..
PROFILE:
RUSS BLOXOM
WBAP/KXAS-TV NEWS REPORTER AND ANCHOR
.
.
Russ Bloxom was in the right place at the right time.  He not only saw the evolution of TV news from newsreels in the 1960s to live reporting in the 1970s, he was an integral part of it as longtime news anchor and reporter for WBAP-TV/KXAS-TV from 1967-79.  Russ worked alongside some of the pioneers in TV broadcasting, including weatherman Harold Taft, announcer Frank Mills and news executive James A. Byron, and shared the limelight with notables such as Bob Schieffer, Chip Moody, Jack Brown and Boyd Matson.  During his tenure at Channel 5, the station pioneered the use of multiple anchors in a single newscast, and enjoyed its highest ratings to date by the mid-1970s.
.
Russ Bloxom's broadcasting career began at radio station KCLE in Cleburne, TX at age 17.  He was a junior at Paschal High School in Fort Worth then, and worked at KCLE as a staff announcer from 1956-59.  (Russ attributes much of his early entry into broadcasting to his high school speech teacher, the late Miriam Todd; to KCLE's owner, George Marti, who accepted Russ for on-air work with no prior experience; and to mentor Sam Riddle, another Todd speech student who already was a popular KCLE announcer...Riddle spent later years as a radio DJ in Los Angeles [where he lives today] and eventually formed Sam Riddle Productions for television projects.)  Fortunately, owner Marti remembers with a smile the night Russ locked himself out of KCLE while a 45 RPM record was playing on FM.  Russ had stepped outside to look at the moon.  The door automatically locked and he had no key!  The song, "Moonglow," soon ended as Russ made a frantic call to the (late) news director John Butner.  An amused Butner showed up laughing so hard, he could hardly get his key in the door.  Russ dashed inside to stop the strange noise of a thrashing needle on the blank part of a vinyl record, which listeners heard about 15 minutes!  Or maybe they didn't.  No one called.  A forgiving and patient Marti never discussed the incident.

While attending college at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, he made the move to local KJIM as an announcer, and stayed there from 1959-61.  He also concurrently worked for campus station KTCU as the general manager during his junior and senior years.  Upon graduation in 1961, he joined the Air Force and later took his Speech and Radio/TV/Film degree to radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, a top-rated station that launched his journalism career (KXOL was #1 for its Top 40 music and 24-hour news coverage on the scene.)  He worked as a field reporter and newscaster there until 1967, under the tutelage of station owner Earle Fletcher.
.
Bob Schieffer, best known today as a CBS News correspondent and host of "Face the Nation", was fresh out of a stint in Vietnam and was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and KXOL when Channel 5 News Director James A. Byron (d. 11/3/1979) hired him to host WBAP's newsreel program.  Bob contacted his friend Russ Bloxom and urged him to make the switch from radio news to TV news.  Russ left KXOL in 1967 and joined WBAP-TV.  James A. Byron enticed Russ with a salary increase to make the move, and his long career in television news was officially launched!  He was first a weekend news anchor and a staff reporter, and was soon promoted to anchor the "High Noon News".  Russ continued with Channel 5 as primetime anchor and reporter until retiring from broadcasting in 1979.
.
Russ tells the rest of the story in his own words.  In 1998, Russ was called upon to produce a segment for Channel 5's 50th anniversary program.  Unfortunately, the piece did not air, but Russ has given me the honor of publishing the original script (with minor updates as needed) on this website:
.
.
    "In the late '60s and early '70s, KXOL Radio became the springboard for a group of reporters known only by voice and name to make their introduction to television.  The station was number one for its music and news.  Reporters covered breaking stories from the scene with distinctive red mobile units.  Eventually, these radio voices would become Channel 5's new breed of television newscasters and reporters.  The exodus would turn out to be part of a historical format change in Channel 5's news programming.

