Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Golden Agers Reunite during Uncertain Era

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Golden Agers Reunite during Uncertain Era

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

For WJXT TV-4, the 1960s and 1970s were a Golden Age.

TV-4 was a great TV station and a first-rate news organization, and everyone knew it.

The esprit de corps forged at TV-4 during those years never left. Which was why about 127 people who worked at the station during those years gathered this weekend at the Sea Turtle Inn in Atlantic Beach for a reunion. Spouses swelled the overall turnout to about 180 people.

"It's amazing that so many people would care," said Ernie Mastroianni, Duval County's property assessor, who was a reporter and editor at TV-4 from 1967 to '81.

"It's because of the people," said Mike Patrick, a TV-4 sportscaster from 1970 to '76 and now ESPN's play-by-play man on NFL football. "I'd have come from Japan. It wouldn't have mattered."

"I think everybody had a great time when they were here," said Steve Kroft, now a correspondent on CBS's 60 Minutes. "We were number one in the market, it was a great news organization and we kicked butt every day."

"Look around this room and you still see the magic," said Michael Castengera, who was a reporter at TV-4 from 1977 to '79 and now is a television consultant and instructor in broadcast news at the University of Georgia.

Why was TV-4 such a great TV station in those years?

John Thomas, who worked at TV-4 from 1963 to '81 as a reporter and anchor before spending the past two decades with Florida Public Television, said TV-4 emerged as a great station during the mid-'60s under the leadership of the late Bill Grove, who had the kind of avuncular authority locally that Walter Cronkite had nationally.

"The huge news story in those days was consolidation, and Channel 4 was the real leader in that," Thomas said. "The leadership in exposing all of the corruption that led to consolidation really did give the station a lot of the momentum. …

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