Every year around April 4th I reflect on what to say about my dear departed friend and TV news mentor, the late Doug Viar. Doug literally dropped dead walking down the steps from his office in Jackson, Tennessee on April 4, 2011. Frankly, knowing Doug as I did, he wouldn’t have wanted to linger in some state of bad health, he’d much rather have gone that way.
You see, Doug also knew something that most news people today have completely forgotten. The story never was about him. You hardly ever saw Doug on the air in front of the camera. Maybe a half dozen times in his entire career spanning more than 3 decades. But folks all across the mid-south knew his voice.
Above, a montage of Doug’s famous sig outs from his news reports from across the mid south.
That’s the voice so many remember, long before Doug was ever on TV they heard it on radio. That’s where my broadcasting career began when Doug was a station manager at a small 1000 watt AM country station back in Northwest Tennessee.
It becomes a tad more difficult with each year that passes to offer up something new that I haven’t said in some post before. The one below summed up a lot of it right after returning from his funeral in Tennessee back in 2011. You can click on the image below to read the full post.
People that I worked with back in TV News, and those that worked with Doug long before me know what a great person he was.
“Back in 1983, I was the Poplar Bluff bureau chief for KFVS TV in Cape Girardeau, Mo. My videographer and I had just returned from covering a weeklong trial in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas . It was a Friday night. We were exhausted and ready to be home.
We got a call that night that we needed to head toward Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. It seems a federal fugitive who had gunned down two US Marshalls in the Dakotas had surfaced outside of Walnut Ridge. As federal , state and local authorities closed in to arrest him, he shot and killed the local sheriff and a gun battle erupted. The fugitive was killed and news crews from Memphis, Little Rock, Jonesboro, Arkansas and Cape Girardeau, MO were dispatched to get the story.
WREG TV in Memphis sent Doug Viar. KFVS TV sent me. There was a whole lot of waiting around that night at the sheriff’s office waiting for access to the crime scene. While waiting, my videographer and I discussed the fact that neither one of us had a credit card and we had no cash either. We were going to have to sleep in the car and eat after we left the next day, probably around noon. Doug overheard us discussing our plight. He told us he had a room at a local hotel. He said there were two beds. He said he was taking one and we could share the other or sleep on the floor. The next morning he bought us breakfast before we headed out to talk to local folks for the story. Then Doug was gone.
Years later when I was hired by WREG TV I ran into Doug and reminded him of his largesse. He just laughed and said he didn’t remember it. I told I sure did and would never forget it.
Doug was like that. He’d managed to make a lasting impression on someone and didn’t even know or remember what he’d done.”
Joe Larkins – Retired Anchor / Reporter WREG-TV Memphis : April 2019
“As an assignment editor I had the city of Memphis covered. Had contacts with all the law enforcement people in the area but when it came the areas outside of the city I had very few contacts. Oh but when I met Doug Viar the dry spell was over.
I would call Doug …. hey Doug have you heard about this incident in such and such ….. no but I will find out. He knew everybody and their mamma in the outlying areas of Memphis and they knew and respected him. He could find out or knew everything that went on in these areas. The TBI could not find the information he found …. he was just that good.
He schooled me and his good advice help make me one of the most successful assignment editor’s in the area. We were like brother and little sister.
Love and miss you Doug Viar.”
Ethel Sengstacke – Retired Assignment’s Manager – WREG-TV Memphis : April 2019
“One of my best memories of Doug was on a tragic day in Memphis in 1987 … as he and I were covering the triple murders at the Jade East Restaurant. While police weren’t sure about a motive, Doug and I found out that the family also sold jewelry at the restaurant. We played detectives to flush out our “robbery for jewelry by an insider” theory … which police confirmed days later. The suspects … one was a former employee … were eventually caught and all convicted. I believe some remain on Death Row Still. Doug knew his stuff and I was lucky to learn from him!”
Steve Hayslip – Former WREG-TV Anchor & Retired Anchor from WTVF-5 Nashville, TN : April 2019
The years tick by so quickly. Then you turn around and it’s almost been 10 years that someone passed away. Memories are great, but they don’t adequately describe the times we all had with Doug back in those days. He truly was one of a kind.
We all still miss you Doug, and we all pause a bit today to remember you and those great times when you were still here with us.