Ahead of this Q & A, Randy Price released the following statement to Boston TV News:
“When I was a student, and then just starting in the business, some of
my greatest impressions came from the pros who had been at it for a
while and who took just a little time to share their insights and
experiences. Now that I am on the other side of the equation, it is the
same kind of interactive relationship that I have with so many of the
young student employees and interns who we have here at 7 News. I come
away with as much feedback and understanding as I hopefully can share
with others … so I’m really pleased to be participating in this BTVN
1. In 50 words or less, describe yourself as a person
Rather than describe myself, something that is better left to others, I
can describe what I aim to be. In my case, I grew up in a hard-working
blue collar world with parents who gave of themselves so that their
children would have a better life. They were fair and honest people who
cherished family values and their faith, made the most of the
opportunities they were given, and believed in helping their fellow man.
Like most of us, I have been given much. I try hard to make the most of
that and remember the values of my childhood. Certainly when it comes to
fairness and honesty, it is the core of the profession which I have chosen.
2. Can you recall the precise moment or the process by which you decided
you wanted to become a broadcaster? When was it?
I started my college education heading in a totally different direction
than the one I am on. One day, sitting in my dorm room(probably not
studying!) I heard a solicitation on the campus radio station … to join
the staff. I guess you could label that a “Calling”. I honestly had
never thought about it before that moment even though as a kid, I could
become mesmerized watching those remote broadcasts where local DJs would be
at a department store or the like. Just something about that broadcasting
to the masses! I changed my major, had a great time in campus radio, and
then part-time commercial radio.. eventually TV when I served in the Air
Force with American Forces Radio and TV..
3. How did you get your first professional on-air job?
Hanging around and begging! Of course, once you get rolling, its all in
what you can do for yourself. In addition to the campus experience where I
really learned things from some rabidly enthusiastic older students and some
pros, I started to gather tapes of the people who were big names in the
business and study what they were doing. Since I was on the air in a minor
way, I of course studied my own tapes. However disappointing and
frustrating that process can be, it is key to improving your performances
skills. It’s all in the tape … listening, improving and then selling
yourself to others. Eventually, if you are lucky as well as work hard, you
will have others who will “sell” you. That’s when you really have
4. How and why did you end up in Boston?
Generally, the idea is that you start small and hopefully move up.
“Up” is obviously like “beauty” … it is in the eye of the beholder! My
goal eventually was to work in a major market where the economy would
provide a good livlihood and stimulating professional environment, in a
city that I would love and enjoy . You have to move to move up, but you can
get into a pattern of “moving” a lot, and I didn’t want that. I love
having roots and feeling the connection to home.
Once I finally made the transition to TV news, I spent two years in
Bakersfield, California(long enough!), 4 years in Toledo, Ohio(a real growth
period) and for more than twenty years I’ve been here in Boston.
Obviously, when you aim to be in places like Boston, or the larger networks,
you are “invited” at that level. It’s a buyers’ market. A number of
people in the consultant/corporate management ranks had liked my work and I
ended up coming here to my dream opportunity because of them(and my tape!)
5. Has your perception of a person ever changed dramatically having
interviewed them (for better or for worse)? If so, who?
My perception of a person ALWAYS changes. That’s the beauty of being a
reporter. When you sit with someone… in their home or office and get to
examine the facts without all of the misperceptions that are often floating
about, you come away with new insight and understanding. There is always
so much more that is not understood about people and events. Once you tap
into that, you start to comprehend the texture of the story. You can’t
report all of that stuff in TV, but it reshapes your thinking.
6. What keeps you from becoming overly cynical about the news business?
The desire to NOT be cynical. In fact, I can’t stand to be in the
presence of cynical people. It can be entertaining for a while, then it is
just wearing and unproductive. We have a lot of cynics because it is a
business of questioning … people and events. But to slip beyond that into
the world of negative, always suspicious, questioning can make you less
than the standard of fairness that we seek to be.
7. I’m sure you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, but is there a part of you that yearns to return to reporting?
I may be an anchor, but we are all reporters in the kinds of decisions
that we make everyday about the stories we are covering as a news operation.
I’m just not doing it as much “on location” as I used to. I don’t
necessary miss that because what I am doing is an important component of the
overall process. I can you how much I appreciate the years of experience I
had in the field. which are invaluable. When I first moved to New England,
I had a morning news program for years. Almost every day I also went out
and covered stories all across New England. What a way to learn the region
… it’s places.. it’s people. And then, a little later, I had a
news-magazine program which was topical, but also had wonderful feature
stories … many of which I was able to report and produce. All of this
gives me such a totally different experience base than had I come to New
England as a news anchor and never actually covered the stories of the day.
