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Tom Haley, R.I.P.

By admin Published: March 17, 2009


(Photo from WKYC.com)

The WKYC personality has passed away at the age of 88, the station reports.
Details are here.

Haley has not been a significant regular presence on local TV since 1997, when Channel 3 ended "Today in Cleveland," the show hosted by Haley and Del Donahoo. Donahoo continued to work for the station, but it did not have a place for Haley. His departure ended an old TV era at the station; he was the last member of the Channel 3 staff to have worked as the station's booth announcer -- people who would do the station identifications and other announcements live on the air, before tape made them superfluous.

Here's an item I wrote when the show had its last telecast:

Both Haley and Donahoo showed old clips, heard a taped tribute from former Channel 3-er Al Roker (now a weatherman for NBC), and enjoyed their last telecast.
Donahoo even let Haley hug him -- something they'd joked about for ages. They got varsity letters from Lakewood High School, a proclamation from Vermilion, one more cake and, off the air, calls from friends, colleagues and fans.
The final quotation, attributed to Abraham Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson, was delivered by Haley: "I'm too big to cry and it hurts too much to laugh."

"In this plastic age I think we had a show that had two human beings," Haley said when the show was canceled. I have posted my story about the cancellation announcement, with comments from Haley and Donahoo, after the jump.

Here's the cancellation story:

Fans of Del Donahoo and Tom Haley are going to have to look elsewhere for a low-key morning wake-up.
Today in Cleveland, the 6:30 a.m. weekday show hosted by Donahoo and Haley, will be dropped as of June 13 by WKYC (Channel 3) after about 18 years on the air, a victim of declining ratings and intensified news competition.
After that date Channel 3 will expand its 5:30 a.m. news hour into the 6:30 half-hour as well.
Haley will be out of a job. Donahoo, 73, has been asked to continue doing his Del's Folks features and other reports for Channel 3 newscasts.
General manager Paul Trelstad praised Donahoo and Haley for their "reflection of what life is really like."
But Donahoo said he has not decided if he will continue. "I still feel I've as much energy as I ever had," he said yesterday, "but it may be time to retire."
He deferred a decision on his future, saying the cancellation of the morning show "is a big disappointment and a shock. I didn't see it coming."
Haley, who has been in Cleveland broadcasting since 1947, declined to give his age because "I might want to work again." He seemed even more stunned than Donahoo. "I'm not thinking too clearly," he said.
Though bracketed by news and the Today show, Today in Cleveland was a generally lighthearted alternative to the more somber fare, with the hosts sitting at a breakfast table in a set resembling a kitchen.
It was a place to hear a bit of polka music (and watch Haley dance to it), note birthdays, or just listen to ambling chat between the two hosts, whose folksiness carried over into their many appearances before Northeast Ohio community groups.
Donahoo recalled that when the show was started -- after people at Channel 3 noticed the friendly banter between Donahoo and Haley -- they were repeatedly told to "loosen it up."
"In this plastic age I think we had a show that had two human beings," said Haley, who was the last member of the Channel 3 staff to have worked as the station's booth announcer -- people who would do the station identifications and other announcements live on the air, before tape made them superfluous.
"I would meet a lot of people who knew me from Del's Folks or other human-interest stories," said Donahoo, "but I was most associated with that breakfast-table half-hour at 6:30 a.m. . . . Even though I had to get up at 2:30 in the morning, it made coming to work a pleasure."
Neither man bashed Channel 3 management for the cancellation. Donahoo, who has been at Channel 3 since 1968, said he was "disappointed but there's no bitterness."
Trelstad, who called the cancellation of Today in Cleveland "the most difficult decision I've ever made in television," said, "I've been watching the show over the last six months, and you can't help but fall in love with these guys.
"The problem is, fewer and fewer viewers are choosing to watch it," said Trelstad who joined Channel 3 in October as general manager. "There's been a steady decline."
And that decline comes as morning newscasts are ever more important to local news. "What we're hearing is the 11 o'clock (evening) news used to be the kahuna," said Trelstad. "That was what people based their choice on. But more and more, in focus groups people are telling us that their decision is based on the morning show. That's a defining newscast more than ever."

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