Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Welcome to a tele-family reunion

Wondering what your favorite former anchor/reporter is up to? Here is an update on their whereabouts and reflections on heir time on Las Vegas television:

* Carla Alston -- Then: Reporter and weekend anchor at Channel 8, 1987-95. Now: Reporter for NBC affiliate KUSA in Denver. Alston made a "niche" for herself as a police reporter. Crime stories "were all different, they were all interesting. I'm a real digger, so it was fun to find out who had done it."

* Brian Cabell -- Then: Reporter and host of "Close Up," a political talk show on Channel 13, 1979-81. Now: Southeastern U.S. correspondent for CNN in Atlanta. Cabell was on the scene of the MGM Grand hotel fire in 1980. "It just shook the town and shook us all up. Of course, as a news person, there was an excitement to it as well."

* John Daly -- Then: Anchor at Channel 13, 1990-96. Now: Host of the nationally syndicated television show "Real TV," in Los Angeles. As much as he enjoys the "national attention" he now receives, Daly says he sometimes misses the excitement of breaking news -- and stories that could only happen in Las Vegas, such as the time Channel 13 covered the arrest of a pair of transvestite drugstore robbers. "You're not gonna find that anywhere else."

* Sara Edwards -- Then: Reporter, weekend anchor and co-host of "P.M. Magazine" on Channel 8, 1975-1980. Now: Entertainment reporter and movie critic for NBC affiliate WHDH in Boston. Edwards recalls the old days fondly. "I feel that I saw a side of Vegas that a lot of people will never see because it's changed so much. It was glitter and it was trash and it was fun."

* Mark Garay -- Then: Reporter and morning anchor at Channel 8, 1992-95. Now: Reporter and weekend anchor for ABC station KTRK in Houston. Garay admits being "homesick for Vegas" after leaving. Of Channel 8's wacky morning show crew, he says he'll never forget when weatherman Mark Pfister went on wearing an Elvis costume. "That will forever be etched in my memory."

* Rick Garcia -- Then: Weekend sports anchor at Channel 3, 1983. Now: Sports anchor for Fox affiliate KTTV in Los Angeles since 1985. During Garcia's stint, Las Vegas was brimming with sports activity -- between UNLV's football program and NBA games played at the newly-built Thomas and Mack Center. "I was in heaven at a very early stage of my career."

* Joel Grover -- Then: Reporter and fill-in anchor at Channel 3, 1983-84. Now: Investigative reporter at KCBS in Los Angeles. "When I think back at the big picture" of his time in Las Vegas, Grover says, "I made a lot of mistakes there. It was definitely a learning experience."

* Elisa Hahn -- Then: Reporter and fill-in anchor at Channel 13, 1994-96. Now: Reporter at NBC affiliate KING in Seattle. "No one has news like Las Vegas has news."

* Chuck Hull -- Then: Sports director at Channel 8 from 1953 through the mid-'60s; news director at Channel 5; sports director at Channel 13 through 1971. Now: 21 pit boss at Arizona Charlie's casino. More than his television work, Hull is likely remembered for his 35 years spent announcing boxing matches, especially world title bouts. Television news today, he says, doesn't "cover enough local news. I made it a point to make sure that some of the local high school (sports) stars were shown on TV or talked about. Of course, we were a much smaller town in those days, so you could get by with it."

* Melissa Jue -- Then: Reporter at Channel 8, 1990-94. Now: Reporter at Fox affiliate WAGA in Atlanta. One of Jue's former beats was covering Clark County Commission meetings. "It was always colorful. I still tell stories about going to the meetings." Why did she leave Las Vegas? "I wanted to know if I could make it in this business, and I suppose when you get to a market like Atlanta that you have made it."

* Julie Kirtz -- Then: Reporter at Channel 8, 1986-89. Now: White House reporter for the Fox News Network in Washington, D.C. Las Vegas, Kirtz says, "was a great place to learn how to be a reporter because it was booming and there were good people and good news stories there."

* Rick Larson -- Then: Reporter, sports reporter and weekend anchor at Channel 8, 1970-76. Now: Vice president of staffing and administration for Universal Studios Florida in Orlando. Larson recalls covering mid-weeknight boxing matches at the old Silver Slipper casino. "All the locals would go out to see the fight, see their friends. Business would take place, stories would be swapped, friendships would be rekindled. I remember sitting ringside ... and shooting film for the 11 o'clock news. It was fun."

