The other day one of the old-timers in our business passed away. Bud Shilcoski was at 16 when I started here; he had been here since the first television signals paraded unseen through the air to land in little boxes with funny glass fronts thereby changing forever what we could see of the world. Bud was in at the beginning of it all.
I came in as a kid out of radio having little idea of what needed to be done in the news end of television beyond gathering the facts. Fortunately for me Bud was in Master Control and to my benefit took a liking to me and I to him. In those days weekend shows frequently had no producers so the anchor (me when there was no one else) produced, wrote and finally told the news. Any technical questions I had Bud had answers for. He was my lifeline on many a day when the world was falling apart a half-hour before show time. I cannot adequately explain the feeling of standing alone on a simple set in a cavernous studio trying your best to sound authoritative, that you are in control all the while wondering whether you had crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s. Good at times like that to know Bud had my back.
Time moved on and so did the electronics. There is no Master Control here now, just computers. Bud up and retired and spent time away from television, only making the very occasional visit and to tell the truth I lost track of him, an unfortunate circumstance that happens all too frequently. When it does, death eventually comes calling and reminds us about what we had. In my case it was the memory of a guy sitting at a control panel in a room that sounded much like the bowling alley where I set pins in high school. Bud sat in his chair watching the gauges, pushing the buttons, helping make a kid who had little idea of what he was doing on television let alone knowing what he was doing look as if it was a walk in the park. I knew one thing through it all, Bud Shilcoski always had my back.