This just makes you a different kind of anchor. And of course, I do
occassionally go on location for stories … i.e. the impeachment hearings
in Washington, or on board the U-S-S Roosevelt during the war in
8. Some years ago, you had some difficulties in your life which meant that you had to leave WBZ. How hard was it to find another position in the Boston market?
The time of my drunken driving arrest … as painful and public as it
was then for me and those who had faith in me as a person… turned out to
be a great turning point in so many ways.
Leaving WBZ after 15 years was a difficult thing. They are wonderful
people there and treated me like a friend even in those circumstances. But
the truth is, things had been changing for me and WBZ. I had personal
issues which needed a long hard look and committment to change. WBZ at
that time was starting to experience a declining number of opportunities and
I was probably one person who had stayed too long anyway. Sometimes you
need to be pushing yourself and not be so comfortable…to take risk.
Of course, making the kind of mistake that I had made, and really being
UNemployable in such a public business is not the kind of risk I suggest !!
But it turned out that I had an advocate in my corner who had a most
untraditional attitude … about our failures as human beings … and about
TV news in general when it comes to the Boston market. He changed Boston TV
news … and my life when he advocated for my return to TV. The business
had changed and so had I when I resurfaced on 7. That fact that I have
ended up in the most visable role in local TV is a daily reminder to me of
life lessons I have learned. Always treat your co-workers and viewers
9. Have you ever been offered or auditioned for a network job? If so, when and for whom?
It may sound like sour grapes or dismissive, but no, it has never
crossed my mind. Above difficulties asside, I really do enjoy my life here
… the TV news business here. I have most of what one could want in life
and I’m thankful for it. I must add though, if I were starting in the
business today, I might aim in a somewhat different direction. I think to
work on one of the major magazine programs would be a thrill. The kind of
long format that lets a story breathe, yet doesn’t compromise great story
telling, suspense and slick production value, is one of the great places to
be in our business.
10. Does working for a small company such as Sunbeam have any advantages or
disadvantages over working for a larger conglomerate such as Hearst, Viacom, or News Corp?
Yes, many advantages. To begin, we manage in a totally different way
… no consultants, no focus groups, research projects that drive the
content of our news. Having spent most of my career in “group” stations, I
can’t tell you what a change it has been in coming to Sunbeam. It is a
local family owned station and is so basic in it’s approach to covering
news. We stay very close to what we personally believe viewers want out of
TV news and get tremendous support from the company in getting the job done.
If business(advertising) is bad, yet we need to spend enormous amounts on
manpower and tools to do a job that we think is better than our competitors,
we get that support. The other side of this is that with a limited number
of decision makers, things are very direct and get right to the point.
Most people in the business are more used to the “cushioned” approach of
larger corporate management where there are many layers that tend to drag
things along. At 7, you have to be ready run and get the job done then.
11. How do you respond to the criticism that 7 News covers too much national
news and not enough on the local front, especially human interest stories?
Back to what I was just saying: We cover the news we think is of
interest to “local” people, not just “local” news. These are the decisions
of our managers, not consultants. If we reach the point of making more bad
decisions(and we make some) than good decisions, viewers will be letting us
know…and guess what, you up and coming pros.. there will be some job
12. In 2003, your former colleague Jeff Derderian made tragic
headlines himself. How difficult was it for everyone (both on-air and off-air staff) to cover that particular story?
It is very difficult when someone you know and admire .. with a
wonderful family… ends up in one of the worst stories of our time. After
all that has been said about who did what and why, we know Jeff to be a good
person …. as are many of the people we don’t know who end up in such a
media spotlight. Jeff’s story is just one of many examples in these times
of stories taking on a life of their own … with their own momentum and
13. We all know that, as a journalist, you are trained to be utterly neutral
and never to let your emotions be shown, how difficult was it to adhere to
those rules on September 11th, 2001?
Of course, we are never really neutral are we? We are all human beings
hopefully with feelings and emotions and just like cops and firefighters,
you just learn to keep them in check. But they are there. September 11th
was such a demanding time, in some ways we were not going slow enough to
focus on the magnitude and tragedy. I do remember going home at night..
exhausted of the whole thing … only to turn on the TV and watch more. It
was the time when I became like all others viewers who were watching. It
was sad and depressing.
