Anybody Seen Dan Lovett? Former WNWO anchor looks back at careerWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Lovett had never really intended to write a memoir of his broadcast career. The longtime news and sports reporter, who had worked pretty much everywhere over the course of his 40-plus years in journalism — including a stint as anchor at WNWO television in the late 1990s — began recording the details of his career with a very specific audience in mind: his family.
“I started on this about 20 to 25 years ago,” Lovett said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “Not so much with the intention of doing a book, but just tracking my career — mainly for my family, my children, my grandchildren. And I had really no intention of doing a book until about, oh, I guess about a year ago, maybe a year and a half ago. And my kids said, well, they thought it should become a book.”
The end result is entitled “Anybody Seen Dan Lovett?: Memoirs of a Media Nomad,” and it’s less of a love letter to an era of his life than a knowing and sometimes weary look back at a world that is full of the same pitfalls, politics and pressures we all face on the job. It just so happens that his career was aired to thousands of viewers on a nightly basis.
In a way, it’s appropriate that Lovett’s memoir was something that just kind of happened — much of his career in broadcasting developed the same way.
“When I started out, I was 18 years old and right out of high school. I [didn't] know what the word journalism meant. I never went to college, I never went to school — I went to work in radio at the age of 18, primarily because I thought I was fascinated by the music of the era and the idea of playing — of being a disc jockey, actually.
“And that led to being introduced to the UPI and the AP wire machines, to read the news. And I basically started doing that. And just one thing lead to another.”
Lovett hadn’t intended to get into sports, either — a niche which filled much of his on-air career.
“That was totally by — maybe the word’s ‘default.’ I went to Vietnam in 1965 as a correspondent for a chain of radio stations, for Gordon McLendon at the time, in Texas. Spent about six months there. I was 25 years old. And during that time, covering the conflict, war, I decided that I didn’t want to be around that kind of environment the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be reporting on people getting killed, and have to go back on the air again and start talking about people murdered in car wrecks.”
Not that he didn’t want the chance to show off his chops in the big chair, outside of sports. That’s what was so appealing to Lovett in 1996 when he was approached about relocating to Toledo to anchor the newly-minted 11 p.m. newscast on WNWO television.
“I must say, in all honesty, at the time that took place, I had been with ABC for quite a number of years, and there’s a lot of politics in that television business. I mean, a lot of sharks,” Lovett said.
“I ended up losing my contract and everything with the company I’d been with all these years, and there came this opportunity … I was doing sports then, and there came this opportunity to go back into news, and to be a news anchorman instead of doing sports. And Toledo happened to be the spot where I was going to go, and I was very excited about it.”
His time in Toledo is not the happiest section of the book, sadly. Lovett said that WNWO — which he said at the time was a “dump” and a “taco stand” — was still a good place to work, at first, as the station began the process of bolstering its news department. Then, “boom, the bottom falls out, and they sell from under our nose to Raycom communications. It just was a tumbling effect, and I said, ‘That’s enough, I’ve had enough. I’m not going through this nonsense anymore.’ And I just retired and came back to Houston.”
Lovett said that despite the ups and downs depicted in the memoir, he doesn’t mean for anyone — particularly aspiring journalists — to look at “Anybody Seen” as a cautionary tale.
“I didn’t write a book to discourage anyone to not do it, not go into broadcasting — that’s fine. Just be prepared. It’s not a pretty world. But then, [the] banking business is not a pretty world either, I suppose. It’s all a matter of your perspective.”