Famous people from Connecticut

Gayle King at WFSB: The Hartford Years

My former co-anchor Gayle King is enjoying life on “CBS This Morning,” with ratings up since she joined the show in late 2012.   Even though it has been 15 years or so since Gayle left the big 3,  she remains in the hearts of  many of us here, and definitely in the hearts of viewers across our state.    She clearly qualifies as a Connecticut television icon, although Gayle winced when I called her that once.

In fact, after Gayle left to work as editor-at-large at O Magazine, Channel 3 viewers missed her so much I was sent to Manhattan to interview her.   Sitting in her office across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, Gayle told me Hartford will always be a part of her.

“Without sounding sappy, I became a woman, I grew up at Channel 3.  I fell in love at Channel 3, I got married at Channel 3, I had children at Channel 3, and I got divorced at Channel 3.”

Gayle started at Channel 3 in the fall of 1981, freshly hired from Kansas City. Sadly, many years ago, someone who no longer works at WFSB,  ordered the disposal of dozens, perhaps scores,  of old videotapes.  As a result of their short-sighted housecleaning,  Gayle’s first story here at WFSB no longer exists in our archives,  along with many of her reports from 1981 to 1985, everything from festivals, to shootings, to fires, the standard fare for newbies.     Thankfully, a few reports from that era did survive.  They are in an old 3/4″ tape format that must be played in a rickety old relic of a machine.   The quality is grainy, at best.

This the oldest image I’ve been able to find of Gayle’s tenure at WFSB.   It is from a weekend edition of Eyewitness News taken in our studio in the since demolished Broadcast House sometime in late 1981.

This next image here is from the summer of ’82, when Gayle interviewed a boy who found a $10,000 lottery ticket in the trash.    I’m not sure if she was moonlighting as a flight attendant for Air Lingus, or as a spokesperson for National Car Rental.

Gayle’s new boss is Chris Licht, a native of Newtown, the former executive producer of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. Under his watch, CBS This Morning has focused on politics.

Gayle actually did some political reporting during her time here.   According to the archives, Gayle was out in the field on election night in 1981 and 1982, and interviewed Senators Weicker, Lieberman and Dodd over the years, along with mayors and members of congress.  In 1988, she anchored our coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

As Democrats chose Michael Dukakis to be their nominee, Gayle showed off her sneakers she wore to climb the stairs of the Omni, to avoid tripping in her trademark heels.

To me though, and I’m hardly a fashion expert, it seems that scarf might have been a bit of a tripping hazard.

I know many people see Gayle as Oprah’s best friend, but  during our nearly five years of sharing the anchor desk, and sitting at the same pod in the newsroom, I saw her in a much different role.   First, she’s a real news junkie.   After Gayle left for O Magazine, she called me during the Michael Skakel trial looking for information and it wasn’t unusual to get an e-mail from her seeking information about something in the news.  She told me it was during the big stories like that, and 9/11, when she really missed the news biz and she is thrilled to be back in it at CBS.

Gayle  also has a great sense of humor, serves her well on the Early Show.    I’ll never forget having to read a report of a man who was suing a stripper, because she hurt his neck with her breasts during his bachelor party.  Apparently, the whiplash was so bad, he was going to miss his nuptials.  Gayle started to laugh so hard, I could not finish reading the story.    There are countless other television moments  like that.


The most important thing I can say about Gayle is that she is a great mother.   She brought her daughter and son to school before she started her work day, and like any suburban mom, shuttled them back and forth to school events and practices.   I remember a few times she brought Kirby and William to work, and they sat at a couple of desks and did their homework with help from mom if they needed it.     Another time she told me how William no longer wanted to sit in the back seat of the car, as was required by Connecticut law for someone his age.    Gayle explained he would be sitting there until he turned 11, or whatever the legal age was for a child to sit in the front seat.

Gayle was awesome to work with and there was never any tension on the set, and she made me feel right at home when I was named as her co-anchor.    She instantly called me her “television husband,”   and gave me the nickname “Denzel.”  In a  profile of our newscast in the Journal Inquirer, Gayle talked about her philosophy (which I share) that co-anchors should be partners.

              “Some teams quibble about who gets to lead the newscast and who gets to read the most stories,” King said.   “I don’t keep track and I don’t care.”       

Gayle is one of the nicest people in the biz and we wish her a Happy 60th!          

36 replies »

  1. Gayle……you are the best in reporting the news….honesty, integrity, and humor. The best part of my day was watching the news with you and Dennis, back in the day at WFSB. I have missed you since you left CT,and will look forward to seeing you on CBS. Was asked–at court… (by you know who)……about my pinky ring, and the meaning of the ring….I was soooo proud to say that it was a very special gift from my 87 year old mom…….. the world needs more good deeds, and more loving gestures……..best of luck in your new endeavor!!!!!!!


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  3. Saw part of the show and love it! Gayle is so genuine and sweet. I am sure the show will do well. And I followed Erica since her Anderson Cooper spots . They both have calming voices as well and not the hight chatty ones so many stations have with female reporters!


