Archive for the ‘all about Dennis’ Category

The Fatherhood Fifteen
October 16, 2013


A viewer wrote to me the other day saying my suits looked tight lately. Another I met this weekend said “you look bigger in person.” A third was more direct via Facebook: “have you gained weight?”

Truth is, yes I have. For every viewer who wrote, there were likely many more who were thinking the same thing. I even got two e-mails from personal trainers offering their services. I guess I must look terrible on the news. Thanks, I think.

We’ve all heard of the “freshman fifteen,” that weight many people pack on when they go to college and eat dining hall food and learn about beer. There is also another fat phenomenon I’ll call the “fatherhood fifteen.”

I can’t help but finish my kids’s meals. If we go out to dinner and they leave a half plate of Mac and cheese, I eat it. An extra chicken finger? Yep, mine. Why throw it away? My mother used to say “there are people starving out there, clean your plate.” Now, that commitment to not wasting food has come back to haunt me.


I’m changing my eating habits and getting back to the gym and weights, running, and a little racquetball. After finishing off both my kids’ French fries Sunday, I knew it was time for a turnaround. My wife Kara ordering some brownie thing “to share” certainly didn’t help. Monday, I had oatmeal for breakfast and sushi for lunch the next day! The above photo is from this week. The one below 25 pounds and 25 years ago.

I’ll keep you posted when I’ve lost that fifteen, or maybe ten. Five?


The Pontiac Dentura
October 14, 2013


The cheapest car I ever bought was this very used 1973 Pontiac Ventura, that was as red as a tomato with a white top. It wasn’t a vinyl top, but rather a glossy painted white roof. This was a stripper of a model that featured vinyl seats and a vinyl floor. No carpeting, but that option delete made by the original owner during the Watergate years came in mighty handy for me. Read on.

I bought the Ventura when I was college in the 1980s for $350 and it had well over 100,000 miles. There was some rot and rust, but nothing I couldn’t fix with some Bondo. I patched a few holes, painted over the filler, added pinstripes, and a cassette player and I had the perfect campus cruiser.


The Pontiac Ventura was fairly rare in its day. Even though it was a rebadged Chevrolet Nova, which also spawned the Buick Apollo and Oldsmbobile Omega, you didn’t see too many of them on the road. Mine was unique and that’s what I loved it. It went on to have quite a history.

It began when I had a carload of college friends and we were heading back to campus after a night out. A friend in the backseat apparently had too much to drink and threw up onto a girl’s lap and because there were four people in that second row, she had little space to avoid what had to be one of the grossest things to ever happen to her. He was seated directly behind me and then proceeded to hurl again, only this time he tried to cover his mouth to protect the vomit-drenched babe to his right. Instead he created a fountain of spew, and his regurgitated Pabst Blue Ribbon-soaked chunks ended up on the back of my head, neck and shoulders. I’ll never forget it, even the Barracuda jacket I was wearing. The stench was overpowering, and we rolled down the windows in freezing weather. The next day my buddy’s task was to clean out the Ventura, a task made much easier due to the lack of carpeting. That spartan interior option made cleanup a breeze.

Not long after, my brother took the car out when I was home for Christmas break and returned it with a giant dent in the front fender and a missing hubcap. The story was he was doing wheelies in a parking lot after a snow storm and learned the hard way there are often large stationary objects buried in snow banks. When I returned to college, the Ventura was renamed the Dentura, for its giant blemish and a variation of my name. A few more dents were added over the next two years, and after being a great mode of transportation for my sophomore and junior years, the Dentura went to the junkyard.


Read about my Buick Roadmaster:

Also check this out: Remember Mercury?

“Face the State” meets the CBS Evening News
May 18, 2010


Tune into tonight to the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and you catch me talking about the Richard Blumenthal military service controversy.

I was interviewed for Jeff Greenfield’s report.    It airs tonight at 6:30PM

Now back to my day job.

Peckinpaugh: “I’m a Reagan moderate”
May 13, 2010

Janet Peckinpaugh, former television news anchor turned politician has sat down for her first  extended interview since throwing her hat in the ring for the 2nd Congressional district.    During a taping of “Face the State,” the Essex Republican talked about why she is running and when she  made the decision to plunge into politics.

Peckinpaugh wouldn’t identify them, but told me “higher-ups” in the state Republican party approached her to run, saying the other candidates Matt Daly and Daria Novak weren’t gaining traction in their quest to unseat Democrat Joe Courtney.    

Peckinpaugh told me right now she has enough committed delegates to qualify for a primary.

We also talked about why she believes it is time for Courtney to go,  why a news anchor is qualified to be a U.S. Representative, and the commercials she did for Lend America, a failed mortgage company.   The latter is something Democrats may use against her. 

I asked Peckinpaugh if she had a political role model.  She does:  Ronald Reagan, and she explained why.  “Are you a Reagan conservative?”  I asked.  “A Reagan moderate,”  Peckinpaugh replied.

As I blogged last week, this was an unusual interview for me. Janet and I worked as co-anchors in 1994, and this is the first time I’ve had a former colleague run for office, and then had to interview this person.


I consulted my news director Dana Neves and Quinnipiac University journalism professor Rich Hanley about to handle it.   Dana said just be fair, and Professor Hanley advised to me to mention at the  beginning of the broadcast that Janet and I worked together and then move on.

I believe we treated Janet like we have other congressional candidates who have been on.    Both interviews with Novak and Daly are on our website. 

