Night Owls: Confessions of a Late Night News Anchor

By Alyse Borkan  |  Nov 17, 2014
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Before drifting off to sleep, many of us still tune into the evening news to watch what’s happening in this wild and crazy world. When do these late night talking heads get any shut-eye? All smiles on air, with crazy sleep schedules, you would never guess what goes on when the camera goes off.

Veteran newsman Michael Scott has worked the camera on both national and local networks. The odds are good that you’ve seen him in action. From Entertainment Tonight to all the major local markets in the United States, you must have caught Scott on your screen.

Getting started in television just came to Scott naturally.

I was always hooked on TV and especially the news. I come from a generation that grew up in front of the boob tube. We saw mankind’s major accomplishments — the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King, the fight for Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, the race to outer space and the eventual walk on the moon — TV took me there. As one of my broadcasting heroes once said, “The job of the anchor man is to hold the public’s hand through the tough time.” I did that many times, including the loss of both space shuttles, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even earthquakes.

Mr. Scott looked up to some of the greatest reporters of our time.

I tried to copy ABC’s Peter Jenning’s suave style. From WABC’s Roger Grimsby, I admired his wit. I looked to Ed Bradley, of 60 Minutes, and attempted to emulate his reporting skills. Shows how long I have been around, all three have gone to the big newsroom in the sky.

But being a big-time reporter isn’t all lights and cameras —especially when it comes to the crazy hours.

My worst broadcasting shift was in Dallas. I was working for NBC, did “Over and Out” at night, and did the morning news. This meant getting up at 1:30am to get to work by 3am. I was forty-five years old at the time, it was when I got my first real taste for caffeine. I was also married and my wife had regular hours. So it meant getting home by 3pm. I would grab a few hours sleep before my wife got home, then I’d get up to spend some quality time with her, then right back to trying to grab a few more hours of zzzzz’s.

Scott’s funniest on air moment? It’s actually one that you may have witnessed on YouTube.

It was in 2002 while working in Dallas. Remember back then there was no YouTube, Google, or Facebook? My moment happened on live television. I dealt with a five-foot snake, and a lizard. By 11am every NBC station in the country started airing my blooper. That night Jay Leno showed it on his show seven times! So many people went looking for the video on my station’s website that it crashed! Until this day it is still considered one of the most viewed videos out there.

Now, Mr. Scott has somewhat of a normal sleep schedule. He has taken a sabbatical from daily and nightly news grind. He enjoys going to bed at a normal hour. And now you can see his most embarrassing moment on YouTube:

Randi Newton is based in New York City.  She currently is a contributor to The New York Observer, and also writes for LA Weekly, Newsweek, TheFix, and TheGloss.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @WorldOfRandi, and visit her blog.

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