* Lonni Leavitt -- Then: Reporter at Channel 3, 1988-91. Now: Investigative reporter at KCBS in Los Angeles, working alongside Grover. Leavitt is a Las Vegas native and Chaparral High School graduate. Southern Nevada, she says, "is really where I got my taste for doing investigative reporting. I was trying to do stories that had a little bit more meat to them and Las Vegas is a great place to do that."

* Chuck Moshontz -- Then: Reporter, fill-in sports reporter and weekend anchor at Channel 8, 1976-77. Now: News director and morning anchor at contemporary rock radio station KLOS-FM in Los Angeles. During the '70s, Moshontz recalls how local news folks headed for the Las Vegas Press Club for drinks after work. "It was a small enough community of journalists that we all hung out together," he says. "Disenchanted" with the media, he is currently studying to become a psychotherapist. "It's time to do something for me."

* Kathy Randall -- Then: Reporter and weekend anchor at Channel 8, 1990-94. Now: Reporter at ABC affiliate WISN In Milwaukee. "I really liked interviewing Steve Wynn. He is a real visionary," Randall says. "I think one of the things that lured me (to Las Vegas) in the first place was that there was so much news going on there."

* Doug Smith -- Then: Morning anchor at Channel 13, 1993-94. Now: Weekend anchor at ABC affiliate WFTS in Tampa, Fla. "Vegas is such a happening place," Smith says, "that you could be assigned a story in the morning ... and have a better story by the afternoon. I loved the fact that the world would sometimes be focused on Las Vegas ... and you could feel the electricity in the city."

* Jim Snyder -- Then: Co-anchored the morning and noon newscasts on Channel 3, 1991-94. Now: Anchors morning and midday newscasts at ABC affiliate KOMO in Seattle. Snyder agress with Smith: "The energy of the town and the amount of news that's generated there always gave us plenty to do and it was a fantastic place to learn." There's a chance he may return to work at Channel 3 in the coming months. "I'm not at liberty to discuss everything. It's just something we've talked about a little bit."

* Eric Spillman -- Then: Reporter at Channel 8, 1988-91. Now: Reporter for morning news show on WB affiliate KTLA in Los Angeles. Unlike news coverage in Las Vegas, "very few stations in big cities do that kind of community-oriented TV news," Spillman says. "Especially in the bigger cities, it's kind of 'flash-and-trash,' crime and celebrities and that sort of thing." Here, "it was important to beat the competition with original, enterprising reporting."

* Sheila Strehle -- Then: Reporter and morning news show anchor /producer at Channel 8, 1987-96. Now: Public Information Officer for Seattle Fire Department. When she arrived at Channel 8, at the tender age of 23, Strehle was taken under the wing of the late veteran Las Vegas newsman, Ned Day. "He showed me around town and pointed out who the movers and shakers were. He was just so awesome. I was so green. I has no idea what the significance of having Ned Day as my mentor was until much later."

* Richard Urey -- Then: Reporter at Channel 8, 1983-88; news director at Channel 13, 1989-93. Now: Press secretary for Nevada Gov. Bob Miller. Urey recalls a story that he covered, when a local man was bitten by a deadly brown recluse spider, that set off wave of arachnophobia. "I had people bringing spiders in jars to the station for me to analyze," he says. "This went on for like two weeks -- there was a spider update (on the news) at least every other day."

* Gail Westrup -- Then: Reporter at Channel 13 in 1977; reporter, weekend and weeknight anchor at Channel 8, 1978-84. Now: Real estate agent in Sacramento, Calif. In '79, when Westrup covered the legislature in Carson City for Channel 8, "we didn't have any kind of live facilities then. We went out and shot our tape in the morning and figured out our big story of the day before noon. Then, the cameraman had to drive to the airport and ship (the film) down via airplane."

* Brooke Willis -- Then: Reporter and fill-in anchor at Channel 8, 1989-93. Now: Reporter and anchor for ABC affiliate WHAS in Louisville, Ky. Willis recites something she learned from a former Channel 8 co-worker. "George Knapp told me once that no matter what happens anywhere else, there's always a Las Vegas connection, and that's so true."

* Barry ZeVan -- Then: Weatherman at Channel 8 from 1967-68, and at Channel 13 from 1969-70. Now: Vice president of program development for a Los Angeles-based production company and director of public relations for Grand Casinos in Minnesota. ZeVan was known as the "Peek-a-Boo Weatherman." "I used to poke my head around, looking at the audience in the camera, but kind of sideways. That was the attraction," he says, along with his celebrity guests, who included Robert Goulet, Buddy Hackett and George Carlin.