Anchor Babes | Deep End | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Anchor Babes 

Silver foxes of broadcasting land a digital gig on Salt TV.

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Good for them, I say. The overwhelming majority of Utahns think they are a sad group, grasping with arthritic fingers at some last shred of former glory. But I say, good for them! Long since forgotten, their names unfamiliar even to the oldest living residents of Utah, they are not going gentle into that good night, nor are they dozing away their golden years in the old-folks home, bickering around the clock about what year it was exactly that they saw Andy Williams (or was it Perry Como?) at the Fontainebleau down in Miami (or was it the Sahara in Vegas?).

No, instead of battling with their fellow geezers for whose turn it is to be in charge of the remote control so they can watch reruns of the Golden Girls or Lawrence Welk, these salty senior citizens are getting back into the ring. You’ve read about them in the paper, or seen them online, where they are promoting their new journalistic venture, something called “Salt TV,” where they promise what one of the geezers called “a more personal form of reporting,” which apparently will include updates on their own personal struggles with incontinence, impotence and constipation.

They call themselves “The Dream Team,” an elite group of elderly journalists who say they are “going back to the roots of journalism.” Most of them, of course, spent their decades (in some cases centuries) on the air just sitting at a desk reading from a teleprompter. Nevertheless, these spunky old-timers are getting into the field for the first time, reaching back to the roots of journalism by lugging around their cuneiform tablets in search of breaking news.

Much as I admire the “can-do” spirit of the Dream Team (sources reveal that the geezers bickered endlessly about what to call themselves: Other favored monikers were the Over the Hill Gang, the Six Feet Under Group, the Botox Boys and Creaking News), I do worry when I see how hard they are working as they chase down a lead, or do a stand-up next to a stream swollen with flood water. Last week, for instance, one of the Botox Boys nearly drowned when his wheelchair started rolling down the riverbank.

A source close to the Dream Team assures me, however, that the production staff takes great care to ensure their safety, health, and wellbeing. On every shoot, sources tell me, members of the Dream Team are accompanied by a medical crew trained in CPR. Nurses are on hand with oxygen tanks, heart monitors and special extendable sticks to poke Dream Teamers who fall asleep during on-air interviews.

I spoke privately with several of the Dream Teamers, and I must say I was both touched and moved by their determination to drink life to the lees, like Tennyson’s Ulysses, and do some work of noble note near the end, ere they are gathered into that eternal silence. In fact, one of the elderly gents on the team claims to have actually sailed with Ulysses and covered his exploits on the windy plains of Troy.

I have doubts about some of the famous people he says he covered, especially Pliny the Elder, who was known to refuse all interviews. But, he is pretty convincing when he recounts his adventures when he embedded with Father Escalante or describes his epic drinking bouts with the late Jim Bridger. I believe this geezer when he tells me he will die in the harness. He doesn’t like being fussed over by the nurses with their CPR equipment, but does admit that occasionally he makes use of the defibrillator to “pep myself up a bit” before he goes on air. Nevertheless, he always carries with him a card that says “do not resuscitate.”

Even death does not have to signify the end of things, especially for elderly journalists like the Dream Team. Computer magic can bring the dead back to life, like those commercials with Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner. (Some Salt Lake City television viewers mistakenly believe that one or two of the Dream Team geezers now hawking products on local TV have been digitally resurrected from the dead.)

Plans are in the works at major networks to use digital legerdemain to put Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley back in the anchor’s chair. That scheme is probably doomed to fail, however. Consider how quickly people forgot about the Dream Teamers once they were off the air. Now hardly anyone is alive who actually remembers Uncle Walter.

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