Television viewers in Denver, Colorado are lucky to have one of the best investigative reporters in the business working for KMGH, Channel 7. John Ferrugia is one of the more high-profile Channel 13 alumni, having been a White House Correspondent for CBS News, and principle anchor for CBS' 'West 57th' news magazine. John has kindly shared some of his memories of his first broadcast experience: working with Ray Blush and Jule McGee on Project 13.
I interviewed for a reporter position at WTVT when I was just out of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. My resume included a tour of duty with American Forces Radio and TV in Sicily as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve.
I worked with Jule McGee and Ray Blush in 1975-76 as a reporter/photographer on Project 13. I learned a great deal from Jule, who was tough as nails but had a heart of gold. He is to this day one of the most dedicated 'photogs' I ever worked with. I can remember a Project 13 shoot on how hydrilla, considered the most problematic aquatic plant in the United States, was clogging the rivers of Florida. Jule waited on a bridge for almost an hour at sunset to film an airboat coming down the Hillsborough River spraying the chemicals to eradicate the underwater weed. It was a beautiful shot with perfect light...the perfect closing shot for the half-hour program. When we got back to WTVT the following day and developed the hundreds of feet of film, it was all great...except for that beautiful closing shot. A problem in the processing of the film left 'comets' (developer) on the celluloid... making it unusable. The story was to air in two days, so while I began the editing Jule saddled up and drove almost two hours to get back to that bridge before sunset. The same airboat came down the river at dusk and Jule re-shot it...then drove back to the station and stayed late into the night to develop it. Two days later it was the closing shot for the story.
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