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Inspirations: Sam Dick

Peter Chawaga

 

Early in the morning on August 27, 2006, the phone rang at Sam Dick’s Lexington home.

“I need you to come in, we think there’s been a plane crash,” the voice of Robert Thomas, WKYT’s news director, told the station anchor from the other line.

When Dick arrived at the nearly-empty station shortly after, Thomas asked him to get on the air and help viewers throughout the region understand an accident that would prove to be one of the most devastating moments in Lexington history — a domestic passenger flight had crashed while attempting to take off from Blue Grass Airport, killing all 47 passengers and two of the three crew members.

“There was nothing that early confirmed, and I was by myself at the start on the anchor desk,” Dick recalled of what he now considers the most important Kentucky story that he’s covered in his 44-year broadcasting career. “I knew we could not speculate as to why and who, and that became even more important as the morning went by, and the news got worse by the minute... The news was horrible. We treated it with great respect and reverence. We understood that families were receiving the worst news in a lifetime. Our news team stayed on the air, without commercial breaks, from 7 a.m. to midnight.”

It was a day that underscores Dick’s decades-long commitment to bringing Lexington its most important stories — in the hardest times and the most uplifting — as he retires after 34 years anchoring the news at WKYT.

Dick started at the station in 1979 as a 23 year old and spent most of his career there, save for a five-year sojourn in New York and Florida newsrooms in the 1980s. His father, David Dick, was a CBS correspondent for nearly two decades himself, winning a National Emmy Award for his coverage of the attempted assasination of Alabama Governor George Wallace.

“Those are shoes I never tried to fill, but his sense of fairness, decency, respect and the written word stayed with me,” Dick, who plans, writes and edits many of his own stories, said of his father’s influence on his own career. “I did not plan on being a news anchor. I wanted to be a storyteller like my dad. And I am proud to say, even while anchoring, I have never stopped reporting as well.”

Upon his retirement at the end of the year, Dick plans to spend more time with his wife of 26 years, Noelle, and their three children. They will spend time on lakes, in the woods, and as fans at UK football and basketball games. For somebody who spent so many years helping Kentucky understand, digest and appreciate its news, retirement gives Dick the opportunity to experience the state in a new way for himself.

“It will be a huge adjustment after 34 years on the late shift,” he said. “But I also think it will be a great adventure. Kentucky is a beautiful place, and even after all these years, there are parts of it I still need to experience. I am one lucky man!”