  4. Gayle King and Dennis House our very own superstars of jounalism!! Congrats to you and all the years of success.


  5. Ever since Gayle has put on weight she comes across as being angry. Her interactions with her co-anchor “demands” that she is the “boss”. Her ego is writing checks that her professionalism can not cash.


    • King IS a “bossy” person. Her personality came out just the other day when her co-anchor mentioned that she was going to Britian for an event and King struck back “it is never me that gets those assignments”. My comment to her would have been “….umm, I wonder why.” She is the token on the show, and will not be there long. She needs her 1 or 2 times a year special, where we can change the station.


      • Wow….a token what? I can agree to disagree. I love the combination of all three together.


      • Ms King does seem bossy. I guess she has the right to feel that way after being OWs bestie. But whatever. I used to enjoy CTM, but Ms King has come out being too political and too racist, as evidenced by Hour 2 of her program. And it is indeed her program. Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil are the actual tokens; sitting there like a couple of gonad free dolts. The show used to be great and wasn’t always at the bottom of the network ratings charts, as it is now. Then there were some higher management changes within the news division and as things digressed, and people left, and “contributors” fell by the wayside, so did their viewers. I am a CBS baby from wayyy back. It was the only station my parents’ tv antenna could reach. Thankfully, nowadays, tv stations (and networks) can be changed and deleted with a button.


  6. A token loud mouth. News show has one, both local or national. The one person that does not get along with the others, and makes those snippy side comments.


  7. Gayle King I have wanted to get to talk to you for a long time and maybe some time we will meet. My son played basketball with your kids Steve Curtiss and you worked with My giirl friend Candy Buswell so it seems like you have been a friend to me for a long time . Gayle you can email me at irishmarysings@yahoo.com
    Please have a great day and you look great welcome back.


  8. Wow… loved your article Dennis. Sure do miss Gayle King doing the news in Hartford but happy for her success on the morning show. Thanks for sharing a trip down memory lane. Denise we love you too!


  9. Will never forget the broadcast when Gerry Brooks was commenting that she was expecting again a few weeks after coming back from maternity leave… Her laughter was contagious…what a great sense of humor!


  10. Happy Birthday Gayle…I seen you in a grocery store years ago and you were so pleasant and nice!


  11. Happy birthday Gayle. Your one of the reasons why I watch CBS this morning. We miss you here in Connecticut . Enjoy your day & stay well.


  12. It’s fun to see how you have advanced in your industry. My son Doug, sold you your treadmill here in Ct. I visited and enjoyed your afternno. Show. Dorothy


  13. Happy Birthday young lady. Love you Gayle. Now Monday you go up to Charley Rose and give him a big wet kiss for me. Hahaha. He too is awesome. Love his laugh.


  14. Gayle, although I no longer live in CT, you are one of the people who stand out in my treasured memories of growing up there. Happy Birthday!


  15. I always loved Gayle and will never forget going to a taping of her talk show! I also remember herself-deprecating sense of humor. When she was leaving, the show played some funny moments and she said, “We’ll be black. No, I’ll be black but we’ll be back!” I miss her but am glad to see her in the morning!


    • She’s not so self-deprecating anymore. By any stretch of the imagination. Just tune in to the second hour of CTM if you can. 8:00 am-9:00 am ET.


  16. Gayle was always a welcome addition to the newscast and she will long be remembered in CT for her excellent reporting! Being Oprah’s buddy is very special too!


  17. I met you back in 1983. You used to have your car serviced at the dealership that I worked for. I was a shuttle driver at the time. You we very gracious to me and the other passengers in my car. It was a real pleasure meeting and chatting with you.


  18. Gale you are the best. I watched you on WFSB the whole time you were on, then whatever station you were on, if we got it, we watched it. You are such a down to earth person and always have such a great smile no matter what. Love you for that. Happy Birthday and many more. I love watching you in the morning with Charlie.r


  19. Gayle is the Best! I’m so glad she’s on CBS morning news these days, because Western Mass no longer gets the WFSB CBS news broadcast, but Gayle was much loved in MA too, and became very dear to people here long before we’d known who Oprah was! We’d sincerely missed her smart, sunny, funny, kind, honest, decent, and very genuine self when she’d departed WFSB, and had been delighted when she’d returned to CBS at the national level. Gayle is the reason I watch and also dvr CBS Morning. Her abundance of personal integrity and utter lack of pretension, petty sarcasm, and meanness make her rather unique in the rough and tumble of national news reporting and the 24/7 news cycle of today, and so one of the most trusted figures in news reporting ever, also. Norah and John are good, also, as had been Charlie early on before he’d become quite such an ornery, transparent, and testy celebrity and political-celebrity sycophant, but CBS ought to have cut him loose even before his scandals had surfaced, because he’d ceased to be an actual credit to CBS, anyway. Dickerson is a great improvement on Charlie, but Gayle is the reason I watch CBS!

    Still hoping CBS will bring Dennis House, Gerry Brooks, Janet Peckenpaugh, and other WFSB people to national programming too! We’d lost track of WFSB folks once it ceased to be broadcast as the MA CBS affiliate, but still fondly recall what a great news team WFSB always had and have missed those broadcasts and the people who had anchored and reported on news for WFSB, too. It is now 2018, but you have not been forgotten in MA.


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