This Sunday on “Face the State with Dennis House,” we broadcast some ancient videotape of a famous Channel 3 alumnus, Bill O’Reilly, now of the Fox Channel Channel. The link to the video is at the end of this post.
O’Reilly worked in Hartford 31 years ago, anchoring our evening news and reporting on some of the top stories of the day. The fall of 1979 saw the infamous Windsor Locks tornado, the visit of Pope John Paul II to New York, and the Iran Hostage Crisis. O’Reilly covered all those stories along with trailing the candidates flocking to Connecticut for the 1980 presidential primary, including George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Ted Kennedy. His plum assignment that fall: being sent to Dallas for an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. I also found videotape of O’Reilly in a sea of screaming girls waiting to meet the big teen idol of ’79, Rex Smith!
A Bill O’Reilly story logged in our archives. “Linda/Chapin” was a report on O’Reilly’s interview with Harry Chapin, in concert at the Hartford Civic Center. O’Reilly painted a contrast between Linda Ronstadt and her refusal to do media interviews, and Chapin, who sat down with O’Reilly for a one-on-one. Chapin died in a car crash the following year.
As I went digging through hundreds of archaic videotapes in our archives, I came across a decent amount of O’Reilly’s reports. Some are so old they no longer play in our lone antique 3/4″ machine, but I dusted off several of them and thanks to our engineers they were brought back alive for the digital age.
O’Reilly wrote about his time in Hartford in one of his books, and it sounds as if his tenure wasn’t all that enjoyable. Even so, from what I found in the archives his displeasure certainly didn’t show in his work. O’Reilly, then 30, was a good solid reporter and an interesting story teller.
Take a look and let me know what you think: