“Why not think about times to come?
And not about the things that you’ve done?
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.” (1977) “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” Recorded By: Fleetwood Mac Composer: Christine McVie
Looking back, I guess I have always been a newshound. Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed watching the news. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it’s an honest statement.
Here in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex, WFAA has seemingly always been around since the early days of radio. In fact, radio is where WFAA started, only to naturally branch out when television became a new medium. It became an ABC affiliate. Although WFAA kept their radio station buzzing, they eventually opened up a huge three-studio television station in their broadcast building at Record St and Young St in downtown Dallas. The radio station moved to the second floor while the television station, Channel 8, took the first floor. To say it is an historic TV station is to put it lightly. The application for the television station was filed in October of 1944, during WWII. It first signed on the air in September of 1949.
WFAA Ch8, set the bar high when it came to production and talent. If the other three major TV stations in town were to be honest, WFAA Ch8 was/is hard to match. They just always seemed to be a step above the competition. Growing up, we rarely watched any other local TV station.
In 1961, radio guy, Bob Gooding was just climbing off the air at WFAA radio. As he tipped his hat goodbye to his coworkers, he made his way down the stairs to the parking lot where his car was waiting for the end of his radio shift. Outside, on the way to the car, Bob saw a line of men stretching around the corner of the building. When he inquired as to what was taking place, he discovered WFAA-TV was in the process of screening open auditions for a news anchor. Right away, he took the script of news copy they were handing out and got in line. Bob auditioned and was hired the same day. I must say, that just hardly ever happens in any competitive talent industry.
Bob Gooding was a natural. He was a no-nonsense newsman, polished, and distinguished. His delivery was a midwestern sound, no Texas accent, with a smooth baritone voice, along with a handsome business-like face. He was super articulate, as well as, authoritative. He was the type that could have accepted a job in New York with one of the big three networks. Walter Cronkite had nothing on Bob Gooding. Bob Gooding could have easily worked alongside people like ABC’s Frank Reynolds, or Peter Jennings.
As a kid, when Bob Gooding was delivering the 6 o’clock, or 10 o’clock news, it was drawing to me. He was trusted with the facts, the way news anchors used to be in those days. Back in the 1970’s, the WFAA newscast was called, “The Scene Tonight”. With Bob Gooding at the news desk, those words had an element of realism without filter or slant. Indeed, that was the flavor of news in that time.
I never met Mr. Gooding, but I have worked with a few people who did. Everyone who knew him says the same thing about his integrity. In my radio days, my main jobs had to do with hosting music shifts, and voicing/producing commercials. From time to time, I also did fill-in work to help cover when others were sick, or on vacation. Anytime I worked as a news anchor, although I never considered myself a news guy, I would always think of Bob Gooding’s integrity when the mic was on, or in front of the camera. He set a high standard.
Photo: Bob Gooding WFAA CH8
As top-shelf as he was on the air, as trusted as he was to deliver the facts without commentary or bias, as gifted as he was with integrity of true journalism, it was his nightly sign-off which is the most memorable. After each news hour, or half hour, as he was given the floor director’s countdown to end of broadcast, he had a unique sign off for the viewer. With his final ten seconds, he would look sincerely into the camera, smile with authenticity, and say:
“And that’s the Scene Tonight here at WFAA Ch8. From all of us here, goodnight, and better tomorrows.” – Bob Gooding
Of course, today, if a news anchor signed-off with that phrase, it would sound a bit corny. Yet, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, with a man like Bob Gooding delivering those words with a warm genuine smile, the viewer was left with a sense of, ‘a better day is coming’. One couldn’t help but be left with the idea that even though bad news is hard to digest, there’s always a hope for betterment, a future with a brighter viewpoint, a statement a viewer could lean into as they set the alarm clock, or tuck their children to bed. Looking back, I can see where Mr. Gooding did what he could to leave the TV audience with an uplift in the face of a darkened world each night.
Isn’t that what we all long for as we lay our heads on the pillow? Don’t we all want to look forward to new beginnings, new attitudes, new sunrises? Too often we head off to bed right after turning off the tube, or the internet, which landed a few downers around our hopes and dreams. Isn’t it true, that we turn off our bedside lamp with echoes of searing sarcasm, bad news without a sense of rising from despair, delivered by some news anchor, talk show host, or some talking head opinion broadcast? Far from, “Goodnight, and better tomorrows.”
I am guilty of not allowing God’s voice in my last thoughts just before drifting off. Way too often, I allow the dogma of scary times in our world to dominate in my last waking minutes. How can I expect to rise the following morning with a bounce in my house shoes? When our shirt gets dirty from the elements outside, we take it off and wash it, right? Why not do the same with our thought-life. In the last 5 years, or so, my wife and I read scripture just before nodding off. Sometimes we read a devotional, or a bio of an uplifting life. It’s what makes for better days, better dreams, better outlooks.
I think Bob Gooding’s message to us each night was not to rest on the foulness of what comes over the airwaves, but rather, resist being pushed down by the heavy weight of the vile, the awareness of bad news, or the evil that permeates the world in which we live. In other words, to digest what we have been made aware of, whether good or bad, with the truth that tomorrow holds a hope. For those of faith, it’s about seeing the happenings around us with eyes wide opened concerning Who holds the future.
Bob Gooding was on the air at WFAA CH8 from, 1961-1979. He passed away from a lengthy battle with cancer in 2009.
Thank you, Mr. Gooding.
So, what’s tomorrow? Another day. Another opportunity. Another benchmark. Another chance. Another answer. Another hope. Another blessing unseen today.
Reaching out for tomorrow’s promise can be discovered in fuel for the race.
“‘I the Lord God have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will strengthen thee…'” Isaiah 42:6a (Brenton Septuagint Translation)