An icon of local TV news in mid-Michigan is leaving the anchor desk and setting sail for retirement. Jane Aldrich began her post at Lansing CBS affiliate WLNS 31 years ago, on October 14, 1985.
The Ann Arbor native began her broadcasting career in radio, then worked in television in Toledo, Ohio before coming to Lansing.
On Thursday, Jane Aldrich delivers the last newscast of her career.
WKAR’s Kevin Lavery sat down with Aldrich just days before her exit from the studio lights and asked her to go back to the beginning, to uncover the spark that led to her love of journalism.
I was a curious kid, right from the gate. I was always interested in everything and everyone, so I always had questions and curiosity there. I always felt led to entertain. I had a learning disability when I was in elementary school that (made it) very hard for me to read and write. As a result of that, I thought my positive reinforcement came in entertaining people. Primarily my family at first and then the relatives, then the neighbors. Then, one year for Christmas I asked Santa for a tape recorder, which he delivered! And then I started to interview people and put on skits and shows and do musical things. To narrow down your question...yeah, why journalism? Curiosity. Interested in people and interested in just learning more.
I’m very interested to learn that you had a learning disability that prevented you early on from reading and writing so well. That’s the core of what we do as reporters; read, write and present. Where do you think the threshold is that moves what you do from simply reading and writing and reporting the facts to a higher plane that becomes something that looks like public service?
You have to care. You have to care about the facts, obviously, and the fairness. But you also have to care about your public and the viewers or listeners. You have to care about your community. Just making sure that you express yourself in ways that can be easily digested and understood. We can use “25-cent” words, but I think to be clear and concise, you need to be able to articulate sometimes very complex information in a way that’s easily accessible, digestable and understandable. So caring, to me, is the number one quality.
One of your ongoing segments that you founded is “Tell Me Something Good.” Do you have a favorite?
That’s a good question. There’s so many. I’ve done so many different ones that have to do with people in prominent positions, and also just your everyday Jane and Joe out there, of which I consider myself pretty every day. You know, (it’s) the people that really open their hearts to me and share, maybe, the complexities of their lives and struggles, but that have somehow done well and used that to motivate them to goodness and greatness.
Are you hoarding the blooper reel for yourself...or is WLNS going to launch it Thursday night?
I don’t know, but I’ll tell you, there’s been so many bloopers. You talk about people making mistakes....there’s so many funny things. But you just kind of smile through them all. It shows it’s live TV. We tape things in advance, but it’s all live. Yeah, there’s a few bloopers there, things that still haunt me. But you can’t go back. You can only go forward.
So, when you wake up on Friday the 13th (the day after your last broadcast)...are you going to feel lucky?
I’m lucky right now, every day of my life. I feel so blessed. I’ve been given so many wonderful opportunities. This has been a dream come true. I’ve had the support and love from my family and friends, my co-workers, the staff and management and this community. Every day of my life is a gift. I feel lucky every day. But waking up Friday morning and thinking, the time I’ve spent on the anchor desk is over; I’m not leaving town, I’d like to do some community liaison work. But at this part of my life, it’s time. I’m ready to do some other things and have some time with family and friends, because truly in the end, that’s what the most important thing is. Not things, but people.