The ABC Family. Posted March 24th, 2010 by

Its not the one you’re thinking — yes, often times when I was walking by some room with blinking monitors and lights, I could catch a glimpse of Urkel and Full House — but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about the ABC News family — and essentially my early 20s there. The best shrine to the ABC News family can be found, in what still may be the ABC News barbor shop. There you find smiling old face shots of Hugh Downs. Despite who’s face you may walk by on the way in to work — they always changed, you could always visit Hugh in the barborshop.

“And so… finally tonight” — like our esteemed leader who had to announce the news of his own cancer, the ABC News family was told they too have cancer as well. Some may call it late stage, there’s arguments over who knew what when, but if they don’t amputate, they could loose the entire body — some argue they still might.

So this Friday, the voluntary period will end for those who will accept buyouts for their careers at ABC. For those who are left, if there’s not enough hands raised — more will be forced to leave involuntarily. If you consider an average family of four, the numbers are staggering — you would lose 1/4.

I’m not sure, and I don’t think many people within the alphabet net really understand what this means and what it will look like — losing what in any other families is the equivalent to a brother — or in this case a mentor, a fixture, or an incompetent crabby person that yelled at you on the phone and made so many moments of your life at ABC a living hell.

That’s right — like any other family, the ABC News Family was highly dysfunctional at almost every level and everyone knows it. But we always got together when it counted — for the holidays, for the elections, for the Michael Jackson stories — and to be most honest, for the unseemly amount of deaths that have struck that place over the last 10 years.

I count at least a dozen(its probably more I’ve lost count), who died seemingly before their day since I first joined the family in 2003. I’ve never been in a family who has seen more death, hardship and drama — I frankly never want to again, but you don’t choose your family.

The thing that’s most bizarre is when the News becomes the News for a moment how would you cover your own funeral? At ABC, as well as others, there are obituaries ready to go in the event that an unspoken, but mystical list of famous people were to die at any moment. Who is going to speak on Friday for all the careers who are now probably ending?

I gave my early 20s to ABC News. I know many have given their entire lives. What it means is, you don’t make it home for your own family’s holidays — and you sacrifice part of your humanity towards that news family. I worked 21 hours a day at times there — hearing the clickity clack of the basement tunnel that sits underneath building 47 on the way to ‘beta land’ as I would sometimes run with pride tapes down for air at 5AM. That is literally the ‘anals’ of ABC News.

There’s the smell in the stairs. There’s the good deal at the cafeteria. There’s the sickness in building 147 that hasn’t yet been figured out that gives everyone headaches. There’s the free starbucks I would steal from the 5th floor. There’s the security guy at Columbus Ave. that I never understood what he was rambling about all day till I once stopped to listen and realized the guy was actually interesting.

There were the stare’s I got in the hallways when I decided to go with the mustache or shave my beard.

And always the constant bleeping of this or that in the distance — the people jockeying for attention on the ABC 320 hotline system. The CURSE of the World News Tonight anchor chair (cleansed when they dropped TONIGHT so future ones would be safe).

All this crap made up my early 20s. Those days when I didn’t need sleep for some reason and all I cared about was ABC News DLs. I’m still trying to unpack all of it. It was so intense. What does it all mean — will it help my career — was it bad, was it good? I don’t really know.

What I do know is.. for this kid from a family of four who grew up in Ohio — who was living in New York City, alone, for the first time — ABC News was my family. I felt an intimacy towards it in the hours I spent there, and the people I shared those times with.

This week is hard on so many people — and I want everyone to know that I honestly feel crappy about the whole thing. I know we weren’t the most loving family — I often watched as you all as you ate your young or CONSTANTLY enjoyed each others demises.. I never really understood that part — but I guess its the family business.

So now that this week has come and next week won’t be the same. For those of you who are going out in the world — its amazing place and you’ll be ok. I don’t know how I can help you — but no matter who you are — you’re family — and I’ll always be there for you.

For those who are going to stay, despite this loss, we are still family and things change. We’ll be there to help you deal with this too.

It seems strange coming up with 800 words on a corporate news division type-place owned by the Walt Disney Company — but there are too many ghosts in that building for it to ever really just be accounting.  Its a family, I mean sometimes its more than that, people did take bullets for each other there at some points — and within that family, we’re known for making cheesy statements, echoing such people like Ted Koppel who used to end the ABC NEWS day with a good nite from all of us. This week, I offer, for all of THEM at ABC News, good luck.

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