Don Shelby Retires

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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 Steve Hemmingsen stopped by the house one day last week. He was in the neighborhood and could only stay a minute.
A couple hours and a few drinks later (Coke for him, vodka for me) he left for home in his giant new pick-up truck that saves gas by burning
85 percent ethanol and a V-8 engine that switches to four cylinders whenever the vehicle’s computer decides that’s all the power it needs.
Anyway, we chatted about a lot of things; mostly having to do with getting old.
He turns 65 on May 17th..the magic age when the government allegedly starts paying you back for all those years of paying in huge chunks of your paycheck.
It’ll be my turn in 6 months so we talked about Medicare supplements and prescription drugs and social security checks for a while. We’d stop for a minute and start to laugh about what a couple of geezers we sounded like..then go right back at it comparing the number of trips we each make to the toilet each night..and how we’ve both experienced a strange phenomenon of our suits mysteriously shrinking in the closet.
We also chatted a little bit about TV news and how we miss it sometimes but we’re also kind of glad we got out when we did.
Speaking of getting out; Don Shelby has announced his retirement from WCCO-TV after some 30 years behind the anchor desk.
I’ve only met Shelby a couple of times and to be honest was a bit intimidated by him. He, afterall, was heir to the legendary Dave Moore who reigned over Twin Cities television for decades.
Shelby, with his slim trim body, perfectly coiffed hair,  high polished shoes and tailored three piece pin stripe navy blue suit with carefully coordinated tie, looked like a million bucks..which, oddly enough, is the amount WCCO paid him each year to do the same job Hemmingsen and I were doing a couple hundred miles to the West for much less…a LOT less..a ridiculous amount of money less.
But, to Shelby’s credit, he worked hard for his millions and ‘CCO spared no expense to send him all over the world to do stories and to head up the infamous I-TEAM doing award winning (2 Emmys..2 Peabody’s) investigations.
He had to endure a lot of initial resentment from viewers for trying to fill Dave Moore’s shoes after the elder statesman of broadcast journalism retired. But eventually, Shelby, himself, became nearly as big of an icon as his predecessor and mentor.
Also, unlike Hemmingsen and me, I doubt if the 63 year old Don Shelby will be content to pass the time loafing around playing golf, woodworking or writing blogs.  He’s one of those go-getter guys who needs to be “out there” in the public eye.
Anyway, he’s been a real credit to Midwest television news and I’m sure WCCO is going to feel the loss after his last broadcast November 22nd. But from everything I’ve read, Shelby as been a real friend and mentor to the younger newsies at the station who could do a lot worse than follow his example of style and substance.
Oh, and I’ll bet in three years..HIS suits will still fit.

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