Don’t You Know that All Those TV Folks Look Alike & What the Bookies Used to do Before the Internet

All people on local TV look alike.  And everyone on local TV knows each other.  That pretty much appears to be the general feeling of some viewers I’ve encountered over the more than 25 years I was involved in the local media and the three years since I’ve left the TV news business.  The most recent case came Thursday night in Millington where I spoke to a civic club at a local eatery.  First, some background.  When I came to the Memphis market in 1989, Joe Birch had been on the air at WMC for about ten years.  To viewers it’s easy to see the confusion that would cause:  two white guys, about the same age, with pouffy hair, the same first name and they both were involved in local news.  When folks would call me “Joe Birch”, I would tell them they were “half right” since my first name is Joe.  I would also tell them as long as my wife never got us confused there was no harm.  I would then give them a business card.  I have had some people argue with me that I WAS  Joe Birch.  (Joe  has told me that he was asked,  on occasion,  about the Outdoor show he hosted).   Over the years I’ve been called  Steve Hayslip, Todd Demers and even Les Smith who was doing  sports at WREG at the time.   I could see perhaps the confusion with Steve and Todd but being confused with Les was more of a stretch than even I could imagine. (and I have a great imagination).  I’ve even had people call my wife Marybeth Conley and they look NOTHING  alike.   My former co-anchor in the morning (after Marybeth) was none-to-happy when she and I paid a visit to the Cook Convention Center for some event and someone referred to her as April Thompson.  In all fairness, she had only been in the market for a couple of years at the time.  Now, back to my visit to Millington.  I knew something was going to be said as I made my way through the restaurant and I made eye contact with a little old lady.  It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later after going through the salad bar line that the people seated at the table began to shout in my general direction “Andy Wise, Andy Wise, come be on my side. ”   Now Andy is a good looking guy and I guess I should be flattered but Andy and I look about as much alike as…well, we don’t look anything alike.  But we both used to be on local TV and he’s about to be back on at some point in time.  I didn’t say anything to the folks in the restaurant.  Perhaps I just should have told them “As long as my wife doesn’t get us confused……”

Before the big ballgame Saturday night between Memphis and Tennessee, my wife was trying to find what the “line” was on the game.  She couldn’t find it and I started to look the information up on the internet.  (Google is my home page).   All of this reminded me of when I was working weekend nights.  During the big college football and basketball seasons we would get calls about the same time each Saturday night and to a lesser degree, on Sundays during the professional football season as well.  Most of these calls were from the same people and they didn’t ask the score for just one game.  They usually had a laundry list.  I couldn’t figure it out until I was informed that these were people, mostly bookies, others just betting on the games, looking to get the latest information about the winning and losing teams.  The internet and multiple sources of sports news have eliminated the need to call TV stations on the weekends anymore.  Those weekend news people don’t know what they’re missing.

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3 Comments on “Don’t You Know that All Those TV Folks Look Alike & What the Bookies Used to do Before the Internet”

  1. Doug J. Says:

    Now, of course, I know you don’t condone gambling (are they still calling it “gaming” down Tunica way?)… And I know your lovely bride well enough to know that her take on most college sports is going to be as accurate as any Vegas tout, so I gotta know — what did she need the line on the game for?

    I got tagged as WMC’s Greeley Kyle a few times… also WHBQ’s Jonathan Clark, especially when we both worked weekends. I never dressed nattily enough to be mistaken for Alex Coleman… although I aspired to be.

  2. joelarkins Says:

    You mean to tell me there is gambling going on down Tunica way. I’m shocked, SHOCKED. As to what my lovely bride would need with information on “the line” you know and I know that knowledge is power and one needs all the power he or she can get when one talks to one’s bookie. Actually, I don’t know WHY she needs it but she does know her sports.

    And while I can say I was never confused with Alex Coleman, I was told I do a pretty good imitation of him walking through the studio. One person referred to it as the “A-C strut”. Can you say “too much time on our hands”? I was told that’s what I had.

  3. Lew Says:

    In a grocery store I was mistaken for another news anchor. A woman approached and called out the anchor’s name, then said, “you graduated from high school with my daughter.” I let her think that indeed I WAS that anchor, then answered, “Well I went to high school with your daughter, but you know I never graduated.” I thought it was funny. The anchor for whom I was mistaken didn’t.


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