A forty year career in broadcasting produced some memorable people and stories for Deal. The Cuban missile crisis in October, 1962, sticks out in Archs mind as one of the most sensitive and challenging news stories he had to cover while at Tampas NBC affiliate.
I had applied to go to Guantanamo Bay to cover the missile crisis and I was the very first newsman outside of any of the networks to be allowed inside Cuba, he said. At first, they werent going to let me go at all but I reminded them they had made me a promise because I had applied early, immediately after President Kennedy announced the presence of Russian missiles in Cuba.
As a result, Deal scooped the Tampa competition by being the only local reporter to film the actual removal of offensive weapons from the island 90 miles south of Florida. WTVT had to get it's film from CBS.
Deal's brief stint in Cuba spared him one unseasonably cold day in Tampa when temperatures plummeted to 17.5 degrees Fahrenheit, causing major damage to agricultural interests and killing all the giant shade-providing Australian Pines along the Courtney Campbell Causeway.
One event that stands out in the career of any newsman who worked in Tampa media on November of 1963 was the day-long visit of President John F. Kennedy. Arch says that day did not require a great deal of logistical planningjust making sure that close to a dozen staffers were planted in the right places, got their film shot, and got back to the station in time to ease production of the evening news.
Photo: Tony Zappone
President John F. Kennedy with Tampa's Mayor Nick Nuccio
Everybody looked forward to his visit, Arch recalls. It was the first time an American president had ever come to Tampa for such an extended period of time and with so many varied appearances on his schedule.
I covered his arrival at MacDill Air Force Base, getting to the base Officers Club about 15 minutes before him. At that time, there was hardly anybody outside waiting for him. He was driven up, got out of his limo, and said to me, Hi, nice day. At first, I was in awe of being in the presence of this legendary President but he quickly put me at ease and we continued our brief talk before his handlers moved him on. I found he was just a great guy who had a much better job that I did.
I was in the right place at the right time, basically. I had my chat, got my film and headed directly back to the station where we started coordinating all our other field people to put the 6 oclock news show togetherthat night a bit more complicated to do than usual.
His assassination four days later was devastating. I was at home getting ready for work when I got a call from the station that he had been shot. I was paralyzed by the news, it really threw me. Youre never ready for something like that. Suddenly there was an urgency to get to the station so I threw myself together and took off.
We prepared to put a whole local show for the evening of November 22, 1963 but it never aired. In its place was NBC continuous coverage of the assassination which, to me at the time, was pretty pathetic and slow moving in gathering facts. But the pace picked up once things shifted from Dallas to Washington. Id have to say the coverage of all three networks, even the distant-third and poorly staffed ABC, rose to new heights during that time.
While at Channel 8, Arch encountered another man with a razor-sharp memory similar to that of his old WTVT boss Crawford Rice. The man was Walter Cronkite. I was at Cape Canaveral for one of the Apollo space launches and ready to do a talk up on camera, Arch tells. I found a nice quiet place to do my one-camera stand up and started doing my thing when I began hearing zip, zip behind me. I looked back and saw somebody with a motorized camera, suddenly realizing it was Walter Cronkite. He apologized for interrupting me, saying he was just taking some pictures for his grandchildren.
Two years later, Deal was in New York City visiting former Channel 8 meteorologist Gordon Barnes, then at WCBS, who took him for a tour of the West 57th Street Broadcast Center. When they arrived on the third floor, Barnes decided to take Deal in to meet Cronkite. They approached Americas top newsman in his office but before Barnes got out a single word, Cronkite said, Oh, Arch Deal, I remember I interrupted your work at Cape Canaveral a few years agoI was so sorry about that.