Archive for May, 2011

WFSB Goes HD Today at Noon
May 30, 2011

WFSB engineer Dave Chmielewski attending to some last minute details for our switch to HD 

WFSB will official go HD Tuesday at noon.   Channel 3′s Kara Sundlun will anchor the station’s inaugural HD newscast, followed by Al and Denise at 5, and Denise and me at 6.   Our weather segments have actually been in HD for two years, so now the entire newscast will look better.    If you want to know more about HD read my previous post on the subject here:

You’ll notice the picture on your screen will be considerably clearer, and we’ll have some new graphics and slight set modifications.   Let me know what you think.

Channel 3′s Karen Lee and Ray Villeda ordering their special HD makeup

Blumenthal Settling into Senate
May 27, 2011

Richard Blumenthal has appeared on Face the State numerous times over the years, but is making his first appearance as senator this weekend.   Our interview began with a discussion about the transition from Attorney General, where he was in charge, to the U.S. Senate,  where he is one of a 100.  Blumenthal, used to getting instant responses from subpoenas, conceded he is learning that the senate moves very slowly.

We talked about Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, and I got his opinion on some of the local issues here in Connecticut that may need federal funding, with his help.   Also in our discussion, the next senate race for the seat held by Joe Lieberman.

You can watch the complete  interview this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.

Thank You to our Viewers
May 27, 2011

I want to thank all of you for helping us reach a milestone this May in Nielsen ratings.  Here is the official press release from our promotions department:


 Channel 3 Eyewitness News has once again captured the top spot during the recent May sweeps ratings period but the station’s dominance goes beyond the daily newscast. Channel 3’s Face the State is by far Connecticut’s most watched political program. Face the State beat competing shows, Meet the Press, The Chris Matthews Show, Fox News Sunday, the Real Story and ABC’s This Week. More viewers watched Face the State than the Sunday morning newscast on WTIC and WTNH.


“I thank the viewers for faithfully tuning into Face the State every Sunday, and for the elected officials, candidates, and newsmakers for being our guests,” said Face the State host, Dennis House. “I also want to give special gratitude to our Face the State and Eyewitness News team; they are the best in the business.  Together, I believe we are helping the people of Connecticut make more informed decisions about who will lead our state.”


Face the State airs on Channel 3 Sunday Mornings at 11AM.


WFSB TV is Connecticut’s most watched television station and is owned and operated by Meredith Broadcasting.    Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP; is one of the nation’s leading media and marketing companies with businesses centering on magazine and book publishing, television broadcasting, integrated marketing and interactive media. Meredith owns or operates 12 television stations that reach nearly 10 percent of television households across the country and one radio station: WGCL-TV (CBS), Atlanta; KPHO-TV (CBS), Phoenix; KPDX-TV (MyNetwork), Portland, OR; KPTV (FOX), Portland, OR; WFSB-TV (CBS), Hartford-New Haven, CT; WSMV-TV (NBC) Nashville, TN; KCTV (CBS), Kansas City, MO; KSMO (MyNetwork), Kansas City, MO; WHNS-TV (FOX), Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC-Asheville, NC; WNEM-TV (CBS), Flint-Saginaw, MI; KVVU-TV (FOX), Las Vegas, NV; TN; WSHM, (CBS), Springfield, MA; and radio station WNEM-AM in Saginaw-Bay City, MI. 

 Contact: Greg Thomas (860) 244-1566

May 27, 1996
May 26, 2011

Funny the random things you find when you clean up the desk.     This picture was taken 15 years ago today as we sat in the studio of the old Broadcast House.

Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura may Leave Democratic Party
May 26, 2011


Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura is considering leaving the Democratic party and becoming a Republican.       The 5 term Democrat told me today he is disappointed his party is nominating someone else, and he is thinking of accepting overtures from the GOP to be their nominee.  

Jarjura told me he will make his final decision over the weekend, and announce his decision Tuesday.

