I was a young broadcast student at Central Michigan University in the early ’70’s when Channel 7 pulled off one of the greatest programming coups in local television history. The “We got who you wanted” campaign, bringing television icons Bill Bonds Marilyn Turner Al Ackerman and John Kelly together as their all-star news team.
Little did I know, at the time, I would have the pleasure of working with all of them in just a few short years. I consider both Bonds and Kelly to be mentors of mine in the broadcast business.
This past weekend, we learned of the passing of John Kelly at the age of 88.
Kelly was co-anchor of channels 7’s news program along with Bonds. Ackerman was the sports anchor and Turner handled the weather.
Kelly & Turner were husband and wife and transitioned from the news desk to a popular and highly rated magazine style morning show called “Kelly & Company”, which aired from 1978 to 1995.
I was working, at the time, for an ABC owned radio station on the same campus and began doing entertainment features for the nightly news. That lead to guest shots on Kelly and Company and guest anchoring when John & Marilyn were away or on vacation.
I remember one morning in particular, I was hosting a cooking segment in front of a live studio audience, with a Downriver restaurateur who’s specialty was muskrat! We were actually grilling the muskrat in the studio. I was live on camera as the oily smoke of dead muskrat reached my nose. I don’t have a particularly strong stomach and the smell nearly caused me to projectile vomit on live TV. Needless to say I didn’t eat any of it!
In 1984, another live show show was created for the pair in the afternoon called “Good Afternoon Detroit”.
I became a street reporter for the show and also filled in as a guest host when Kelly & Turner were out of town. At the risk of my own personal embarrassment, here’s a short video from the show in 1985:
It was a pleasure and an educational experience to work with you Mr. Kelly! R.I.P. and condolences to Marilyn and the entire family!