STEHR: The people I will remember most

From left: Anne Marie Tiernon, John Stehr, Andrea Morehead, Scott Swan. (WTHR Photo)
John Stehr

Starting something new can be hard. We all know it — and we all have to do it from time to time. While my experience here at channel 13 has been mostly a positive one, even here, the beginning was hard.

You may recall that I stepped into a house built by giants in our industry and in Indianapolis — Anne Ryder, Bob Gregory, Don Hein. Dave Calabro had been the weekend sports guy for a couple of years and was getting started on the Monday through Friday shift at about the same time as me. We were the new kids on the block and, of the two of us, I was newer.

President John F. Kennedy was fond of saying that "a rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor." The point being that when one person in a group effort has success, everyone around them prospers too. And, so it was with me. The veterans treated me like a peer from the beginning. They allowed their success, their notoriety, and their equity in central Indiana to rub off on me. I would not have lasted in this job without their kindness and support.

In practical terms, Anne Ryder and I had a forced shotgun TV marriage. Our bosses (and some focus groups) decided we were a good match. If viewers agreed, great. If not, we would go down together. You see, while it's true that a rising tide lifts all boats, a receding tide can cause all of the boats to bottom out. Fortunately for me, the chemistry between us grew. We learned to trust each other both on the air and off. Anne decided to leave us in 2004 to devote more time to her family, and she remains to this day a dear and trusted friend.

John and Anne Ryder

When I got to channel 13 in 1995, Bob Gregory was winding down his long and storied career. He was the "Big Kahuna", the "top dog", the "franchise." Through years of hard work, accurate forecasting, and his basic goodness, Bob cultivated a large following here in central Indiana. If you were OK with Bob, well, that meant you were OK with others too. Not only did he accept me as a friend and colleague, he made it clear that he believed in me as the anchor of the newscast. His support brought me untold support from others. When I say I couldn't have done it without him, trust me, I couldn't have done it without him.

Anne Ryder, John Stehr and Bob Gregory on Bob's last day

Dave Calabro is the little brother I never had. Fortunately, he grew up with two older brothers so he knew exactly how to treat me. He can be a smart aleck and obnoxious, but he has helped me keep my feet on the ground over the years. He brings energy and compassion to everything he does. I have been made better by getting to work closely with him over all these years. If you know Dave, you have a friend, a strong Christian man who always feels called to serve. He's not a guy who would ever let you down.

John Stehr and Dave Calabro report from Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

Throughout my career in broadcasting, I have had a soft spot for meteorologists. The good ones are right 75 percent of the time, but a lot of people seem to want to focus on the 25 percent when they are not. That's why I will always be on their side. I have been fortunate to work with some fantastic people who just happen to be in those roles. When Bob Gregory took his well-deserved retirement, we brought in Chris Wright (or as I call him, my 'brother from a different mother'). We are bonded to one another, and even him leaving us a few years ago could never change that. We have a trust that goes beyond what you have seen on your TV screens. And what can I say about Angela Buchman? Our advertising line when she came to us was "warm front coming." And her warmth is undeniable. One of the best, and most accurate, slogans in the history of broadcasting. As nice as she is on the air, trust me, she is even nicer in person. I appreciate her, and I know that Ang and I will be friends for life. I call her the new "franchise." She and Sean Ash have a long history of working together, and the two make one of the most impressive teams I have ever seen in all my years of broadcasting. When one is out, the other steps in seamlessly to fill any gaps. You cannot go wrong placing your trust in them.

Andrea, John, AnneMarie and Angela

In any walk of life, one of the most important elements in any relationship is trust. For those of us in broadcasting, we have to have it with our viewers, and with each other. I have been fortunate to share that with my closest colleagues — my fellow anchors — Anne Marie Tiernon, Scott Swan and Andrea Morehead. As the medical reporter, Anne has become a confidante who has helped me navigate several medical issues through the years (including open heart surgery). But she also has been extremely loyal. She called to check on me, she comforted my wife, and she just plain showed up. You can't ask for more than that from a friend.

Scott is as genuine as he appears. You might think that he and I would be locked in constant competition (this is, after all, a competitive business), but I have never worked with a guy who had my back more than him. I have tried to be there for him as well over the years. During all this time, we have cheered each other's success and talked through our challenges. It has not been just about our jobs -- but personal matters too. Scott is a fine example of a strong Christian man. I hope he knows that I have his back too.

Out of all of my colleagues here at WTHR, I am probably most closely associated with Andrea. We have been joined at the hip for more than 15 years. Our fates are inextricably linked and that is something with which I have always been comfortable. In more than 40 years in broadcasting, I have never had a more generous partner. That closeness extends when we leave the building too as she and her husband Archie are godparents to our youngest daughter. Andrea and I are like that old married couple that finishes each others sentences and thinks the same thoughts. We may disagree, but we have never been disagreeable. If you hear me say that I have been blessed in my broadcasting career, having Andrea as a partner has been at the top of that very long list of blessings.

John Stehr, Andrea Morehead, Anne Marie Tiernon, Scott Swan

I realize as I am writing this that it might sound like I am talking about my own family. That's not an accident. I view my co-workers that way, and I would like to think that the regard we have for one another is one of the reasons that we have had success here over the years. I always tell people that you can pretend you like someone for a day, or maybe a week, but over decades? No way. The truth always bubbles up over time and with us here at WTHR, what you see is what you get. I'm going to miss being with them (and with those people who choose to watch us) every day.

— John Stehr

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