In the Spotlight

News & Features
Remembering Dave Moore
By Dan Olson
January 29, 1998
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Dave Moore, one of Minnesota's best known television news anchors, has died. Moore, who spent nearly his entire career at WCCO-TV in his hometown of Minneapolis, had heart surgery last year and had been seriously ill for six months. Moore's friends and former colleagues say he lasted a long time in TV news because of his credibility with viewers.

Moore: If you are as concerned as I about the monster that is technology that is controlling our lives, you may wish to avoid the display at the Dayton's downtown store. Among other things is a video telephone, selling for 1500 simoleons. One of the disadvantages being that if you're looking at the caller, you're less inclined to put her on ignore.
DAVE MOORE'S AUTHORITATIVE PRESENCE contributed to his longevity as a news anchorman. Nearly every weekday evening for 40 years he sat at the WCCO anchor desk. Moore's personal style of news writing and delivery attracted viewers. His friend Don Stolz, the director of the Old Log Theater in Chanhassen first met Moore as a young man who had his heart set on a stage career. Stolz says Moore's TV popularity was rooted in his sincerity.
Stolz: And he was trained - his voice was trained, he knew how to express himself, but he also, anything that he broadcast, he believed.
Moore continued acting in amateur and professional theater productions until late in life. The University of Minnesota theater arts graduate insisted throughout his career he was not a journalist. But KARE news anchor Pat Miles says Moore was a classic journalist. Miles and Moore together read the news on WCCO for years before her move to a rival station. She says Moore personally checked all the stories he read.
Miles: He made sure that he knew exactly what those stories were about, what was going on, that the facts were correct, that - he would get on the phone and double check things himself always. So he saw himself as the final editor, he took responsibility when there was a mistake.
Moore's media career began in classic fashion - leaving the bright lights of Minneapolis, his hometown - for a radio job in a small Michigan town. Moore told Minnesota Public Radio listeners during a Minnesota State Fair broadcast three years ago he lied to get his first job. He had no sports announcing experience but told his new boss otherwise and was sent off to call a football game.
Moore: I was immediately thrust into the position of doing a play by play in a snow storm in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My coverage was such that I was almost ridden out of town when I returned to Battle Creek.
Moore kept his eyes open for a chance at a job in his hometown and eventually found work at WCCO. The faces on national and local TV in the early 1950s were nearly all men, many trained as newspaper reporters. The combination of Moore as anchor and high-quality reporting from the newsroom staff put WCCO in the ratings lead for nearly a decade in the late 60s and early 70s. Pressure to attract more viewers to get more advertising revenue grew. Crime reporting became a more prominent part of the newscast. Moore understood the trend, and disapproved.
Moore: People said "Why is there so much crime reported on there?" Because, number one, I'll tell you frankly, it's easy to cover. The police cooperate and all of the officials cooperate when there's a crime and you're ready to go and you're going to cover it.
By 1992, near the end of his career, Moore still read crime stories on his Moore On Sunday TV news broadcast but not without making a joke about the medium's pre-occupation with violence.
Moore: You know, so many people ask us "Why do you review the news? Why do you regurgitate all that bad news? Who needs that? What's the point?" Well, the point is to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have survived the week.
Moore disapproved of another big change in TV news - putting a co-anchor in front of viewers. Decades of male dominance on the WCCO news set ended with the arrival of Susan Spencer in the early 1970s to co-anchor the news with Moore. A few years later Pat Miles took the chair next to him. She says he opposed co-anchors not because he wanted to keep women out of TV news. On the contrary, friends say, Moore championed the rights of women. But Miles says Moore felt two people reading the news detracted from the content.
Miles: He thought that one individual could read a newscast, and that really it would go much smoother and people would get a lot more information if they didn't have to deal with all the chit-chat between co-anchors.
Graying hair and an occasionally raspy voice from heavy smoking did nothing to diminish Moore's appeal to viewers. In the 1970s his stature and time on the tube grew - reading the news at 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock as well as helping produce the Moore Reports. The hour-long documentaries brought the station a wall full of prestigious awards. The success apparently didn't go to Moore's head. Bud Kraehling, longtime WCCO TV weatherman and his friend says Moore was steadfast in his belief the TV ratings system was a poor measure of viewer attitudes.
Kraeling: He never thought that they really reflected a true picture of people that were watching, and I would hear him argue with management about ratings - you know, they don't matter, you know, if you're supposedly on top why it doesn't mean anything and if you're the bottom it doesn't mean anything. That's why they're not a true reflection of the people that are watching. And didn't like the soft news and the features and all the music in between and all the little things in the changes in the graphics and the sets. He was kind of the old fashioned, the straight news and the hard news, and the doing the best news that you could.
By the 1980s news anchor salaries at bigger stations were heading into the stratosphere but not in the Twin Cities, Pat Miles says, due in large measure to Moore.
Miles: He singlehandedly kept the salaries down in the Twin Cities for anchorpeople - I mean people all over the country were making more in other markets - in smaller markets - than they were here. And it was because Dave Moore, you know he wasn't the kind of guy that went in demanding a big salary. I don't think he ever gave himself enough credit for how important he was and how much money he made for a lot of people at WCCO-TV way back when.
Once in a while viewers were treated to Dave Moore's irrepressible sense of humor and gift for acting. He kept his hand in stage work with Twin Cities theater companies. His outlet on television was the Bedtime Nooz, a late night newscast with gag commercials. Bud Kraehling remembers being drafted into a Moore skit to play himself - a TV weatherman, being interviewed by Moore about the weather.
Kraeling: He asks me "Where does the weather come from" and I say "From the west." Anything you really hate in TV is like a one-word answer. You'd rather have a paragraph or two so you could make more sense of it. But these - he wrote these for me - all these short answers. "Well, how about all those weather - all those fronts on the map" and uh, said, "Well, they all just kind of work out."
Bud Kraehling remembers people recognizing Moore on the street and telling him how much they liked his newscasts and Moore good-naturedly asking if they didn't have anything better to do than watch TV. Viewers for four decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s, watched Dave Moore read television news with skill, attention to accuracy, and an appreciation for the world around him.