14. In the wake of September 11th, many journalists suggested that “real
news” of the sort covered by Edward R. Murrow had made its return, and that
the days of Chandra Levy, O.J. Simpson, and Elian Gonzales were behind us. Several years on, do you believe that this theory still holds water? Did it ever?
Wow, I never heard that said. I’m not sure I know what it means.
Edward Murrow is now an icon in Journalism, but the times have changed and
our ability to cover news of immediacy didn’t exist then. The main thing
we focus on here at 7 and what everyone focused on those days in September
is bringing viewers the most comprehensive picture of that story .. from as
many angles as we can. We had satellite truck drivers and technicians and
videographers and reporters who did everything imaginable to get into New
York the moments after the attacks … and to be in Washington,
Pennsylvania, Logan Airport and locations all across New England … in the
most chaotic days that any of us can remember. I think Edward Murrow
would have been pleased with what they did to bring that story home to 7
15. What has been your most proud personal moment as a journalist?
Well, I’ve been at it a few years, so I’ve had many moments that made me
proud. They break down into a couple of categories. One, most of us are
in the business to score. To do a better job on the story is what we aim
to do every day. When you are on first or exclusively, with the best
video, and just the best sound and information possible, you’ve scored
personally. That passion drove journalists in the days of Edward Murrow
and decades before and it still drives many of us today. The second category is less obvious. There are just the stories where you know you have been able to make a difference in someone’s life. To simply do your job and be able to make a difference and have those people know you did that for them simply in fairness and truth is another feeling that tops
the charts in my book.
16. If an aspiring journalist is interested in working in television, should
they also educate themselves in aspects of radio? If yes, why? Should someone
interested in radio look at TV?
All of the above! They’re different and each has unique advantages
and disadvantages. I’ve done(and occassionally do) both and both offer a
lot. Principles you learn in one will help you in the other. I think you
have to go any and every-where you find opportunities … the sooner the
better. It is so competitive these days, you actually have to have a lot
of experience to get your FIRST job. Internships and part-time jobs are
crucial… even in related fields. I actually spent a couple of years
after my Air Force duty and before I could land a news job working for a
large production company in Los Angeles. My first job there was as the Boom
or “Arm” operator on a camera crane. I moved up eventually to be the
driver! … and then other assignments. But, I got to watch some of the
best pros in action … lighting directors, producers, directors , set
designers, performers and so forth. It was a great learning experience
about TV production that has been a big help throughout my news career.
17. Do you have a specific on-air gaffe you’d rather forget?
There are so many! We’ve all made them. It comes with the territory.
I’ve at least reached the point where I understand that the recovery is more
important than the transgression… and it takes a team sometimes. When
beginning the news one night, my co-anchor was saying the line “and that
comes from Attorney General Janet Reno… the nation’s top cop” … except
… it came out “and that comes from Attorney General Janet Reno … the
nation’s top COCK” . Now, that took a little effort to maintain a straight
Until the package rolled and the mics were off. At that point everyone
from the control room to the audio booth to graphics to the newsroom fell
totally out of their chairs. And some viewers at home were asking “Did she
just say …..?”
18. Do you socialize regularly with any of your on-air colleagues?
Yes, we do get together from time to time and some of my co-workers
are great friends. It wouldn’t be fair to them to mention their names here,
but let me say that working with people you admire and enjoy is probably one
of the most significant factors to having a great day. It is far more
significant than most of the things that tend to distract us.
19. Tell us one thing about yourself that none of your fans know.
Caterina Bandini and I SHARE a dressing room. I’ve asked her to stop
trying on my clothes.
She’ll read this and say the say the same! So yes, I’m kidding. We’re
great roommates and she is one of the best things in my life…. and a great
team leader here at 7.
20. Would you recommend participating in one of these Q & A’s to any of your
colleagues? If so, why?
Well, I can’t speak for others, but I’ve enjoyed it, think it is a
great idea, and appreciate the questions. Here at 7, we have a ton of
young and talented people who are the lifeblood of the most driven news
gathering machine I’ve seen. It is their new and fresh ideas along with
the experience of our long time pros who make our product what it is. and
different from the rest. It is a tough shop … demanding and not
everyone’s cup of tea, but one where many people in our industry helped
build their skills and expertise. I know some of the people who visit BTVN
are looking forward to their careers. And maybe, we’ll be fortunate to
have you with us here at 7.