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.