AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - On this day 40 years ago, our very own Walt Howard began his career at KFDA NewsChannel 10.
From the anchor desk, to the weather wall and even the occasional sportscast - he’s been a staple for all in the Tri-State area.
A profession his high school sweetheart said he was destined for.
“Way back in the late ’60′s when tape recorders, and a lot of people won’t know what that is, but it’s the reel to reel tape recorder... when it first came out his dad got one for Christmas,” said Terry Howard, Walt’s wife. “They knew right then and there that he was going to want to be a reporter because he would sneak it out and go play with it.”
Terry said he had offers from stations in big cities across the country, but chose to stay in Amarillo.
“He loves it here,” she said. “He grew up on the Mississippi River in Burlington, Iowa, but he said the best thing he ever did was move to Amarillo. He likes the wide open spaces and the big Texas sunsets and just the people here. He just loves the people here and their can-do attitude.”
The decision created memories his sons, Aric and Lee, are thankful for to this day.
“Growing up in middle school and elementary school, you always have that big debate of my dad’s cooler than yours,” said Lee Howard. “Aric and I always had the nuke to drop down on anybody who got in that schoolyard argument with you because at the Tri-State Fair we were up on the big scaffolding and [were able] to climb up there and watch the news get filmed. Then you’re up sitting on the guys lap who’s telling everybody. It kind of felt like growing up with a movie star.”
“I played basketball as a kid and [Walt] had to work in the evenings, but he’d come out to coach basketball practice,” said Aric Howard. “He’d be in his suit and we all thought we were NBA players because on TV, all their coaches always wore a suit.”
Since the beginning his career as an overnight reporter, he’s truly taken the news to new heights.
“From working to keep Cannon Air Force Base open and really leading that charge,” said Lee. “They took him up and let him fly in the Thunderbird. So not only is my dad on TV, he’s a fighter pilot. He was able to do the canned food drives and do a lot for the High Plains Food Bank and so he’s also the humanitarian.”
“When we think of Walt Howard, we really see Walt as the face of the Together We Can Holiday Food Drive,” said Zack Wilson, the executive director at the High Plains Food Bank.
Walt is going on his third decade of emceeing the food drive.
“If we’re mid-week or the last two days of the food drive, and we’re running behind on some of our goals, I can always hear Walt saying ‘We can do this,'” said Wilson.
His spirit of service doesn’t stop there, as he’s emceed the Armed Forces Banquet and other veteran-related events in The Panhandle for years.
“Anything that has to do with veterans because of Lee being a veteran, he will volunteer and help,” said Terry.
Walt launched the careers of countless other journalists in the business, teaching radio television announcing at Amarillo College for 20 years.
“I was always absolutely delighted to see our Amarillo College students get to work at NewsChannel 10, because I knew [Walt] would be their mentor, their news director, their managing editor,” said Dr. Paul Matney, the former Amarillo College President. “I can’t tell you how many students I had that said thank you for bringing Walt Howard to Amarillo College to teach that course.”
He’s always done the job with the utmost integrity and professionalism, but he always knows how to make the whole room laugh behind the scenes.
That’s a quality one former co-anchor, Kari King, remembers well.
“I still have one of my favorite jokes and I do tell it and give [him] credit," said King. "It’s the day [we were] standing in a crowded KFDA newsroom and [he] shouted to the masses 'Hey if you’re looking for Kari and you’re looking high and low, you’re wasting half your time.”
From visiting your city during summer celebration to countless community events, he’s been your most trusted news anchor in the Texas Panhandle for the last four decades.
Moreover, he is a family man with a love for Amarillo.
“I would say his chosen vocation isn’t just a job, it’s a calling,” said Lee.
“I’m so proud of him for putting our family first because both of our boys are grown men, they have families of their own,” said Terry. “They are good people and it’s because of him. He’s a good man and he’s done just so much to present a good role model for the boys and for the grandson and he learned that from his dad.”
From all of us at NewsChannel 10, thank you Walt Howard for all the laughs, the lessons and most importantly doing news the right way.
Congratulations, and here’s to the years to come.