You may remember that Larry King once did an interview segment for the Miami News, an evening newspaper that existed in Miami from 1896 until 1988. Upon the newspaper’s closure, Cox (their owner) moved their collections and assets to nearby sister publication, The Palm Beach Post. Because of that, we have uncovered this great interview with Channel 7 newsman Wayne Fariss that Larry King performed in January of 1978. This was just two years before Ansin did not renew Wayne Fariss’ contract in favor of using Steve Rondinero and Sally Fitz, despite Fariss having been at WCKT since the 1956 sign on. This move did not necessarily help WCKT. The soon to be WSVN would see success in 1988 by the very tactic that Fariss condemns in this interview.
Mr. Fariss is long gone from Miami and a lot has changed (he moved to WZVN in Ft Myers and left TV for Real Estate in 1986). I think many of you will find his thoughts on the business in Miami and abroad, as well as the idea of tabloid in 1978 interesting. Little did he know these very things and a lot of the things he said he was proud of would force him out of his job two years later!
Take a look at the interview after the jump.
From the Miami News:
Wayne Fariss is as much a part of the Miami scene as good weather. He anchors the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on Channel 7. Fariss started out at a 100-watt radio station in Georgia. He has been with Channel 7 for more than 20 years, and had a stint at Chicago Television.
King: Did you always want to be a broadcaster?
Fariss: I can remember wanting to be nothing else but a broadcaster. I was born in Tampa, but our family moved to atlanta early in my life. I did a public service program on an Atlanta Radio station when I was still in high school. It was called “The Road to Adventure,” and it had to do with the Boy Scouts.
King: A lot of people fall into being newscasters. Did that happen to you?
Fariss: No, I always had my heart set on news. I always wanted to be the guy who tells people what happened. I was never interested in print-journalism. It was always new,s and always broadcasting. Naturally when I started in radio I did everything from music to sports to cleaning up the studio. After the Army, where I did radio work at the base station at Ft Jackson, SC, I set my sights to television. There were jobs opening all the time new stations goin on the air. It was a wonderful time to be int he business and if you had some radio experience the opportunities were endless. I went with a station in Wilmington, Del., where I go to do everything including news. I learned every fundamental about television. I ran a camera, ran slides, everything. So when Channel 13 in Tampa was ready to go on air I was a natural for that station because I knew craft. From there I came to Miami as an anchorman and have been doing that ever since.
King: A lot of anchorman say they miss outside reporting-really digging into a story, do you?
Fariss: No, I can’t say that I do. I like being an anchor. I think I work best as it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have done everything, but I’ve found my niche so to speak and there’s nothing else in the business I’d want to do.
King: What makes a good anchorman?
Fariss: Believability, Credibility. People can read through a phoney in short order. You have to be able to relate to your audience. They have to trust in you. If you have that quality, and it’s a quality you can’t teach anyone, you either have it or you don’t, you then begin to build an audience and once you do that they remain very loyal to you because they feel they know you. You can’t mimic someone else you admire. You have to do it your way. You must be natural.
King: Do you play the camera like it’s an individual person?
Fariss: Well, I realize I am talking to a large audience naturally, but I suppose since you ask it that way that I do play it to an individual. For instance, I like my camera very close to me. It’s psychological, I suppose, but it’s more intimate and I’m much more comfortable with it. I guess I am just right there in that one living room.
King: Do you write your own news?
Fariss: Not anymore, I can’t. I do an hour at 6 and a half hour at 11. I don’t have the time. Everything is so specialized in television now. We hire expert writers, and that is very important because the writer has to know me, how I phrase, what I like to do with a story and he or she has to write it just that way. It’s a difficult thing to do. They are as important as the presenter and they get very little credit. It’s a highly specialized kind of writing. You have to get the essentials of the story across because many people only half listen.
King: Ralph Renick told us in this space awhile ago that he thought you should not have a co-anchorman. Are you happy with that?
Fariss: It really depends on whom you are working with. The pair must be compatible or it’s a disaster. I happen to have a very good relationship with Vic Mason, so that we complement each other. The timing is the most frustrating thing about two people anchoring a newscast. When you work alone you have your own pace-now you have two paces and no two are exactly alike. It doesen’t bother my ego to work with someone else. It’s all over the country. One person just cannot do an hour newscast alone. It’s physically and mentally draining.
King: How would you asses television newscasts offered in Miami?
Fariss: I think 4, 7, and 10 do a terrific job. Absolutely terrific! I’d say we do the best in the country, and I include those larger markets. I’ve been all over, and I’d say on a competitive basis you won’t see better anywhere. Just watch others, and you will be pleasantly surprised how well we do. I respect my competitors very much. They are pros, they keep you on your toes very much. I think that’s very healthy, both for us in the business, and the audience.
King: Many in your business fear that Roone Arledge at ABC will lead us to tabloid television journalism. Do you fear it happening at channel 7?
Fariss: Not so much here in Miami, I don’t think it would go over well here at all. I do fear it though in largely blue collar markets. In fact, it’s already going on in some of those cities and doing very well, but I don’t think it’s even remotely possible here.
Hope you’re enjoying retirement in Lake Placid Mr Fariss!