It was actually less than a year, but Bill O’Reilly’s tenure at WFSB spanned two years, 1979 and 1980. After a thorough search of our archives I found several examples of O’Reilly’s work at the old Broadcast House in downtown Hartford, ancient footage that had eluded us until recently. Of all the alumni who list WFSB on their resume, O’Reilly has arguably gone on to the greatest success. His “O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel is one of the highest rated political shows on cable television.
I have had several inquiries over the years about O’Reilly’s time as a member of the Channel 3 Eyewitness News team. A few astute viewers wanted to know why there were no clips of him in our 50th anniversary special, and the simple answer was we just couldn’t find them. Our computerized archives date back only to 1994. Anything before that must be find the old fashioned way. Also video tape from the 70s is on an old format and can only be played on a rickety old 3/4″ machine. We have one left and it only works after hours of careful tinkering by our engineers.
O’Reilly didn’t work at WFSB for that long, and in one of his books he cites a difficult relationship with a co-anchor as a factor in his departure to move on. One thing is pretty clear, at least from the reports I found in the archives, is that O’Reilly was a very good reporter, be it covering Ronald Reagan campaigning here in 1980, or teen idol Rex Smith signing autographs at the Hartford Civic Center.
Here are the clips we aired on “Face the State with Dennis House.”
Here is my story on O’Reilly from last week which was my most read blog entry ever.
Since the airing of “Face the State” I have had requests for more clips. I’ll see what I can find.