Guess what everybody, I’m headed to WMC Channel 5 AND I’ll be working at WHBQ Fox 13.

Those are the rumors that have picked up steam in the last couple of months as my non-compete runs out. I think the WMC rumor stems from the fact that I had lunch back in August with 5’s ND Peggy and was working with some of my wife’s PR clients over at 13. Several good friends have asked when I’ll be back on the air in the Memphis area. I’ve told them while I never say never, I’m not sure it’s going to happen, at least in the area of news. More on that in a minute.

Speaking of getting out of the news business, one of the first people I met when I moved to Memphis was a former reporter from down on the river by the name of Earl Farrell. If you’ve ever met Earl, you know he’s quick with a joke or snappy comment in that growl of a voice, and never met a person he didn’t like or at least wouldn’t say hello to. When I first met Earl he was a partner I think in “Sleep Out Louie’s” in downtown Memphis. Earl had just gotten out of the news business and was telling me how glad he was to have put it behind him. But somewhere along the way, something happened at Sleep Out’s and Earl found himself looking for a job. He briefly reported again at 3 and was later working mornings at WMC for a while. After a few other things, he started producing a show called “My Favorite Restaurant” which airs on the PBS affiliate here in Memphis and also airs in Texas. He’s done well with that.

My wife and I had a chance to have lunch with him last summer and he was talking about restaurants again. Now I see in today’s CA that Earl is opening an eatery in the old Friday’s location at Overton Square. It’s called “Garcia Wells Southwestern Grill”. If you get the chance, stop by for a drink or a bite to eat when it opens. It’s the least you can do for a person who used to be in the news business and still trying to find life after it. While Earl may not buy you a drink, I’ll bet he’ll tell you a joke and chances are, you won’t be able to repeat it to your mom.

I also see that one of the most popular threads in the “Watercooler” section of TV Spy these days has been “I’m so glad to be out of Television”. At this writing it has 118 responses and has been going since 12/22/2005. I think they’ve just about beaten it into the ground. Check out some of the comments at .

I talked to my long time friend Jack recently about the news business. He and I started working together in Jackson, TN where I anchored the news and he was sports director. Jack and his wife Pam (who is the most generous, kindhearted and tolerant person you’ll ever meet) have traveled the country as he went from station to station. Jack eventually moved into meteorology and has his degree and seal of approval and has worked at news operations in Missouri to Florida to Texas, to California and to New York State. He has walked away from the news business more often than Vanderbilt has lost to Tennessee. (Okay, not that many times) He’s also worked in TV sales and in sales of equipment for TV. Jack has gotten around and you can just about say that if it has to do with TV, Jack has been there and done that.

I managed to catch up with Jack recently and he and I talked about the TV business and my future. Jack described the news business as being similar to being an athlete. I’m adding to his analogy here. Basically you get the adrenaline pumping for your next performance and you hustle and hustle, trying to get where you need to be on the field or court. The adrenaline rush can sustain you for a while but once the game is over; you realize you have to have another “fix”. It’s the same way in news.

As long as you don’t get hurt and the team does well, everything is fine and you’re looking forward to another round of beating the clock and the competition. But the truth is it takes more than adrenaline to keep you going. A person has to have substance and in the last few years, it seems that is harder to come by.

I left the business in part because I felt drained and exhausted from 25-years in the business. I felt it had sucked the life and energy from me. Like an aging athlete, I wanted to quit before I got traded or booted.

Jack told me it’s easy to be seduced by the siren call of TV news. Like I’ve blogged before, everyone who isn’t in it wants to be and those in it, want to get out. Jack’s returned to the business several times and says at most, it only takes a couple of weeks before you regret having done so. He says the last time, the feeling of regret came just seconds before he went on the air for the first time at his new job.

Jack has managed to parlay his experience into a job where he sells stuff TO television stations now. He’s home on holidays with the kids these days and manages to be there for those special events.

So, will I go back into TV news? I don’t know. I’d like to do something related to TV, but I don’t think it will be the news business.