Grocery Shopping with Oprah in Glastonbury
May 26, 2011


I spoke to my former co-anchor Gayle King yesterday about the final taping of the Oprah Show.   As you might imagine, she told me it was an amazing experience and that she never thought Oprah would want to do the show for 25 years.   I also asked her for an Oprah story we hadn’t heard before,  perhaps from one from of the talk show queen’s  unpublicized visits to suburban Hartford to seet Gayle.

Gayle instantly recalled a New Year’s Eve in the early 90s, right after she became divorced.  Gayle told me she was on the phone with Oprah earlier in the day saying she had no plans to do anything to ring in 1994.      A few hours later Gayle was suprised when Oprah and Stedman Graham showed up at the door of her home in Glastonbury.

As the story goes, Gayle said they all went to the Stop and Shop in town to buy some groceries.

You have to picture the scene:  a cold New Year’s Eve and one of the most famous women in the world shows up in the produce aisle.   Wouldn’t you love to see the looks on the cashier’s face?  Gayle said Oprah hadn’t been in a grocery store in ages. 

By the way, Stedman cooked a pasta dinner and Gayle cherishes the memory of what she called a “great New Year’s.”

Oprah’s Visit to Hartford and Other “O” Moments
May 24, 2011


“Hi, is Gayle there?” the caller to the Eyewitness newsroom asked me.     “I’m sorry, ma’am, could you please take me off speaker, it is difficult to hear you,” I responded.   Truth is, I could understand the caller, but it wasn’t very clear, and I found speakerphone calls annoying, especially when a viewer would call in to complain about something on “The Guiding Light,” which I figured this call was.   “I’m sorry,” the caller politely said.  “Thank you. Who’s calling,” I asked, feeling somewhat powerful at that moment.  That power trip was short-lived, and as soon as the caller identified herself, I felt awful about the way I’d spoken to one of the most admired women in the world.  “Oprah Winfrey,” the caller declared.   

That was my first dealing with Oprah Winfrey, and I still feel terrible about it.    She would call Broadcast House countless times after that, looking for her best friend.   This was before voicemail and cell phones, and the direct newsroom line was the link between Gayle and the queen of talk. 

I went on to  meet Oprah a handful of times.   The first was a brief introduction when she came to Hartford in the fall of 1992.    She arrived at Broadcast House in a limo, then appeared on Eyewitness News at 5 with Gayle, and later did the weather with Hilton Kaderli.   During her interview, Oprah dropped a bombshell that made headlines around the world:  she was engaged to longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham.    The tabloids and media organizations flooded WFSB with calls looking to get that coveted clip.

While here in the capital city, Oprah also visited a school in Hartford’s North End, then delivered an inspirational speech at the Bushnell.  

Several years later, I met Oprah again when I was invited on her show for a taping of an episode on most eligible newscasters (Chris Wragge, former of the CBS Early Show) was also on that edition.)


There was another time when I went to sit in the audience and watch the show, and another time when I interviewed Oprah about her movie “Beloved.”   As I sat across from the ultimate interviewer, I remarked how much Gayle talked just like her, right down to the mannerisms.   Later Gayle corrected me:  “Oprah talks like me.”

Most recently, I saw Oprah when Kara and I traveled to Chicago last year to see the show.   My wife is a huge Oprah fan (she DVRs it every day) and as soon as she learned the show was ending, she was buying airline tickets to the Windy City.    After the taping was over, the audience remained seated while Oprah took care of taping a few quick things, and during some down time, she said “Where’s Dennis House?”  After a quick chat, she asked for a Gayle story, and I of course obliged. 

My brief interactions with Oprah all left me the same impression:  what you see on television, is the real deal.   She truly is very interested in people, and the stories they have to tell.    

