Borngesser may give us a new and needed vent

December 30, 1997

Borngesser may give us a new and needed vent

I don't know how you spent your holiday, but if you're like me you've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out if there's going to be life after Bob Borngesser.

This is like trying to imagine Springfield without Kent Brockman.

Borngesser, the Channel 25 news anchor, is giving up his chair for the first time since the days when the cathode ray tube was invented. I have to admit it took a while to warm to a newsman whose name contained the word "gesser."

There was always something comforting, like a warm quilt, about his voice and presence. If it was 6 and he was on the air, you knew you were home.


Stability, too. You just knew that if the studio burned down around him he might raise an eyebrow and then again he might not.

This is going to be a blow for the viewers, not to mention the downtown Hagerstown lunch trade.

Of course there's always a friendly rivalry among media, which usually is fostered by standing around in freezing weather with a press conference unable to commence "because the tee vee hasn't gotten here yet."

People always want to wait for the tee vee because given a choice between a lengthy, detailed story with keen analysis and thoughtful balance and insight, or 15 seconds in front of a camera - well, the pencil press never wins that battle.

We would extract our revenge in small ways, though. Small, petty ways.

Once in Annapolis there was a high-ranking meeting among the governor and the state's top lawmakers of tremendous, tremendous significance that today I have not one shred of recollection as to its contents.

But I do remember the old State House elevator, a shiny, opulent brass affair that gained altitude at the rate of roughly 10 linear feet every hour or so.

To get from the governor's mansion to the press-conference room in the State House required - didn't require really, if you were in a hurry it outright forbade it - use of this antiquity, which was like being raised in a steam shovel, but not as quiet.

I swear, every television camera in the state was on the second floor, waiting for the elevator to disgorge its important occupants. Every time the camera operators heard the old gearworks and pulleys wheeze to life they'd fire their lights and jostle for position to get the precious shot and when the doors would open, out would step - the reporter for the Washington Post, or the Montgomery Journal, or me. We'd cover our faces with our jackets and cry "no pictures."

We'd scoot down the stairs and do it over again, maybe a half dozen times to see if they'd ever catch on. They never did. Each time the doors opened there they'd be, lights ablaze. We even considered sending the old cat that used to hang around the State House basement, but by then much of the joy had evaporated from the experiment.

This story is relevant, mostly, for demonstrating what Bob Borngesser is not.

He was never the pushy shovy in-your-face journalist. His air presence has always been very calm and detached and dignified. You never knew what he thought about a particular story, save perchance for a telltale twinkle in his eye.

Perhaps that's going to change a bit. He said that he's going to do commentary, and after all this time as a newsman he's ready to vent.

As a chief ventor myself I welcome the company. Washington County in particular could use some more vents.

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