But like I said, “Never say never”. It will get you every time.

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19 Comments on “Guess what everybody, I’m headed to WMC Channel 5 AND I’ll be working at WHBQ Fox 13.”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    This is off the subject, but did you ever enjoy some of the theme music the station used?

  2. bishop Says:

    If on eof theother stations gave you an offer, would you take it? Looking at the fact that you are not working right now and who doesn’t need good income. You are really missed on TV. I think it would be good for you to come back.

  3. Joe Larkins Says:

    On the topic of offers, I’m always open to hear what folks have to say. Whether I would take it, depends on the offer. As I’ve said before, never say never.
    As for the theme music, I actually liked the old “Hello Memphis, Channel 3 loves you” music package that was used when I first got there. We had some music on the morning show a while back that got on my nerves about the second time I heard it. You always prayed for short bumps back then.

  4. Joan Carr Says:

    Good luck at ActionNewsFox5!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Was the “Hello Memphis, channel 3 loves you” music when they would show like downtown and the clark tower?

  6. Joe Larkins Says:

    It seems to me that the news open started over the Mississippi River looking back to the east toward the Memphis skyline and kind of swung over the Hernando Deosoto Bridge before effecting to anchors and top story video.

  7. Tif Says:

    I still think you should host a home renovation show 🙂

  8. Eric Lipford Says:

    Joe… was the “annoying” theme the one that started with the new “newsroom” set back in 1997?

    I hated that bump music! I liked the one before it, with the trolley.

  9. John Says:

    FWIW, there is a website that has old TV news theme music ( It even has some of the specific themes, just audio, not video, from WREG through the years, as well as the other stations in Memphis and anywhere in the country. Unfortunately the Hello News campaign wasn’t one of them, but they have its generic theme online as well as versions from other cites that used it.

    I’m really enjoying the blog, Joe. Great stuff!

  10. Joe Larkins Says:

    Eric, you must know the music I’m talking about because it arrived with the new newsroom. I know after about 20-seconds (and sometimes those bumps went longer) it was all I could do to keep MBC from having a coniption. I think that’s what actually caused my hair to go gray! That’s how annoying it was.
    I will have to check out the site with the old theme music John.
    Tif, it we start a home improvement show, any suggestions for a house to start on?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Is ” First News ” by frank gari, the theme your thinking about?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    The ” Hello Memphis ” theme your refering to may be the ” Palmer News Package ” WREG TV used that theme.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    “Hello Memphis” was long before the Palmer package. It also came before “Great News,” which was the theme used over the Clark Tower video.

    “Hello Memphis” was a theme used by stations all over the country, personalized for each market. It was part of a larger “station image” package that included a song ending with, “Hello, Memphis, Channel 3 loves you!” It was quite catchy. Perhaps some markets will revive it someday.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    So “Great News” was the one that showed the clark tower? During “Great news” they did not say anything during the video right?

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Was that song put out by channel 13 that went like Memphis is watching channel 13 part of a station image effort?

  16. Anonymous Says:

    There were a couple of versions of the “Great News” open. The longer one included an announcer voice-over with video of the anchors. The short version was music only.

    Channel 13 had a campaign called “Reaching Out to You” that was incorporated into its opens.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I think that the “Hello Memphis” bumper/open that was used in the mid-1980’s on Channel 3 had a shot of the Downtown Memphis skyline which was before the Morgan Keegan Tower was built. Then there were shots of the Memphis scene such as the Hernado DeSoto bridge, the Peabody ducks, the Memphis Showboats and a shot of the Memphis skyline. The only thing that I can remember about the “Hello Memphis” commercial was a clip of the demolition of the old King Cotton Hotel.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Did you enjoy ” First News ” by frank gari?

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I remember the Hello campaign and loved it. Down in SW Florida Joe will remember we mixed it with great shots of the beach, palm trees etc. Nice stuff that made you feel good about your crappy station for a good solid thirty seconds.

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