Want to make radio sports-talker Dave Blackwell feel old? Remind him that KUTV's new news director, Daniel J. Webster, was a journalism intern at KMTV in Omaha, Neb., at the same time good ol' Blacks was a veteran sports director there.
"That seems like such a long time ago," Webster said with a chuckle during a telephone interview Monday morning. "But hey - Blackwell was always really nice to me, so I don't want to make him feel bad."OK, so I will. It was a long time ago, Blacks. A very long time. A lot of current college students hadn't even been born yet when the new KUTV News director was trying to launch his career while graduating from the University of San Diego (1970) and earning a master's in journalism from Columbia University (1973).
And Blacks wasn't the only journalist of note to influence young Webster. While at Columbia he worked with Fred Friendly, with whom he shares strong feelings about the future of television news.
"There was a time when the networks controlled the TV news business," said Webster. "But today, local news is in charge. It has expanded - and I don't just mean going out to cover things in Moab and Price. Today's technology makes it possible for local reporters to cover anything that affects viewers - wherever and whenever it happens."
And that's not sour grapes from someone who never made it to the network level. In addition to his current role as assignments manager for "USA Today on TV," Webster has been a producer, editor and deputy bureau chief for NBC News. He has also been a vice president for the Conus satellite network (which KUTV is affiliated with) and has even worked as a local TV news director before, at KOB-TV in Albuquerque.
Over the years (that's right, Blacks - many, many years), Webster has developed a journalistic philosophy that he will bring to Salt Lake City with him. "I've always felt that the most important thing in any news operation is good fundamental journalism," he said. "The goal is to produce good up-front news stories and good people stories that serve our viewers. Everything we do will be focused on doing that, and doing it well."
And Webster is confident his KUTV staff has what it takes to fulfill that mandate. "I've worked with some of these people before, and so I know what a good operation KUTV has," he said. "KUTV is well-known and respected as one of the best NBC affiliates in the country. I'm pleased to be a part of that tradition."
Of course, it'll be about three weeks before he's able to make the move West. But then, what's three weeks to someone who knew Dave Blackwell - way, way, way back then?