Humble Beginnings

March 30, 2005 8:15 p.m.

My first real on-air reporting job was at WOLO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina. They hired me over the phone after I sent them a tape.

“Don't you want to fly me down for an interview?” I asked, perplexed they wouldn't need to meet me in person before offering me the position. “No, we're ready to hire you,” the news director told me. “The job pays $12,500. How soon can you be here?”

I remember being nervous, not just about starting a new career, but also about moving to a place I knew little about, driving 500 miles to a TV station I'd never seen, and working for and with people I'd never met.

When I rolled into the gravel parking lot and got my first look at the place, I remember thinking, “THIS is why they didn't fly me down.” Somehow I'd pictured a gleaming modern glass and steel state-of-the-art broadcast facility. What stood before me was a cinderblock, tin-roofed warehouse-type structure. The newsroom was tacked on to one side, like an afterthought. The lobby had cracked linoleum floors, the carpet was worn, and the equipment was outdated.

The capper came when my new boss showed me the studio. The set where the anchors read the news looked straight out of the 1950's, with a bamboo wall as the backdrop. Thinking out loud, I asked, “Where's the MAIN set?” Everyone in the room started laughing.

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[Ed. note: Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]

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You are the reason I am now a 24/7 FOX News fan. Your reporting from the march to Baghdad and after was great. Some times when the story wasn't all that pleasant, the sting was taken away by your interviews with the Marines themselves. Keep up the great work.

— Donna


Thank you for your words. My husband just returned this past Thursday, March 24, after a 14 month deployment to Iraq. We missed two Valentines Days, two birthdays for me and my oldest daughters (my other two daughters missed one each), Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Mother's Day...well, you get the picture. As sad as we were missing our Marine on those days, it makes them all the more special now. Thanks again for your support.

— Amy (Twentynine Palms, CA)

Thanks Rick for all the hard work you do and for supporting the troops. That is the bottom line..we need to support matter what.

— SPC Paula

I'm the wife of a soldier currently serving in Iraq. I just wanted to say thank you for all the coverage on our soldiers and your continued support for them. I have great respect for you.

— Becky

Thanks for your continued coverage of our troops. Holidays can be very depressing for soldiers and their families during these times. Over the past year my son-in-law has been proudly serving in the 1st Calvary Division in Iraq. He arrived home safely two weeks ago. It has been a year of helping with the grand baby, worrying, and praying. Now it's over for our family, but there are countless families out there that are just sending their loved ones on their one year deployment. I thank you and people like you that continue to remind the rest of us of the dangerous duties that our soldiers carry out every day without complaining or expecting anything in return. These men and women are my heroes. Thanks

— Darrell (Murphy-Livingston,TX)

Glad to see you are still with the troops, particularly in spirit. Keep on ramblin' about them. They need all the support they can get.

— Keith (Charleston AR)

I'm writing again, just to say, Rick, you're the best. Thanks for your column about the troops who miss holidays while being deployed. It was great. I am retired Army Reservist and I really appreciate what these military personnel are doing for us and I appreciate, greatly, your honest and enlightning reporting. Thanks, Rick.

— Rolland (Joplin, MO)