Tony Beason 1973 and today at KY3 in Springfield,MO

Dick Van Valkenburg was one of the true characters I've met in this business...and that's saying a lot ! While I knew he had a home and visited him there on more than one occasion, it seemed as though he lived in his newscar 24-7. It was a car to behold ! Radios, scanners, cameras, wires dangling, dancing and spiraling. I don't think the backseat had ever met a human derriere, covered by momentos accumulated by the best damn hard newsman in the business. Dick was totally professional and when I was at WAAY, he already knew more about cops, robbers and the legal system than I would for years. By example, he taught me you had to be aggressive to get the story. But there was one time Dick was taken and we all went along for the ride.

It was otherwise a typical wreck. A car rear-ended a pickup one night with no injuries. It was the type of wreck Dick would check out and we would not have aired.....but this one had a twist. Seems when Dick arrived on the scene, there were a bunch of goldfish flopping around on the road. Dick asked a cop where the fish came from and he said, 'the guy driving the pickup had been to a wild party, swallowed the fish while drinking beer (this was during the time when goldfish swallowing at parties was not unheard of) and had thrown up after the wreck, barfing up the goldfish.' Seemed plausible and the cop told Dick that with a straight face. Dick shot the goldfish and wreck, came back and said 'boys I've got a great story.' We reported it as such and hear from the guy that night threatening a lawsuit.

He was actually a fisherman and was going to use the goldfish as bait ! Seems the cop, like every policeman then, knew Dick and thought he would immediately pick up on his joke. Another lesson learned, know the true source of goldfish before reporting !

Tony Beason

© 2003 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update 6-26-2003]