(WMC-TV) – We're mourning the death of a member of the Action News 5 family.
Richard "Dic" Condra, retired TV 5 engineer, died Friday night at the age of 83 after devoting more than half his life to WMC-TV.
Back when Dic was inducted into the "Silver Circle" of the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences another Action News 5 veteran, Mason Granger, paid tribute to the man who kept our station on the air for decades.
The following story originally aired in September 1998.
The Golden Age of Radio was truly golden for a little boy named Richard "Dic" Condra.
"Radio was fascinating," Condra said. "I would lay on the floor and listen to the Jack Benny show, Red Skeleton show."
That led Dic to became a deejay on WLAY in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, while still in his teens.
"I would pick out my Harry James and Glenn Miller and stuff like that," said Condra. "I ended up being I guess you'd call it a celebrity in high school."
During the 50s, he became a different sort of radioman on the USS Snowden during the Korean War.
After military service Dic went to Broadcasting School and got a degree in TV engineering
"I said, man, pictures..."
He started work as a studio engineer at WMC Radio and Television in Memphis in 1955.
"I reported to work on December 12th, and by golly, I been here ever since. That was 43 years ago. I could not wait til the next morning to come to work."
Among his many accomplishments, Dic helped to build and operate the first live remote trucks in the Mid South.
"There wasn't too many mobile units around the country. You had to build it yourself. You couldn't call on someone else. All three networks would use us. Traveled this entire country doing all kind of sporting events, presidential inaugurations. I televised events with President Johnson. Eisenhower...oh, man does that go back...Eisenhower, Nixon," Condra explained.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated in Memphis, and violence and fires broke out in cities across the country, Dic provided live coverage for all three networks, despite the risk.
"It ended up being very dangerous. I was driving home, I was shot at. Luckily, it missed."
Dic and his remote crew faced another challenge, in the 70s, when fire broke out at the WMC studios.
"Completely demolished the first floor newsroom. And destroyed all of our videotape machines. The entire news department was set up in the parking lot. And we pulled in, having all of our equipment, video tape machines and everything, and we got this big round of applause. We stayed on the air out of our mobile unit until the building was rewired again."
When Dic retired in June, 1998, WMC named the station's front drive in his honor…for his many contributions to the broadcasting profession in the Mid-South.
"I never thought when I was spinning 78 RPM records that I would end up at one station in Memphis, Tennessee, for 43 years. But it's been a ball. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Visitation for Richard "Dic" Condra will be 9 o'clock Monday morning, January 13th with the funeral immediately afterward at 10 at Memorial Park on Poplar Avenue.
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