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Published April 24 2013

Forum editorial: Reliable ‘voice of reason’

Marv Bossart embodied a rare blend of cool professionalism and personal warmth that connected with television viewers during a distinguished career as WDAY-TV anchor that spanned four decades. News of his death Tuesday at the age of 79 touched many on a personal level because of his avuncular, reassuring presence in their living rooms.

A striking theme in the remembrances from Bossart’s colleagues is the personal kindness – the unflappable genuineness – that he brought to the anchor’s chair, a quality that was transmitted to viewers over the often-cool medium of television. Journalists must maintain their objectivity as part of their professional persona, but Bossart never allowed that necessary distance to become a barrier. Although he took his role seriously, he leavened it with a goofy sense of humor, often directed at himself.

As William C. Marcil Sr., chief executive officer of Forum Communications Co., which owns WDAY and The Forum, put it Tuesday, “A community has only one Marv Bossart.” He added: “His spirit will live with all that saw him on TV or ran into him at the grocery store. He was as delightful in person as he was on the air. An era has ended today.”

Bossart’s 37-plus years as anchor encompassed enormous changes in technology as well as broadcasting eras. During his 42-year tenure at WDAY, the station switched its affiliation from NBC to ABC, a network Bossart worked for in Chicago after graduating from Northwestern University, where he got a master’s degree in journalism. He retired in 2000, and the airwaves have never been the same since his last signoff, which brought tears to the eyes of his colleagues.

Claudia Danovic, the first of his co-anchors, remembers that Bossart wrote the 6 p.m. newscast himself, a hands-on approach that she believes accounts for why he was so comfortable on the air. He was both producer and anchor. “Marv was always calm, the voice of reason, getting down to work to get the story on the air, on time, straight up at 6:00. Mr. Dependable.” WDAY Chief Meteorologist John Wheeler, for whom Bossart was a mentor and father figure, summed it up nicely when he observed, “He just had a way of softening the hard days.”

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.