So Long to a Person Who Made a Difference in Local TV News, & How Is It Again You Judge If a Person Was Our First Black President

So long and good luck to Doug Viar. I received a note from Tommy Stafford who worked with several Memphis television stations that Doug Viar finally said “enough”. Some of you newbies to the market don’t know Doug but DV was the go-to guy when it came to covering the outlying areas for WREG back in the late 70s and the 80s. I’ve mentioned previously on this blog about my first encounter with Doug in NE Arkansas on a big story where a man who had gunned down two U-S Marshals in the Dakotas was involved in a shootout near Walnut Ridge (I think) in the early 80s. . I was working for the CBS affiliate in Cape Girardeau, MO at the time. Long story short, my videographer and I were short on cash (no credit cards either) and were going to have to spend the night in our newscruiser while waiting to speak to the officials at a news conference the next morning. Doug took pity on the two of us “rubes” and let us crash in his motel room. I’ve never forgotten that and quite frankly Doug doesn’t remember it. But then that’s the way Doug always was. It was no big deal to him. He would help you on a story if things were going south for you. He also had a great bullsh*t detector and you could see in his eyes when he knew someone was jerking his chain. Doug got out of the news reporting business and Tommy Stafford took over the news gig for him. (More on that farther down in this post). But Doug was still involved in news, having purchased a satellite truck. I ran into Doug last year when Mary Winkler (the preacher’s wife) shot and killed her husband in Selmer. Doug was on the scene uplinking for NBC. It was the same old Doug. Here’s what Tommy Stafford shared with me about DV:

Long Time Television News Legend Finally Says So Long …or the headline would go something like that!
Yep, Doug Viar, a face seldom seen on air (think he did a total of 8 stand ups in 10-15!) but his voice was familiar to everyone from roughly 1979 to the late 80’s on WREG. The days of John Powell, Ray Polhman, and more. Doug is the reason I got into television news. He knew it best, knew how to do it, and hated all of the show business side of it. Just the facts!
A few days ago Doug’s last connection to the television news business were severed. After leaving the news business around 1989-1990 (enter Tommy Stafford WREG) Doug began commercial production and eventually bought his own satellite uplink truck. After the first 2-3 years he bought a brand new upscale truck that he sold recently to former WPTY engineer Jesse Vangunda who has now taken over the reins. Ironically, Doug ended up being my sat truck whenever I would do sat shots for Weather Channel in my final years of the business.�
I asked Doug a few days ago if he thought he’d miss the business. His reply, “Hell no!” I get it.�
Any of us that worked with Doug know what a great real news guy he was. I remember one of the first stories I went with Doug on back in South Fulton, TN. Some crazy guy locked himself in his house and started shooting at deputies and state troopers. We were hunkered down in a ditch with bullets whizzing by. All the while local squirrel hunters dropped by with their rifles to take a shot! I knew I was about to enter a very crazy business!
Long before we had sat trucks in the Memphis market, Doug and I flew tapes by private plane back and forth to the stations in the night to make slot. I learned to fly that way, thank you WREG for the 110 plus hours!
Most folks in the Memphis market won’t remember Doug, but a few of us will. He’s was the best on breaking news!
Happy Retirement Doug!
Thankfully he taught me the most important lesson in news of all. WHEN TO GET OUT!
Thank you Tommy and best of luck Doug Viar.
And finally, I now know how to determine if a person is our first black president. I was listening to some snippet from yet another debate and someone mentioned that Bill Clinton was our first “black” president. I’ve heard that for years. When that was brought up to Barack Obama, BO said he would have to see how the former president danced, among other things, before he could determine if Bill Clinton was indeed a “brother”.
I will defer to Mr. Obama and this blog’s AAC (African American correspondent)/P-O-C (pundit of color) Doug “That’s Mr. Buckeye to You ” Johnson for clarification. I can attest that you don’t even have to see me dance, I ain’t it. (Billy Crystal and I both dance with white man’s underbite) I can’t jump either.
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7 Comments on “So Long to a Person Who Made a Difference in Local TV News, & How Is It Again You Judge If a Person Was Our First Black President”

  1. Doug J. Says:

    Dancing or Doug Viar — I don’t know which to tackle first.

    I guess I’ll go namesake first. I didn’t have a lot of run ins with Mr. V., but when I did, he always came across as a class act… so enjoy your retirement.

    Now onto Dancing with the (Political) Stars. I’ve seen Barack trip the light fantastic with Ellen Degeneris — and although dancing next to her would make anyone look like Astaire — Mr. O has moves. Not at all “halfrican” as some of the haters put it… I think he could manage a Soul Train line with no problem.

    Now Bill (and I feel comfortable calling him that, since I met him way back when he was just a governor)… I’ve seen him dance too. Danced around Whitewater, danced around health care reform… danced around impeachment… He’s gotten a lot of credit for hanging with the brothers over the years… but I’m not sure that, or playing the sax on Arsenio’s show gives him full Soul Brother status. Although, he seems to like it when baby’s got “back…” and some would see that as giving him his “bona fides…”

    I still get the feeling that Bill’s moves would be limited — if not by race, by his heart condition not allowing him to leap all over the floor.

  2. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    I had many opportunities to work with Doug Viar and always appreciated his dedication, journalistic instinct, and piloting skills. Great sense of humor, too. I’ll always remember he taught me that the right way to pronounce “Forked”, as in Forked Deer River was “For- KADEER”.

    He’s a great guy and the local news biz will miss him. Good luck and Best Wishes Doug!


  3. Jack Church Says:

    While I am very happy for Doug it also makes me a little sad. I remember back when we worked at WBBJ how Doug was such a blessing to a staff that barely could keep one single tube Hitachi in service and if not for Doug there were several Friday nights I would have had friday football highlights with absolutely no video. With Doug’s retirement it seems like another piece of our past is fading to black. Just another reminder that I’m far removed from the young 22 year old man that once thought working in television was the greatest thing on earth. God bless and nothing but the best to Doug in the years ahead.

  4. the tall tv guy Says:

    I remember seeing Doug Viar’s name a few times when credits rolled for the news (that isn’t done anymore) or for a special production. Kind of reminds me when Ch. 3 moved into its’ own building back in the ’70’s. we were given a tour when in Memphis on a weekend. Looking around the studio, I was surprised to find out those cube desks were just painted plywood! Sets and furniture have been upgraded quite a bit since then.

    Good luck, Doug in your retirement.

  5. Lew_Jetton Says:

    I remember Doug from my days at WBBJ and then again at WPSD. What would we have done without him at either place! God Bless him! He’s surely deserved it!!

  6. Jack Parnell Says:

    I’ve known Doug since he was a disk jockey in Dyersburg. He and Margaret are the
    cream of the crop; Shirley and I consider them our closest friends. I’ve been on a
    couple of shoots with him when he’s been here in Memhis. He’s a pro all the way.
    Shirley and I will miss getting phone cals at 4 or 5 in the afternoon saying: “Margaret
    and I are on our way thru from Oklahoma, or Arkansas, or wherever, and thought you
    and Shirley might like to meet us somewhere for dinner”. We always thoroughly
    enjoyed their company.

  7. Joe Says:

    Doug Viar is my Grandfather..I just googled him and found this

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