10 QUESTIONS FOR DAVE WARD

Ken Hoffman sits down with Houston legend Dave Ward ahead of his new book

Dave Ward reveals his toughest moments and the experiences that shaped his 50-year career. Photo courtesy of Dave Ward

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

On May 6, his 80th birthday, legendary anchorman Dave Ward will publish his autobiography, Good Evening, Friends: A Broadcaster Shares His Life, packed with eyewitness stories about the U.S. space program, the Vietnam and Middle East wars, multiple presidential campaigns, one presidential assassination, and the rise to world prominence of his beloved hometown, Houston.

Ward began his television career at Channel 13 in 1966. More than 50 years later, Ward is recognized as a Houston treasure — a pure newscaster who literally has seen and reported it all. While the book awaits finishing touches, I caught up with Ward at Gow Media headquarters, where he is recording the audio book version of Good Evening, Friends.

CultureMap: A couple of years ago, I was watching the news, and you introduced yourself as "David" Ward. What the heck was that about?

Dave Ward:
That didn't last long, did it? I got to thinking, Barack Obama was called Barry in his youth, but used his real full name when he was president. My real name is David. I thought, if the president uses his real first name, I should, too. So I went on the air and said, 'Good evening, friends, I'm David Ward.'My co-anchor Shara Fryer asked me during a break, 'What's with "David?" Three days later, the general manager told me, 'We have you under contract as "Dave" Ward. We don't want to hear "David' anymore. So I went back to being Dave Ward. Then you wrote an article with the headline, 'David Ward, we hardly knew ye.' I'll never forget that one.

CM: Television news can be treacherous for career longevity. Anchors, reporters, weather forecasters come and go like the wind. I'll bet you've worked with 200 different on-air people at Channel 13 during your career. How did you manage to survive in one market, at one station, for half a century?

DW:
I worked very hard at getting the facts right, the information right. I have to tell you the truth, one big reason I was able to stay so long was Marvin Zindler. It was my idea for the station to hire Marvin and put him on the air as the first consumer reporter anywhere in the U.S. Marvin really hit the ground running.

That put us into ratings territory during the '70s that no one ever had before and may never again. Marvin was unique. He could come on the air and say, 'It's hell to be poor!" and you'd swear he knew what it was like to be poor. The fact is, he came from one of the wealthiest families in Houston. His father owned all of the Zindler clothing stores and probably half of Bellaire at one time.

CM: Writing an autobiography can be a difficult, cathartic experience. What did you learn about yourself?

DW:
I learned that I've been far from perfect in my personal life. I'm on my third marriage now. The lady I'm married to now is the love of my life. I've dedicated this book to her, to my wife Laura. I had to write in there about my heart attack, my hernia surgery, my heart surgery — just a whole bunch of stuff that I've never talked about on television.

CM: What was the most difficult thing to write about?

DW: That DWI was the toughest. I had to admit that I drove intoxicated. Here's what happened. I had lunch with Percy Foreman, the famous criminal attorney at the Rice Hotel. I mentioned that I had to go to the driver's license place to get another license, I had lost it or something. He said, 'You don't need a driver's license.' Huh? He said if you have a driver's license and you get arrested for DWI, they suspend your license. And if you get arrested for driving on a suspended license, you go straight to jail. But if you don't have a driver's license, they can't suspend it. Driver's licenses are just a way for the state to get money from you and keep track of you.' I figured that Percy Foreman knows what he's talking about. So I drove without a license for several years.

So one night — it was after midnight — I was driving to a friend's house from Kay's Lounge, which was on Bissonnet, very close to the TV station. There was a big pot hole on the left side of the street, and I veered right to avoid it. Then I veered left to avoid another pot hole. Well, the police lights came on behind me. It was a police woman and she said, 'Let me see your driver's license, please.' I told her that I didn't have a license. She called a supervisor, who made me blow into a Breathalyzer and I went to jail.

A lawyer bailed me at around 5 am. When I got to work the next day, the general manager called me into his office and said, 'Ward, you blew .34. You weren't drunk, you were comatose.' I had to go on the air and apologize during the 5 o'clock, the 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock news. After the 10 o'clock, Shara Fryer reached over and patted my hand and said, 'That's enough.' I never should have listened to Percy Foreman. I do have a driver's license now.

CM: Who is your broadcast news hero?

DW:
My real hero early on was Walter Cronkite. I thought he was the epitome of what a television anchor should be. He's the one who coined the term 'anchor.' It doesn't mean that you're the big honcho, it means that once you are assigned to that chair, you are anchored to it. Watching him on the air, you would have thought he was a conservative, a little to the right. In real life, he was a flaming liberal. I really admired him.

CM: You're famous for your disdain of technology. I remember asking for your email address, and you laughed at me. How did you write this book … on a Royal typewriter?

