I got an interesting email the other day from a fellow some of you will remember as Obsolete Technology Guy, otherwise known as Phillip Walters, ’76.
I’ll let him tell it:
This article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/business/garrick-utley-former-nbc-anchor-and-foreign-correspondent-dies-at-74.html?_r=1 caused me to write to you. Mr. Utley was not a Rice Alum, but there is a tie in to Rice.
On January 15, 1976 Garrick Utley was visiting Rice along with NBC correspondents Carole Simpson, Irving R. Levine, Richard Valeriani, Steve Delaney and Tom Pettit. They participated in a “World Events Seminar” moderated by Ray Miller, KPRC-TV’s News Director. There were two sessions, one for the students, and one for the faculty and donors, separated by a press conference. KPRC graciously allowed KTRU to broadcast the sound portion on the evening event, and I was in KPRC’s truck connecting a feed to the KTRU studio. I had just finished when Ray stuck his head in the truck and asked “Is there a quiet place where I can take these folks for a break and a beer?”. So, I checked downstairs and found Tina Garfield in the Willy’s Pub office and she was quite happy to open the pub and provide a pitcher or two of beer and some munchies. So, Tina and I found ourselves sitting with these folks on the couches in the raised area of the old Pub as they told stories, and jokes, mostly not fit for broadcast. Somewhere in all of that, Mr. Utley mentioned he had started in radio and asked where the studios were. When I told him they were on the other side of the wall, he immediately got up and asked for a tour. Mr. Utley is an imposing man at 6’6” and was a head taller than me. When the tour got to the news room, KTRU news director Lee Hochberg was training some new news department volunteers, and his back was to the door. His trainees were completely distracted by our entrance, and Lee turned around with a somewhat irritated look, and saw me first and then saw Mr. Utley’s head above mine, and sort of just stopped talking for a moment. Mr. Utley with his usual grace said something like, “Please continue, I’m interested in what you have to say”. It was quite the day.
There’s a nice Thresher article about the event with the correspondents. Because the 1976 version fits neatly on my scanner, here–as a special treat for all–are two full pages:
What a charming story! Thanks!
Note the article about the rebuilding of the Hanszen commons … the original commons had burned the previous summer.
Wow. Both those pages are a nostalgic trip in time. I recall attending that World Events Seminar and what a big honor it was to have so many big name reporters attend a college function. As a member of Hanszen, we had to dine in exile for a whole year at the RMC while they planned and rebuilt the Hanszen Commons which burned down during the summer. Rumor has it that all the mattresses were stacked high in the Commons during the renovation of the north wing and that a construction worker had snuck in to sneak a smoke which caused the fire. The pessimism of the reporters about Middle East politics certainly proved justified by the history since that date..
I was very impressed with all of their detailed grasp of their subjects, and their obvious joy in sharing what they knew, and challenging each other. It is rare to find that kind of investigative depth on television news as it exists now.
Always surprising to be reminded that my dad was business manager at the time. I don’t think he particularly enjoyed the job. I’ll have to ask him what he remembers about this.
I’m also fairly sure he didn’t care for the job, although from what I can tell he was good at it. I don’t blame him one bit.
Melissa, thanks for posting this!
You’re very welcome. It’s a good story and I frankly could use the help.
I have a number of stories that I ought to do some research on statutes of limitation before I tell them.
You can find a rather flatter scan here: http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth245273/m1/1/
Hmm, the jump page includes a truly awful volleyball photo by a Thresher photographer in his first year on the staff. I got better.
If you go to the link above, though, you can visit page three to enjoy my favorite Thresher blurb quote from my entire time at Rice.
I’ll admit that caught my eye.
I admit that when I look at old Thresher scans, the first thing I do is hop to the back page to the misclassifieds, just like I did with the original. I think a few unfortunate utterances of mine were enshrined there. I also remember a professor or two saying something, stopping and then threatening the class with dire consequences if it appeared on the back of the Thresher.