Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The hard-working young man pictured above, Dusty Weis, is about to take his talents to Souf Beach. (With apologies to Dusty…and LeBron James….I stole the picture from Dusty’s Facebook page. Sue me, Dusty!)
In a few days, Dusty will make the leap from radio market #98 (Madison) to radio market #12 (Miami metro area). Like LeBron, Dusty plays the radio news game at the top level. Unlike LeBron, Dusty won’t choke when he hits the big-time.
I met Dusty the way I met so many young news people in the twilight of my career as a news anchor: some station official dragged Dusty into my on-air studio a few years ago and said “here’s a new guy; see what you can do with him.”
I soon learned that this new guy, raised in Monroe, who’d graduated from the UW-Madison Journalism School and had recently decamped from Portage after a stint with the Portage Daily Register, could actually write. He was one of the handful of people I’ve met in my decades of radio news who actually understood how the English language works, and most of the rules on how to use it. He paid attention to things like grammar and syntax, case and pronoun agreement, and the rest of the picky rules that too many J-school grads these days have apparently never heard of.
Not only did Dusty know the rules, he knew how to write clear, concise, and colorful sentences. He had a knack for capturing the essence of a story and writing it clearly. (It ain’t that easy, folks.) There was some stylistic flair to his writing. Not only that – he LOVED to write. So, my job in mentoring Dusty was easy: write, write, write, Dusty. Keep writing. Write more. I’ll put a few red marks on your copy and go over it with you. After a few weeks of this, it was clear that there wasn’t much I could teach him; he was operating at a level well above market standards, and getting better on his own every day. All I had to do was cheer him on. He knew how to choose the right “sound bite” for the story, how to make a story flow, and had mastered the myriad technical things that go into producing a professional radio news story.
I wasn’t a bit surprised when Dusty told me a few days ago he was headed to a heritage news/talk radio station in Miami. His last few months covering the shenanigans at the Capitol have enabled him to put together a resume that any news director would put on the top of the pile. Dusty’s stuff from the Capitol was great: no electronic media reporter up there did a better job than Dusty, and he put in marathon hours gathering, writing, editing, and voicing his reports. This is what is often called “paying your dues.”
Dusty has paid his dues, and Madison’s loss will soon be Miami’s gain. (Dusty would NEVER write a cliché like the prior sentence!) He’s gonna thrive in that Miami environment, and I have absolutely no doubt that he’ll soon make a name for himself in that big zoo.
I’m honored to have been a colleague, Dusty. Remember your Wisconsin roots, and wear your Badgers and Packers gear with pride.
Posted by Tim Morrissey at 2:24 PM