A WRAL-TV fixture will close up shop on Friday, May 18, 2018, after 38 years with the Big 5. His face may not be known to viewers, but Producer Kevin Shand spent decades behind the scenes creating everything from newscasts to Brain Game.
Pam Parris Allen formerly worked as a newscast producer/director at WRAL-TV decades ago. She returned several years ago as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project and retired at the end of 2017. Parish worked closely with Shand during her news tenure at the Big 5. So for today we thought it appropriate to bring back her CBC Throwback Thursday series, which she wrote weekly during her time archiving CBC’s history, to share a story of memories she wrote in honor of Shand’s retirement.
Kevin Shand, “Just like his ol’ man”
Kevin Shand grew up in a television station! When school was dismissed at the end of the day, most kids went home to play with their neighborhood pals. Kevin went to the station where his father, John Shand, was vice president and general manager of WTVR in Richmond, Virginia. There daycare came in the form of a studio to romp around in, or he could hang out in the newsroom. Kevin inherited his comedic timing from his father who was also known for his wit and on-stage presence. He is a chip off his “old man,” a term of affection that he called his father.
I met Kevin shortly after I arrived at WRAL as a director/producer in 1981. Kevin was working in the traffic department and was in charge of broadcast standards and practices. Prior to WRAL, he worked for JDS (Jefferson Data Systems). He traveled around the country overseeing the installation of information technology equipment in television stations. When he arrived at WRAL, he was the “go to computer guru.”
The first time I saw Kevin, he reminded me of comedian David Steinberg – with a beard and glasses – crossed with a pleasant werewolf! Kevin was hairy! After I heard him tell a joke, I had to add comedian Steve Landesberg to the mix. This Kevin guy is funny! Toss in the fact that he drove a Porsche and could play the bass guitar made him very cool.
A few years later, Kevin and I got to work together on a new project called “Live at Noon.” It premiered April 29, 1985. Kevin was the producer and I was the director. The concept was to deliver news during the first segment and the rest of the program offered interesting features and entertainment. Live at Noon started with Denece Boyer and Tom McNamara. After Tom’s departure to Arizona, John Hudson joined Denece. Their chemistry was perfect and full of mischief. It was not unusual for them to break into giggling fits during the show. That played right into Kevin’s penchant for jocularity and his creative ability to set-up situations to showcase the anchors’ personalities. Kevin knew what resonated with the viewers. “Live at Noon” was a tremendous hit that left the competition in the dust.
Kevin’s breaking news sensibility was just as acute and his comedic timing. On the morning of January 28, 1986 Kevin and I were standing in the control room watching the ABC news feed prior to and including the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Preproduction had just been completed and we were about 20 minutes away from the noon newscast. I had the large monitors filled with the live feed. We were thrilled to watch the launch and then came the command to “go with throttle up.” Kevin and I instantly saw that something catastrophic had happened. We looked at each other and said “that’s not normal.” We zipped into action. Kevin zoomed to the newsroom and I gathered up the studio crew. Denece raced to the news set while Kevin banged out copy. Amanda Danchi, News PA, stopped the recording of the news feed, cued it up and ran it to the feed station. We raced back upstairs to the control and broke into ABC network programming. None of the networks had issued a Special Report yet. We broke the news before the networks did! All of us earned a well deserved “attaboy.”
I left WRAL in 1987 and returned in 2013 to work with John Harris on the CBC History project. When it came time to select to a cubicle, I looked no further than the one across from Kevin.
Kevin’s cubicle reflects his personality and his life journey. There are posters of his favorite TV show “The Simpsons.” There are pictures of his father and mother, pictures of Kevin as a kid at WTVR, old boxes full of one inch video tapes, an old colored light bulb that was used as a Christmas light on the old tower behind WRAL, American flags, pictures of his wife, Barbara, who worked as a projectionist at WRAL back-in-the-day AND was a comedian and joke writer, pictures of his granddaughter, Sam, who has been heavily influenced by Kevin’s wit! His cubicle is a mini-broadcast museum and a family album!
For Kevin, the first order of the business day starts with a quick scan through websites tailored for broadcasters. He can tell you about FCC decisions, television stations bought and sold, change in network affiliations, change in call-letters, change in ownership, who was fired and who was hired, etc. When I would arrived at 8:30 AM, I would say “Good Morning Mr. Shand! Wassup?” He would tell me about his “hounds” going crazy in the middle of the night, or what he and Barb had planned for the upcoming weekend. Then he would punctuate the discussion with a joke, which would then lead to “remember the episode of M*A*S*H when the Korean villagers learned to say ‘Frank Burns eats worms’,” followed by a recitation of one lingers from M*A*S*H which would often lead into a discussion about the old TV show TAXI, or Barney Miller, or movies produced by Mel Brooks. By then, it was time to work.
In all my years of working in television in North Carolina and California, I have never met a more versatile, humble, knowledgeable, talented, creative, selfless, dedicated person. Kevin has kept up with technology, viewer trends and preferences, and production techniques. He transitioned from traffic, to news, to promotion, to local production without missing a beat. And the reason is quite simple, he is like his “ol’ man” – a professional broadcaster.
Stay classy my friend. Thanks for letting me play along.
Thanks to Pam Allen for these capcom photos.