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Gary Eichten profiled: "just a helluva deal"

Posted at 9:25 AM on March 31, 2007 by Bill Wareham

It's about time someone did a profile of Gary Eichten, and the Star Tribune's Jon Tevlin did a pretty good job of capturing him in this article.

I'm particularly impressed that he caught the seeming contradiction between Gary's superb ad-lib skills and his propensity to script every word ahead of time. And that allows me to tell a little story to explain why he needs to do that.

Gary and I started working together back in the early 1980s on the regional edition of All Things Considered; he was the host/producer, I was the technical director. I noticed then how he'd script everything, and would occasionally ask/rib him about it.

Then came the day he didn't have time to type out (yes, we used typewriters back then. Manual typewriters) the last page for the program - two or three lines that almost never changed from day to day.

One of those lines was my credit - "Technical director for the program is Bill Wareham." Now, I had been doing this every day for about a year, yet when Gary tried to adlib his way through it, he paused slightly after "technical director" looked me square in the eye through the control room glass and blurted the first name that came to his mind. As you've probably guessed, it wasn't mine, it was the guy who preceded me in the job.

It's one of the very few mistakes I've heard him make over the last 25 years. He's really one of the very best news persons (I'd call him a journalist if he didn't consider that a tad pretentious) in this state, not to mention a helluva guy, and Tevlin does him justice.