.
.
"Bob Schieffer was a KXOL product also.  Bob Schieffer got me into television.  The others who followed us from KXOL were:  Roy Eaton (later the longtime publisher of the Wise County Messenger,) Bruce Neal (d. 10/19/1999,) Bill Hix (d. 2/25/2002,) Lowell "Jay" Duncan, Breck Harris (currently the FW Stock Show arena events announcer and retired spokesman for Lone Star Gas,) Ron Spain, and a fellow younger than all of us, who would rise higher than all of us...Doug Adams.  Doug became news director and eventually general manager of Channel 5, a position he served until 2000.
.
"Also in the late '60s, Channel 5's bosses sensed that a changing audience wanted something new in TV news.  Twenty years had passed since WBAP-TV had become the first television station in Texas in 1948.  Audiences were no longer in awe of TV.  Viewers were more selective in what they watched as the business grew more competitive.  Channel 5's ratings were slipping to stations in Dallas.  [Ed. note:  The friendly "Metroplex" moniker that merged the interests of Dallas and Fort Worth came about later, in 1972; previously, competition and animosity between the two cities was rampant on many levels.  As Channel 5 was often chastised for being exclusively a "Fort Worth" station, management urged reporters and anchors to alternate the station ID with "Dallas-Fort Worth" and "Fort Worth-Dallas."]
..
"In 1967, Channel 5 hired Bob Schieffer to anchor its nightly news.  Until then, the station built its late news show around a continuous newsreel called "The Texas News" (long narrated by Tom McDonald.)  The format came from the old movie theater newsreels.  However, in a major change, Schieffer appeared on camera AHEAD OF and AFTER the newsreel.  Channel 5's news presentation changed radically.  The newsreel, popular in the '50s and early '60s, gradually disappeared.  The station wanted personality in its newscasts and anchormen viewed as more credible because of their experience in field reporting.  This trend would dictate Channel 5's news format for 31 of the station's first 50 years. [Ed. note:  Channel 5 officially dropped the newsreel format in favor of live hosted newscasts on August 1, 1969.]
.

L to R:  Bob Schieffer and Russ Bloxom
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye
.
"A few weeks after his start, Schieffer urged me to join him.  KXOL was paying me $140 a week.  Channel 5's news director, James A. Byron, offered me $25 more to take the plunge into television.  All I had to do was move from west Fort Worth to east Fort Worth to a place called 'Broadcast Hill.'
.
"I was 27 when I made that first drive.  I felt as if I had hit the lotto years before its coming.  Wow...I was on television and people started recognizing me.  However, the real thrill was adding another dimension to my reporting skills...the picture.  My Channel 5 colleagues taught me how a picture, indeed, is worth a thousand words.  And, we reinforced at Channel 5 what Earle Fletcher had taught us at KXOL:  'When you report the news, first get it right...being first will take care of itself.'
.

A young Russ Bloxom waits for his cue at the anchor desk
Photo credit: Linda Kaye
.
"Channel 5 assigned me to do Schieffer's job on weekends.  As ex-radio reporters who only wore white dress shirts and ties at work, our debut on television required wearing colored dress shirts, something new in menswear, and necessary if you were on studio camera because white caused problems in the quality of the picture (in those days.)
..
"Eventually, I anchored the station's noon news weekdays and continued as a reporter primarily at the Tarrant County Courthouse.  Along the way, I learned a new medium and covered even more criminals and characters.  Politicians were somewhere in between.  A lady named "Sammie" was one of the characters.  She was telephone operator at the courthouse.  In her happy Texas twang, she always answered with what sounded like, "Tarrant County Whorehouse!"
.

L to R:  Jack Brown, Russ, Jerry Desmond, Lee Elsesser
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye
.
"A few years later, Schieffer moved to CBS in Washington.  I succeeded him on the 6PM newscast.  Channel 5's one and only Jack Brown was picked to solo the 10PM news until the arrival of two new professionals:  a young, eager Chip Moody in 1972, and a seasoned veteran, Ward Andrews, in 1969.
.

The news team of the '70s...L to R (both photos:)  Chip Moody, Ward Andrews, Russ.
Chip Moody said of Russ:  "He's a no-nonsense journalist...one of the pioneers of TV journalism."
Russ says of the trio:  "Despite different personalities and with Chip's wise respect of the two 'older guys,'
the threesome formed an 'on-camera' bond that attracted high ratings from an audience who recognized
genuine, experienced newscasters who could play with one another without heavy hand."
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye (both)
.
"I was fortunate to work with Ward and Chip the rest of my years at 5.  Along with Roy Eaton, who was first teamed with Ward at 10 PM, we played a role in another change in the station's history...the introduction of co-anchors.  (Roy Eaton later moved to 'Inside Area 5' at 5 PM until that half-hour was changed to a regular news format.)  And, between news stories, we indulged in what became known as 'chit chat', idle talk to make us seem even more natural.  While some thought it was silly, most viewers liked it and Channel 5's ratings soared as the 'Area 5 Texas News' audience grew larger.  Ward, Chip and I also grew to be corrected on the air by weatherman Harold Taft for misleading introductions.  Contrary to what many thought, it was all in fun and unplanned.  Harold would get the best of us nightly.  The audience loved it!  And, Channel 5's newscasts ranked supreme in the mid-1970s!
[Ed. note:  WBAP-TV changed call letters to KXAS-TV during this period, on May 16, 1974.]
.

