When Joel Daly stepped down as the dean of Chicago television news anchors in 2005, he insisted that I not describe his departure from WLS-Channel 7 as a “retirement.”
Yes, he was leaving the ABC-owned station after 38 years, but there was still plenty he wanted to do. “No, I’m not retiring. That smacks of Arizona and mid-week golfing,” he told me. “It’s more of a ‘change of pace in a different place.’”
Near the top of his to-do list was writing what he said would be a “tell-all book,” chronicling his life’s adventures not only as a Hall of Fame broadcast journalist but as a lawyer, actor, pilot, country singer and champion yodeler.
In 2011, the Renaissance man of Chicago media finally fulfilled that promise when he self-published his memoir, The Daly News: A Life on Television News. Although well received at the time, it never got the wide circulation it deserved.
So now Daly, 79, has released a new, expanded version of the book, this time published by Rick Kaempfer’s Eckhartz Press and available both in paperback and e-book version.
Among the dozen or so new stories in the latest edition are Daly’s first impressions of Chicago in the 1960s (“It was an exciting time to be in the center of the city”) and details of his encounters with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Beatles. It also includes candid assessments of some of his co-workers and bosses (“John Coleman was a clown, a showman. But he was also brilliant . . .”).
A highlight of the text are numerous transcripts of Daly’s commentaries, a staple of the newscasts he co-anchored with Fahey Flynn starting in the late ’60s. In contrast to the “happy talk” image his station projected, Daly’s smart, literate essays were evidence that his magna cum laude Yale education and world travels had not gone to waste.
“In a medium where so often the picture ignores perspective, and motion become meaning, it was a great satisfaction to harvest the riches of language, to write a little poetry, to quote a little Shakespeare,” he said in his final commentary in 1978. “Or e.e. cummings who said: ‘The reward in a job well done is having done it.’ I have done it, and I am richly rewarded.”
To order a copy of The Daly News online see eckhartzpress.com.