Just when you thought I was losing interest in the Houston TV scene...this happens. The rumors have been flying for weeks. And now we officially know that former KTRK abc13 news director Dave Strickland is joining KPRC 2 in the same capacity.
“I am extremely honored to join a news team that has such an exceptional reputation and a rich history,” Strickland said in a statement first issued to mikemcguff.com.
Ladies and gentlemen, let the Houston TV newsroom wars turn up to 11. Grab some popcorn, sit back and get ready for the sparks to fly.
I should add that Dave Strickland is the man who hired me full-time in Houston TV back in 2001. Yeah, blame him for all of this. Seriously though, I had an up close view of how Strickland or "Strick" as he is called by employees runs a newsroom.
As I said before, he was a tough but fair news director. The 13 culture at the time was, "we are going to be first and we are going to win."
Strickland is a native Houstonian. I believe he grew up in Sharpstown if memory serves. He attended Alief Hastings and graduated from Sam Houston State University (Dan Rather's alma mater).
His first TV experience was at channel 13 where he worked his way up from a sports intern to producer. He left for WAVY 10 Norfolk, Virginia where he became news director.
For instance, I have a t-shirt that was handed out in May 2002 that lists every major newscast win KTRK had in the ratings period. Back then, every time the station took all in the ratings war, employees got some kind of abc13 branded gear. We all had 13 emblazoned gym bags, computer bags, shirts, hats...etc. I should post some of this stuff on Instagram.
"I hired Dave out of college after he interned for me in sports at 13," former KTRK sports director Bob Allen told mikemcguff.com in 2014 when Strickland resigned from the station. "I'm proud of him for turning into a terrific news director. It was an honor to work for and with him at 13. It's a big loss for them. The best news director they ever had, and I worked for all but 2 of them. He'll find out as I did that change can be good. And like me, probably be much happier. MUCH happier."
So what I'm trying to say is, this guy knows how 13 ticks, what made it a heritage station all these years and what's going on in the rest of the Houston TV market too.
"Dave Strickland is one of the country's greatest news directors and a friend for life," former KTRK 13 Undercover reporter Wayne Dolcefino told mikemcguff.com in 2014. "He supported my investigative reporting until the very end. He was the brainchild behind the kind of in-depth aggressive news coverage Channel 13 used to be known for. I know my colleagues are devastated as they watch what is happening to a once great television institution."
KPRC is certainly well aware of this too.
“This is a major win to have Dave joining and leading our news team,” said KPRC VP/General Manager, Jerry Martin. “He is a Houstonian who knows the market, he knows the competition, and he’s a newsroom teacher who will take the foundation we’ve built the past few years at KPRC2 and raise it to a whole new level. This is great for the station and more importantly, it’s great for news viewers in the Houston market.”
Now the question is, who will follow Strickland to KPRC? Will KTRK reporters, anchors or behind the scenes staffers join him at channel 2? What about those former channel 13 employees no longer working in television? My guess is the answer to some of those questions is yes. Some names immediately popped into my head upon hearing this possible news a few weeks ago.
And how much (if any) will Strickland change KPRC's newscast? Some channel 13 viewers complain to me how the station's news has changed over the last few years. Whether they realize it or not, they started writing me after the time Strickland was not there. Will those disenfranchised 13 viewers prefer the new channel 2?
In the spirit of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio (which the Houston NBC affiliate is about to air) will KPRC get all gold with Strickland in the coach's chair?
Stay tuned. Things are about to get really exciting for Houston TV news viewers! KPRC says Strickland starts immediately.
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