1976 logo for Channel 5's newscasts
Photo credit:  D Magazine
.
"The Cullen Davis murder case, with estranged wife Priscilla as lead accuser, was my second biggest news story. [Ed. note:  One of the highest profile court cases ever in DFW, millionaire T. Cullen Davis was accused of killing his stepdaughter Andrea Welborn and his wife's lover Stan Farr in August, 1976; Davis was acquitted on November 17, 1977, after a lengthy, well-publicized trial and an earlier mistrial.]
.


Top:  Cullen Davis' girlfriend, Karen Masters, had her relationship details revealed before the media.
Bottom:  Priscilla Davis, Cullen's estranged wife, photographed in her Fort Worth home: (L) standing
in front of an eerie 1971 painting by Wayne Ingram featuring her accused husband in the foreground
and Priscilla behind; and (R) in a 'glove' seat overlooking the Fort Worth skyline.  Priscilla's
insistence of her husband's guilt was ignored by jurors.  She lived a content but destitute
existence after the trials, and died in February, 2001 at age 59.
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye
.
"We (Bill Hix, Linda Kaye and I) covered the mistrial here and the acquittal in Amarillo.  With cameras barred from the courtroom, Channel 5 used special still photographs of all parties in the case to report the trials.  Not one person, including Davis, the judges and lawyers, declined photographer Linda Kaye's invitation to sit for pictures in a relaxed setting.  As Linda clicked away, Davis seemed to joke as he raised his arms in mock surrender and blurted at her, 'I'm guilty!'  We never showed it, but Channel 5's possession of the photo drove Davis' PR people crazy.  While other stations groped to tell the trials visually, most viewers followed Channel 5's coverage with its exclusive, portrait-like photos of the newsmakers.
.

They were part of our lives in 1975...
L to R:  Doug Vair, Chip Moody, Harold Taft, Russ, Ward Andrews
Photo credit:  TV Guide
.
"The pinnacle of my broadcast career was week-long coverage of the Republican National Convention in Kansas City in 1976 with photographer Jimmy Darnell.  The age of videotape was about to emerge.  Channel 5 news was converting from 16mm film to tape, and the convention would be our last to shoot with film.  However, the networks were showing off their videocams for the first time.  Photographers still relied on basic tools in case of a glitch.  At one point, we eyed a screwdriver taped to a new and expensive mini-cam!  Also, coverage by satellite was still the networks' toy in '76.
.
"For all those reasons, Darnell and I had to fashion convention stories which would not be dated 24 hours later.  We shipped by air reels of the film for 'next day' developing, editing and airing on our evening newscasts.  The newsroom did not always agree with our choice of stories we sent back, including a tall, wannabe Abe Lincoln, but it was indicative of the characters assembled.
.
"Convention officials limited media people on the floor by a rotation system of 30-minute intervals.  We chose to let others ahead of us as we gambled on when our floor passes would serve us best.  Timing was everything as the roll-call of states decided Gerald Ford or Ronald Reagan for the party's presidential nomination.  Ford, and we, won.  We were on the convention floor at the most perfect time when voting gave the nomination to Ford.  Channel 5 viewers saw close-up the agony of defeat for staunch Reagan delegates in the Texas delegation.  Their painful loss, with tears captured by Darnell's sensitive photography, was still emotional when seen a day later.
.
"Soon after the convention, new news director Lee Elsesser picked me as co-anchor for Channel 5's new newscast at 5PM.  [Ed. note:  Premiering on September 19, 1977, Russ anchored with Ed Eubanks, Harold Taft and longtime KRLD and CBS sportscaster Frank Glieber. Elsesser replaced Russ Thornton as news director, who had been promoted to an administrative role at the station.]
.