DW:
I wrote down things in a notebook, events I remembered from my early years. Jim McGrath got with me, and I bought a tape recorder. I just told stories about my life into that tape recorder, and then Jim talked to people and filled out the book. We spent a year and a half on this book. It's 30 chapters. The book starts with my heart attack and thoughts about my career coming to an end. After that, it goes in chronological order.

CM: Did you ever consider moving to another city, another TV market?

DW:
Never. I grew up in Huntsville, just north of here. Houston is my home. Since I moved here in 1962. I had no desire to go anywhere else, and I did have some offers from other markets. I wasn't interested. I had enough to do here.

CM: What are the best and worst things about Houston?

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about Dave Ward's thoughts on Houston.

Photo courtesy of Fitness in the Loop

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

One Saturday morning, I was out driving around and saw what looked like a yoga class being held at a local, popular bar. I thought, "that is so cool! I'm sure the good people of Houston would love to know where to get their workout on and their drink on at the same time." So, this article was born. I went on the hunt to make a fully comprehensive list of the breweries, bars, and restaurants where you can get a workout. Here goes.

Yoga and brunch at Clutch

​Jovan Abernathy 

Yoga at Clutch

Saturday@ 11am

5334 Washington Ave. Houston, Tx 77007

During the week, Clutch is where 20 somethings and 30 somethings go to enjoy a burger. But come Saturday morning, join Clutch and Fitness In The Loop for an hour long yoga class that is always free. Release the tension of the week and finish with $5 mimosa specials. Enjoy light to heavy fair like avocado toast, greek yogurt, or chicken and waffles.

Watermelon cooler, micheladas, of course, yoga​

Courtesy of Fitness in the Loop

Yoga at Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden

Sundays@ 11am

1920 Houston Ave. Houston, Tx 77007

If you find yourself in the artsy First Ward on Sundays, you can catch yoga with the other hipsters at Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden. Enjoy an hour class of yoga that is always free. Spring Street Beer and Wine Garden has its own food truck waiting to serve you burgers, flatbreads, and tacos after the class. Most people opt for a Watermelon Cooler or a $4 Michelada to get refreshed.

Instagram: @FitnessInTheLoop

​Run, bike, and cross-train at Karbach Brewing 

​Courtesy of Karbach Athletics

Cross-train at Karbach Brewery

Wednesdays @ 7pm

2032 Karbach St. Houston, Tx 77092

We all know Karbach Brewing for Houston beer favorites like Weekend Warrior and Love Street Kolsch. If you are a Karbach fan, you also know that it is a weekend destination with so many activities to offer that you cannot fit them in one weekend. Forget that Karbach has a full restaurant with pub favorites like fish and chips and beer can chicken. Not everyone knows that Karbach has its own athletic department complete with yoga, a running club, and a cross training brew camp in the Biergarten. You can work off those beer calories in the cross training Karbach Brew Camp. $10 gets you in. Just bring a mat and wear comfortable workout clothes. Be ready to sweat and earn that free Weekend Warrior at the end!

Bike Ride from Eureka Heights

Every Third Friday

941 W 18th St. Houston, Tx 77008

You may pass Eureka Heights on your Sunday Funday on 18th st on the way to Mckintyre's. This brewery is known for its fun, approachable session beers. They are responsible for Buckle Bunny Cream Ale and other fun, low alcohol beers like Space Train IPA. Every third Friday, you can come to Eureka Heights and enjoy a 10 - 15 mile bike ride/bar crawl that starts and ends at Eureka Heights. Enjoy $2 off beers and food from food trucks like Curbside Sliders and Riceology.

Run by the Bayou with Sigma Brewing ​

Courtesy of David Lynn

Sigma Brewery Run

Thursday @ 7pm till….

3118 Harrisburg Blvd. Houston, Tx 77003

Feel like exploring the East End? Take a run with Sigma Brewery Running Club. Sigma Brewery is known for their science fiction themed beers like Terminator 2's 08/29/97 IPA. Their running club meets on Thursdays and changes their route often. One week, run around the bayou and the next from stadium to stadium. End back at the brewery for the famous sessionable running beer XPA and play some old school Super Mario Brothers at your own station.

Walk to Harrisburg Art Museum from True Anomaly Brewing with Houston Tourism Gym​

Jovan Abernathy ​

5 Mile Walk from True Anomaly Brewing

Sundays @ 5:30pm

2012 Dallas St. Houston, Tx 77003

Wanna try something low impact and still get a workout. Houston Tourism Gymmeets at the new brewery in Eado, True Anamoly Brewing for a 5 milewalk through Eado. Visit 3 mural posing spots and 2 breweries. Starts at True Anamoly and ends at Rodeo Goat for burgers. Always Pay What You Can! Reserve your spot HERE!

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