Off The Record: 45 Years and Counting

Feb 2, 2017

It was February 4, 1972. Don McLean’s “American Pie” was the number one single in America. Almost no one had ever heard the word “Watergate.” And Tim Skubick took the anchor desk as the host of “Off The Record” on WKAR-TV.

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery sat down with Tim Skubick to find out what’s kept his ear to the Capitol dome for more than four decades.

Every Friday morning, Tim Skubick holds court over his roundtable. That’s when the WKAR television crew tapes “Off The Record.” By St. Patrick’s Day, OTR will have logged 2,200 episodes.

“It’s so much fun,” says Skubick. “I’ve often said that when it stops being fun, you get out of the business, and I just don’t see that happening.”

Off The Record is Michigan’s longest-running TV public affairs program The show is divided into two segments. First, there’s the sometimes jocular back-and-forth between the panel of political reporters. Skubick says the real insiders love that part the most.

Part two is the interview with the guest, usually a state lawmaker.

“I often say to them, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about,” Skubick says. “It’s when people sit in that chair and they turn on the fog machine...that’s when the people get in trouble.”

Critics? Plenty. Skubick says a lot of the complaints he receives are based on viewers’ own perspectives.

“We would have (former governor) John Engler on,” he says. “The 10 people that loved Engler would say, ‘why were you so disrespectful to him?’ The 10 who hated (Engler) would say, why did you let him off the hook?’ The exact same show seen through their selective perception. I’m trying to be fair, and (I) let the chips fall where they may.”

"I often say to them, if you've got nothing to hide...you've got nothing to worry about."

Skubick has no plans to retire anytime soon. He says he easily has five more years in him to make it to an even 50.

“And beyond,” Skubick says. “There’s no reason to stop. I’ve been totally blessed, and I’ll do this thing forever. I’ll go out the door with my boots on!”

Full episodes of Off the Record with Tim Skubick, plus web-exclusive OTR Overtime segments, can be viewed at video.wkar.org and on many streaming devices