparing for our Toys for Tots promotional spot.

Reunion Story

I got a phone call from a Grand Forks woman last week and she told me that there seemed to be a lot of bad news in the world, to which I agreed.  She then proceeded to offer me some “good news.”

I accepted.  And I’m glad I did.

It turns out that twenty years ago, the caller had given her two year old son up for adoption.  She felt that he needed a better chance at life with another family, and made what has to be one of the more painful decisions a person would ever have to make.

As time went by, she longed to reconnect with her son.  It took years for her to gather the courage to try and reach out to him, afraid of possible rejection.  So very recently she took to Facebook to connect with him.  She sent a friend request.  And just minutes later, he accepted.

Fast forward a few weeks to yesterday at the Fargo airport.  With a television crew at her side, the mother waited for her son that she hadn’t seen for twenty years to step off his United Airlines flight.  You can imagine the moment.

I’m happy to say that I was part of that television crew, and that I dusted off my photography skills, if only for just a day.

I can’t speak for the mother, but I could barely breathe as I waited for her son to finish the last twenty feet of their twenty year journey.  The moment was so overwhelming that I’m sure no one noticed the tough guy camera man with the tear in his eye.

Good news, indeed.

Friday Photo

It’s usually not a good sign when you arrive at your workplace and there is a large piece of destructive equipment sitting out front.  Poised and ready to destruct.  But once I was assured that WDAZ wasn’t being torn down I ventured in to work.  Turns out our parking lot and sidewalks are being upgraded.  If you get the chance, please notice the nice photography skills.  I used a technique I like to call “framing.”  I still got “it.”

Well Hello…Molly

Sadly, my new job as WDAZ-TV News Director has taken away some of the time devoted to my other job at the offices of The Tales.  And with the departure to the East Coast of TV’s Cassie Walder, a large portion of that time has been devoted to finding her replacement.  I’m not sure of Cassie’s shoe size, but in a figurative sense, they were quite large to fill.  And time consuming.  But we wanted to get it right.

Well, the search has ended.  And I think we did a pretty good job.  Our new weekday 6 and 10 Co-Anchor is Molly Thorvilson.  Molly is from Plymouth, Minnesota, on the Twin Cities’ northwest edge.  She’s been working in southern Iowa and went to college at the University of Iowa.  She brings a ton of talent and enthusiasm to our newsroom and her pairing with veteran newsman Charley Johnson is very exciting.

Charley Johnson and Molly Thorvilson

Molly’s first day on the air is Monday, June 20th.  We hope you watch.


Friday Photo


From L to R: Brady Mallory, Terry Dullum, Charley Johnson.

A strange thing happened Monday in the WDAZ newsroom.  And that’s a very bold statement because most days have some strange occurrence at a television station.

It was early in the afternoon when I noticed that our two veteran news anchors were wearing fairly similar green shirts.  As I arose from my office to give them grief, relative newcomer Brady Mallory happened upon the scene wearing…you guessed it…a shirt from the same shade of green family.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity for a blog I took a picture with my BlackBerry (you know, since I can’t make or receive any phone calls with it.  The switch from Alltel to AT&T has been so annoying and aggravating…but I digress.)

So there you have it.  Three guys wearing very similar colored shirts.  And they swear they didn’t call or text each other.  I have my doubts.  I think they were making some kind of statement.

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