Russ bids goodbye to departing co-anchor Ward Andrews on camera in September, 1977.
Ward resigned from the station in protest of a demotion and for station management's
perception that he was losing popularity with viewers.  He subsequently sued Channel 5's
owner, LIN Broadcasting, for age discrimination.  Although Ward lost the case, LIN was held
responsible for all attorney and litigation costs.  Letters and calls from dissatisfied viewers
fell on deaf ears, and Ward retired from broadcasting in the early 1980s.
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye
.
"In March, 1979, I left the station and broadcasting to go into private business.  A few months earlier, on September 28, 1978, we had aired pictures of the birth of our only child in the operating room, a rarity 20 years ago.  Some viewers tell me to this day they remember that.  [Ed. note:  Russ' daughter Stacy Bloxom graduated from Austin College in 2000, and teaches in the Arlington (TX) school district.]
.

Russ and former wife Sanda celebrate the birth of daughter Stacy Bloxom
on September 28, 1978.  This and other still photos of the event were shown
on the KXAS newscasts that evening.
Photo credit:  Linda Kaye

"I appeared at exactly 6PM to the second Monday through Friday for 11 of my 13 years at Channel 5.  It was a long run for television.  I remain grateful for the experience.  And, I forever will be proud of the accomplishments my colleagues and I achieved as TV journalists.
.
"If you remember us as a Channel 5 viewer in the '70s, we appreciate your loyalty then and your remembrances today.  For my time at 5, it was a hell of a ride.  Cherish the moments and thank you for sharing the saddle."

NOTE:  To read a sobering analysis of local news, and more specifics about Russ and
other anchors leaving Channel 5, see D Magazine's May, 1979, article, "Sex at 6 & 10," HERE.
.



Today, Russ Bloxom lives in Arlington, TX and recently retired as the Marketing Director for Speed Fab-Crete in nearby Kennedale, a successful construction company his late brother, former TCU football star and entrepreneur Dave Bloxom, started in 1950.

Russ was part of the business world in his Channel 5 days as well; he and former wife Sanda owned an antique and gift shop known as "Sanda and Russ' Pastime" at 101 E Church St in the Weatherford, TX, town square beginning in 1972.  In the 1980s, the couple owned a travel agency that officed out of Two Tandy Center in downtown Fort Worth.  Sanda was a veteran of local TV as well; as Sanda McQuerry, she co-hosted the morning talk show "Reveille" on KTVT-Channel 11 with future 'Icky Twerp' Bill Camfield (d. 9/30/1991) in the early 1960s.  Sanda and Russ were married from 1964-1988.


Webmaster Mike Shannon meets Russ Bloxom at the KFJZ Radio Reunion, January 2001
Photo credit:  Mike Shannon Collection
.


CLICK HERE FOR "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?"
Find out what your favorite Channel 5 and KXOL personalities are doing today!
And read tributes to some of TV and radio's best:  Harold Taft, Bill Hix, Chip Moody, and more

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO GALLERY!
Over 60 classic photos included!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE

This entire website and its contents are copyright 1984-2016 Mike Shannon. Images are copyright of their respective owners, including Linda Kaye, Russ Bloxom, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, KXAS-TV, WBAP-TV, KXOL-AM, The (late) Garland Daily News, CNBC, WFAA-TV, CBS, TV Guide, The (late) Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Business Journal, the University of Texas Special Collections division, and Mike Shannon.  If you feel your copyright is being infringed upon by its appearance in this website, please email me and it will be removed or credited properly.  I am not responsible for errors, omissions, incomplete information, misrepresentations or dead links.  Information was gleaned from newspapers, broadcasting yearbooks, magazines, personal recollection, recollections of others and the like.  Copying of any or all information or images for use on other websites, in print or for other purposes, is prohibited without permission.  Links are provided for the user's convenience; I claim no responsibility for the contents, accuracy or relevance of other sites that may be linked to from this site.  This entire website is considered a not-for-profit "fan site," to be enjoyed for entertainment and informational purposes only. Usage of this site and/or any sites, sub-sites or pages or images contained within, however accessed, constitutes your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.  If you do not agree to these Terms and Conditions, click here and you will be taken elsewhere.  Proceeds from advertising & duplication services are directly used for site maintenance, hosting fees and research costs.