I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop, watching Don Shelby's final newscast on WCCO 4 News at 10. It's bittersweet. I'm happy for him as he heads into retirement. He's a grandpa now, and is still full of life, energy and adventure. I'm glad that he gets to move into this phase of his life.
But I feel the very real sadness that must be upon the newsroom tonight. I was a part of that newsroom for about four years, a very tiny fraction of his very long, very successful career.
I remember the first time I ever sat in the newsroom as an intern. Don came strolling into the room that night playing a mournful song on an Irish flute. It was very strange, and I remember thinking, What kind of guy is this he? Is he some new age, ex-hippy tree worshiper? He did that the next two or three nights, as well.
Turns out it was just a fad. I'd quickly learn he goes through a lot of fads, quirky things that he thinks are interesting and tries out for a little while.
I eventually got hired as a production assistant, and then a writer for the 10 pm show and got to sit right next to him. As I got to know him, I realized he is just as much of a great man in real life as he seems on TV. He is genuinely a very kind, funny, enthusiastic, hard-working man, and it always blessed me that he would take time out to talk to me and show a genuine interest in my life and career.
I remember very vividly when I told him I was leaving my producer job to be a stay-at-home mom. He looked me square in the eye and said he was proud of that decision and gave me a hug. Family, to him, was always the most important thing in his life, and I'm so happy he gets to be with his more now.
Don made a big difference in the newsroom. He has been passionate about what he does and has literally changed lives. I'm not saying I agree with everything he is and stands for, but I respect him for doing what he's done and will miss his face on the air from my spot here on the couch.
Best of life, love & family to you, Don. I know your presence will be very dearly missed.