RICHMOND, Va. — If you grew up in Richmond, and are of a certain age, his velvet pipes may bring you back.
Doug Riddell served as WTVR’s station announcer and fill-in weatherman from 1968 to 1972.
“My voice was on the station break for years and years,” Doug Riddell said. “This was just amazing. I just felt like I was part of something so big and so exciting.”
It was a childhood dream come true. When he was just 10 years old, Doug fashioned his own WTVR camera out of cardboard.
“I wanted to be a part of this family so bad,” he explained.
The Richmond native started his broadcasting career at WTVR as a teenager.
He earned $1.75 an hour.
“When you’re 18 years old, and on the air, on the television and radio you hear your voice on the air, that just wipes out the deficit,” Riddell said.
Doug Riddell is an unofficial historian of WTVR.
“You only had five hours of television a day, but that changed very quickly,” he said about the time when he started his career.
Riddell collects historic images and preserves memorabilia.
“When we would go out representing the station, making a personal appearance, this was my gold blazer,” he said holding his 50-year-old artifact.
As WTVR celebrates three-quarters of a century on-air, Doug Riddell serves as a bridge to yesteryear.
“I was about 20 years old in this picture,” he said looking at a photo of himself. “I wish I had that hair. I would settle for the sideburns.”
The 73-year-old knew the WTVR pioneers from the station’s founder Wilbur Havens to the first anchor John Shand.
“John got out there and ran the camera. John threw himself into whatever he was doing,” Riddell said.
Riddell recently returned to tour the WTVR studios. A stroll dripping with nostalgia.
“I haven’t been back here in 50 years,” Riddell said. “I don’t think there is anyone who has ever worked here who doesn’t leave a part of themselves here.”
The walls may not talk, but Doug Riddell certainly can. And he did, as fond memories flooded back.
It has been a half-century since he bid WTVR farewell, but his time at WTVR remains a career highlight.
“This was the only television station I knew anything about and I loved it,” Riddell said.
When asked if he would like to take his old seat behind the mic.
“This is home,” Riddell replied.
The retired announcer didn’t hesitate.
“So I have been a very lucky person. In my time, I feel like I have fulfilled all kinds of dreams I just wish everybody else the good fortune I’ve had especially working here,” Riddell said.
For Doug Riddell, this moment is like riding a bike down Memory Lane.
“Thus concludes another broadcast day at WTVR-TV, The South’s First Television Station.”
Doug spent a total of 10 years in broadcasting. After unplugging, Doug rode the tracks in his other career as a train engineer.
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