You can watch the interview with Janet Peckinpaugh right here:

Why Framing the Camera is Important
May 13, 2010

Doing a live report from our assignment desk today reminded me of this blooper from 1997.

Bringing Back Your Hartford Whalers
April 8, 2010

This week marks a tough anniversary in Connecticut history.     Thirteen years ago the Hartford Whalers left the capital city, breaking the hearts of fans all across the land of steady habits and beyond.    The loss of the Whalers is still being felt to this day:  no longer does your capital city get a daily mention on ESPN during the hockey season, and stores surrounding the Coliseum are all empty.   Hockey fans from all over the country are no longer coming to hotels in the city to cheer on their home teams from Montreal and Chicago playing road games against our Whalers. 

Since 1997, we’ve heard of various efforts to restore major league sports in our state, and now there is a new plan from a familiar face who knows a little something about bringing a team here.   His name is Howard Baldwin, one of the original owners of the Whalers who moved them from Boston to Hartford 36 years ago.

Baldwin has moved back here with his wife and they have opened an office right near the XL Center.   His plan is to beef up minor league hockey here and they pursue the NHL, all the while using the Whalers name.    It is essential a team be called the Whalers, according to Baldwin.

The man who produced  the movie “Ray” lays out an interesting case for major league hockey in Hartford.   I asked him whether rumors that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is anti-Hartford are true.  Baldwin says “no,” that Bettman wants what is good for the NHL, and Baldwin’s mission is to show his friend that Hartford is good for the NHL.

Baldwin is our guest this Sunday on Face the State.  Tune in at 11AM.

Incidentally, Whalers gear is all the rage right now.  I wore a new Whalers T-shirt to Wrigley Field last year and it got plenty of  “hey, where did you get that” types of questions.

My entourage and me at Wrigley, 2009

Forgot a job!
November 3, 2008

I forgot to mention in my previous post on jobs, that I worked as an extra for the television series “Spenser for Hire.”   I walked around in the background and met the late Robert Urich.   The show was filmed in Boston, so it was convenient.  The hours were long, but the pay wasn’t bad and the food was decent.   Look for me in the DVD collection!

Other Jobs?
October 31, 2008

After reading my previous entry about my start in television, someone asked what other kinds of jobs I did before I became a reporter.   When I thought about it,  I was amazed at just how many I had.

I was a paper boy,  cashier,  busboy,  grocery clerk,  dishwasher,  shopping cart collector, sales clerk, store detective, landscaper, waiter, bartender, host, concierge,  gift wrapper, a college admissions officer, an assistant,  meter feeder, and I once taught a history course to students earning their GED.

Marking a Milestone
October 28, 2008

This is me back in 1988 learning how to become a reporter.    Trying to make the transition from Rick Springfield wannabe to Dan Rather wasn’t easy.    Kara calls this my “Chachi” look.   One of our graphic artists saw the picture and immediately said “Charles in Charge.”    Enough with the Scott Baio comparisons!  

After an internship at WPRI in Providence, Rhode Island, I got a paying job as assistant assignment editor at WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire.   The pay was horrible, about $13,000 a year, and the hours were worse, but the education I received there was priceless.  

Two weeks after I started, my supervisor left to work for then NH Governor John Sununu.    I got promoted to assignment manager, and got a raise of more than $2000.   Woo hoo!  I tended bar on the weekends and made more money mixing manhattans and martinis in two days than I did all week in the glamorous world of television.

I lived with my grandmother for a while to save money.  Her house was about a half hour from the station.  It was great.  I got to spend time with her, she did my laundry and on Thursday nights we watched LA Law together.    Eventually,  a reporter at Channel 9 needed a roommate so we got an apartment in Manchester.  

I immediately fell in love with the news business.  I thrived on getting new information about stories.   On election day, at 4PM thanks to exit polls that only the media see, I knew that Vice-President George Bush had beaten Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis in the race for president, even if it couldn’t be reported until hours later. 

Every day I was at the station by 7AM, and went through several newspapers, made beat calls, and assembled a list of assignments for our crews to cover.  I hired people, did tons of research (there was no internet then,) answered phones, all under the watchful eye of a very demanding boss.     I was off the clock around 7PM, after the evening news and a post mortem of our newscast.   By the way, lunch was at my desk.

On some days, I stayed late…on my own time, and accompanied reporters in the field so I could learn from them and try to achieve my dream.  I would write my own version of the story, the reporter would tell me how to hold a microphone, and the photographer would record what I would say.    I went to crime scenes, meetings, even a plane crash.   Many nights stayed  with the crews through their 11PM live shots, and then go home.   I sometimes even came in on a Saturday or Sunday morning where my news director Miles Resnick would often work with me in the studio.  His advice:  lose the Boston accent and get a haircut. 

Those were long days, of  “paying my dues,”   and I loved every minute of it.

 I edited a resume tape (a sample of my work) and I was all set to work for CBS news.    Seriously, I knew I’d end up in an exotic locale such  as Amarillo, Texas,  Bakersfield, California or Wheeling, West Virginia.   On Thanksgiving weekend ’88 I house sat for some friends of my parents.  I took my typewriter and typed out roughly 35 resumes and cover letters and sent them with my tapes all over America.     I ended up getting  two offers:  one in Sarasota, Florida and the other in Rockford, Illinois.     I was off to the Land of Lincoln and the rest, they say,  is history.


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