When I became Gayle’s co-anchor in 1995, I began to learn a little more about Oprah.  On Mondays, Gayle and I would swap stories about our weekends.   I would mention how I went to happy hour  or washed my car, and almost always, Gayle’s story was way more interesting!    Usually she would talk about her children, but if the weekend involved an adventure with Oprah, then she usually had me beat in the excitement department.   

One thing I learned from  Oprah, indirectly through the Gayle, was the importance of listening very carefully while conducting an interview.   In order to be a good interviewer, you have to listen to every word the subject says, and Oprah is a master of the art.   

For a quarter century the Oprah Winfrey Show has been our lead-in to Eyewitness News here on Channel 3.   She’s been a big part of our station’s history and success and she will be missed.

Hartford Photo Gallery
May 23, 2011

I was cleaning out the picture file and came across these.   Some of these views taken from our old downtown pad.  

Could Homesteading Work in Hartford?
May 20, 2011

This Sunday on Face the State we are joined by the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial.  Morial was in Hartford this week to talk with the Metro Hartford Alliance about ways to improve cities.   Hartford has lost 50,000 people in the past 50 years, a stunning figure, but has the potential to attract thousands of new residents.     One idea Morial would like to see implemented here is homesteading.   

When we think blight in Hartford, buildings like the hideous Capitol West instantly come to mind. 

But the truth is,  in every neighborhood in the city there are abandoned homes, from the West End to downtown.   They might be foreclosed properties, or buildings owned by people who just don’t care.   Many of these are architectural gems, with tons of hidden potential.  

During our taping, Morial explains how homesteading would work.  Essentially, people buy a home at a low cost, but must agree to fix them up and live in them.    It’s an idea that has worked elsewhere, and should be given an opportunity to succeed in Hartford. 

By the way, that beautiful shot of the glimmering skyline at the top of this story?   There are two basically abandoned buildings in the foreground, just steps from Bushnell Park and City Hall.   For years they feature boarded up windows, graffiti, and a whole lot of potential.   Perfect candidates for homesteading.

You can watch the entire interview with Marc Morial, this Sunday morning at 11, only on Channel 3.

Flashback: John Rowland on Face the State
May 20, 2011

John Rowland was a fixture on Channel 3 Sunday morning political shows for more than a decade.  He came on Face the State many times, dating back to the 1980s and in the 90s when the program was renamed annually (CT-94, CT-95, etc.)  He came on as a congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and ultimately, governor.  

I remember seeing the black Lincoln parked outside Broadcast House in downtown Hartford on occasional Friday mornings, meaning the then governor was in for a taping with Duby McDowell, Jeff Cole and later Al Terzi.    He always took time to meet with staffers and be interviewed on his way out.

In this week’s “Face the State” flashback we take you back to May of 2004, when then Governor Rowland made his final appearance on the program, moderated  by Al.     Rowland was in the throes of an investigation, and fending off calls for impeachment.   To his credit, he came into our studios when it would have been much easier to avoid the cameras   In the clip you’ll see Sunday,  Al asks Rowland about the media, and the answer was lengthy, and focused on the state’s largest newspaper.  The governor announced his resignation 6 weeks later.

Ironically, Rowland was a key figure in the survival of Face the State.   In the late 1990s, our general manager (who is no longer with the company)  told Duby he  wanted to cancel the program, presumably to replace it with a lucrative infomercial.  

Politicians got wind of the ill-conceived plan, and fought to save the show from the trash bin.  Democratic activist Jonathan Pelto and GOP chairman Dick Foley organized a campaign, and then Rowland stepped in.    According to Duby, it all came to a head when the assistant to our general manager interrupted him in the middle of a meeting to tell him “the governor” was on the phone.  Legend has it Rowland implored that the GM not cancel the broadcast, citing its importance to the state.  Our thanks to Rowland for that.

The rest is history.    Just last week, more people in Connecticut watched Face the State than Meet the Press, and we thank our viewers for that. 

Rowland has been invited to come on Face the State since his last appearance in 2004, but he has declined our past invitations. 

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM only on Channel 3.


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