WTVM 60th Anniversary: Former faces of WTVM

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In October of 1953, WTVM went on the air in Columbus.

That was 60 years ago, and as we mark this milestone all week, we look back at where we were and where we've come.

We visit some former faces of WTVM, faces you're sure to recognize as they reflect on their time at News Leader 9.

It's the first time back to the WTVM studios in a long time for former news anchor Dick McMichael and though things may look a little different compared to 1986 when he started here, for McMichael being on the news set, well it's like riding a bike.

"I feel at home, you look at home, you have this marvelous set and yeah this was home here for many, many years," says Dick.

Fourteen years to be exact: from 1986 to 2000 viewers in the valley welcomed McMichael and WTVM into their homes each evening. Though he's been off the air since then, he is still one of the most recognizable faces in town.

"People will recognize me and they say you're, you're? And I'll say I used to be Dick McMichael," laughs Dick. "They walk up to you 'cause they feel they know you because they've been watching you on TV and they've invited you into their home and consider you a friend."

Dick McMichael was that "friend" to folks in the valley for many, many years. He was 17 when he first started behind the mic in radio at WDAK, which later would become the call letters of a TV station now known as WTVM.

The award-winning journalist would make many stops in his television career before coming back home to WTVM. He's seen a lot in his 60 plus years in the business and marvels at how different things were back then.

"It was interesting to see the beginning of it," Dick says. "It was very exciting and everything was live and all the commercials were live, and if you made a mistake you made a mistake you didn't redo it and that had an excitement to it."

Old friends Eddie Bland and Al Fleming share a laugh as they recount the good old days of TV. Together these two have more than a century of television experience, most of it at WTVM.

Fleming was the news director and news anchor from 1966 to 1975. Though he went by the name Al Fleming On air, a promotional campaign started at WTVM would give him a new name that still sticks today.

"He'd say pardon me do you watch the 6 o'clock news, they'd say yeah I watch Al Fletcher, and he'd say Al Who?" says Al. "And they had a bunch of those and they really were effective."

It was the warm weather that brought "Al Who" to Columbus from Fargo, North Dakota all those years ago. He liked the area so much that he never left.

"I've enjoyed watching this town grow and it's just been fantastic," Al says. "But most of my news career has been here and I've thoroughly enjoyed working at Channel 9."

Like Dick and Al, Cheryl Myers also has wonderful memories of her time at WTVM.

"It was a real family-type atmosphere," Cheryl says.

It wasn't that long ago that Cheryl - known as Cheryl Morgan on air - manned the 5:30 anchor desk from 1998 to 2004.

"Once in a great while someone will recognize me and say hey you're the news lady and I say I used to be," Cheryl says.

Cheryl says being able to write and cover stories that really made a difference in the community is what she's proudest of.

All three of the former employees say the best part about working for WTVM were the people they met and the friends they made along the way.

"It was a lot of fun. I made some great friends and I wouldn't change it for anything."

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