Doug Viar : Remembering My Friend & News Mentor 9 Years Later

Mid-South News legend, mentor & friend the late Doug Viar (L) in this photo with me back in 2007. We were catching up at Neil’s restaurant in Dyersburg, TN about three years after I’d moved to Virginia permanently. Little did I know four years later, Doug would be gone.

Doug Viar left us on this very day 9 years ago in April of 2011. Just short of a decade. As many of you know Doug was my TV news mentor. He taught me just about everything I know today about reporting, videography, editing and more. He was a true newsman. We conquered more than a few major news stories. But Doug is the legend, he was the pro.

Doug Viar (far left) speaks to then TN Emergency Management Assistant Director, Charlie Bryant during flooding we were covering in NW-TN. Ironically Charlie Bryant just died this past week. In the background are, then WREG Reporters, Doug Johnson and Pam Crittenden. Today they are married and out of the TV news business.

Anyone back in the Mid-South will remember the voice of Doug Viar. He seldom was seen on camera, but was a constant voice on TV and radio across region for decades.

I often think what Doug would have to say about what’s taking place right now in TV news. I probably shouldn’t use the words here, to keep it family rated, but I can tell you he wouldn’t think much of it. He knows it’s theater and show biz now, not truly news. Doug was well respected from the networks, state and federal lawmen, judges, and viewers for getting it right and not pulling any punches. But he was always fair. We were the severe weather go to team in those days. Big snows, tornadoes, floods, we were on it, either by air or ground. Both of us were pilots and often flew to the scene, shot the story, got back and edited and had it on the air before other teams even made the scene. Those were some frontier days by today’s comparisons.

Above one of the dozens of tornadoes Doug and I covered. By the time I covered this tornado in the early 2000s for The Weather Channel, Doug owned his own satellite uplink company. He was manning the truck out of view while I was on air back to Atlanta.

Doug back in 2002 – Cookeville, TN with his first sat truck he purchased. I was covering a snowstorm for The Weather Channel. Doug was my sat truck I’d meet and send our reports back to Atlanta from.

I find it hard to believe Doug has been gone almost 10 years. When the chaos of Coronavirus 2020 started hitting here in the U.S. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to reach for the phone and say, “Doug what do you make of all of this?” But realize, I can’t.

Doug Viar on the old news set at CNN in Atlanta a few years before his death. CNN was one of Doug’s major satellite uplink clients back in the day.

I still stay in touch with Doug’s wife Margaret. She’s essentially a second mom to me. I also stay in touch with his daughter Lori. She’s the one that broke the news to me back in 2011 that Doug was gone. A message first, then a phone call that I will never forget. Doug’s other daughter Michelle lives in the UK these days, but I keep up with her from her sister and mom. Ironically Doug’s brother George, who I speak with a few times a year, was my pilot instructor in 1980 when I was licensed to fly.

I made a promise that I’d always remember Doug in writing on this day. 2020 is no different in that respect. There’s lots more pressing issues going on right now, no doubt. But, I wanted to remember a man that shaped and molded my perspective of TV news and how it should be done. He was the best.

Doug we all still miss you, but it’s probably is best you aren’t around right now! 😉

You would know what I mean.

About tommystafford

Recovering from life as TV news reporter. Airplane & helicopter pilot. Weather guesser. Farmer. Trail runner, dad & husband living in the beautiful Central Virginia Blue Ridge mountains!
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2 Responses to Doug Viar : Remembering My Friend & News Mentor 9 Years Later

  1. Pingback: I Think I Know How My Dad May Have Felt When Paul Harvey Died. And Why |

  2. Pingback: 10 Years Ago Today TV News Lost A Legend. I Lost My Friend : Remembering Doug Viar |

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