I had the privilege of working with McCaa during a series of contract gigs at Channel 8 that involved the assignment desk. The best description of what working on the assignment desk is comes from one of my esteemed Abilene Christian University journalism professors, Dr. Charles Marler—it’s “like an octopus.” For example, the Desk:
• Manages day-to-day and breaking news assignments for TV news crews.
• Navigates Twitter and Facebook for updates.
• Vets information across a host of databases.
• Provides research support by phone.
My most-memorable-McCaa moment was during WFAA’s coverage of the Dallas police ambush in the summer of 2016. This tragic event brought the newsroom to a collective heartfelt loss, for all those who were killed and injured. There were other emotions that elevated us: admiration and respect for the videographers and reporters who were on the scene that fateful day, July 7, 2016. In the midst of handling logistics, gathering details of funeral arrangements and verifying other information for producers, I witnessed McCaa’s calm leadership during our team briefings.
Having worked in journalism for a variety of news organizations such as: KRBC-TV in Abilene, WPTY-TV, WLOK and WGKX radio stations in Memphis, FayObserver.com in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as well as The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi, and Dallas, (not to mention a wealth of freelance gigs), by far the Dallas police ambush story was the toughest to cover.
McCaa brought experience gained from other challenging assignments in his long career to this tragic event in Dallas.
He writes that retiring from television news after more than 42 years is “not easy.” However, he sensed that God “decided it was time” and he’s being obedient.
I am thrilled that my career dovetailed with his and that I gained so much from being in the newsroom during his tenure. His TV news experience, his depth of knowledge and his caring spirit elevated the environment and the newscast. Every time.
Thank you for your service. #ThanksJohn