By Bernie Schmitt
Tony Cloyd enjoys covering local news so much that he isn’t sure what he would do if he wasn’t working.
“I’ve thought about retirement a little,” he said. “But I don’t know what I would do with myself.”
This summer Cloyd will celebrate 40 years in broadcast news, both television and radio, at Vincennes University. His is a familiar face on VU’s public broadcast television station WVUT, and a familiar voice on VU’s FM radio stations WVUB and WFML.
He enjoys bicycling and traveling, but those are mostly vacation-type pursuits. His niche, though, is telling his viewers and listeners the news of Vincennes and Knox County.
“I have never been bored covering news,” Cloyd said. “Every day is different. Knox County is a rural community, but it generates a lot of news, both good and bad.”
He was introduced to broadcasting at Lafayette Jefferson High School, which had radio and television broadcast capability. Former broadcaster Bill Fraser was his teacher.
“The radio station was JEFF 91, like our Blazer 91,” Cloyd said. “We played adult contemporary music and students were assigned different shifts, just like a regular radio station. We had no ads then. Our television station also did the school announcements.”
His parents wanted him to go to college, but they also wanted him to get a taste of the working world. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to study, so he decided to go to work.
“My father was a printer by trade,” Cloyd said. “I had knowledge of printing and got a fulltime job doing printing work for Purdue. While there, I met Johnny DeCamp, who was then voice of Purdue football and basketball on WBAA. He’s the one who told me about the VU broadcasting program.”
After a year, Cloyd made his way to Vincennes, where he studied his chosen profession. He had no prospects upon graduation, so he went back home and worked in a farm implement company at Linden. One day he got a call about a broadcast news job at VU.
“There were some personnel changes and they needed someone to cover news and do an early morning newscast,” he said.
Return to newscasting
Recently, after years of doing a variety of jobs in news at VU broadcasting, Cloyd is back, doing the morning newscasts once again. He’s come full circle.
“The morning drive for radio is important,” he said.
He’s been a television lab assistant, he’s covered all kinds of meetings and events, he’s worked weekends, been the host of WVUT television shows, namely “22 Magazine,” and other things. His hard work led to promotion of news director, where for seven years he was “hands-on,” doing a lot of things, including some teaching.
“I had a good mentor in Mark Lange,” Cloyd said, about his reporting and broadcasting career. “Jim Miller and Bill Menke (former reporters) at the (Vincennes) Sun-Commercial were very helpful to me, too. They filled me in on who to talk to around town, what was going on. I could always call Jim Miller, and later, Ed Sebring. Those guys were great.”
Changes in radio
Lots of things have changed in 40 years. Morning newscasts are recorded, now, not live like they used to be. When Cloyd was a student in the 1970s, the broadcast department went from using 16mm film to videotape. Now, everything is digital, with video recorded onto a tiny chip. Cameras are much lighter, too.
“We used to have these big — what we called ‘quad’ tapes,” he said. “You then had to rewind them and set by hand the starting spot.”
Cloyd says the focus of the VU broadcasting program is designed to give students experience in all aspects of radio and television production, whether it’s on-air or behind the scenes.
“They may not get the job they want right after college,” he said. “But if they have the whole spectrum of what is done, they can decide what they want to do and go after it.”
As far as his work in covering the news, Cloyd says he tries to do his best each day, but sometimes reporters are misled and sometimes they get facts wrong.
“I’ve apologized when I’ve been wrong,” he said. “I think one is more respected if you do that. We have to learn from our mistakes, and I’ve made some. I still make some.”
He recalls covering negotiations between the local school teachers’ union and school corporation, lengthy negotiations that lasted until 4 a.m.
“I was there for the duration,” he said. “Then I went in to do the 6 a.m. newscast.”
Another time he had to cover Knox County Park Board meetings when some wanted to build a lake just north of town, but farmers were adamantly against it. There were some long, contentious meetings then, he said.
He recalls expansion on Sixth Street in the 1980s and Hart Street expansion in the 1990s. He said now is a good time for Vincennes, with new economic development possibilities, growth downtown, and new things happening all the time.
“Growth is slow at times,” he said. “But there is a lot going on right now, and it’s an exciting time.”
When he’s not covering the news, or bicycling, Cloyd enjoys blues music, so when he’s got the time, he attends blues music festivals in the area, usually going to the W.C. Handy Festival in Henderson, Kentucky.
But he’s quite content to be covering city council meetings, and reporting the news from his community. Retirement isn’t coming anytime soon.
“I’m worried I might miss the action,” he said.