Ralph Renick - Career

Career

Renick joined WTVJ as an intern in 1949 after graduation from the University of Miami, where he studied under an H. V. Kaltenborn Scholarship. Kaltenborn was an eminent CBS Radio commentator. Renick was the face of WTVJ, then channel 4, for the next 36 years.

Renick was unopposed as a South Florida anchor from 1949, when WTVJ aired programs from all networks via kinescopes, until it became exclusively a CBS affiliate in 1956. In that year, WCKT (now WSVN), channel 7 began broadcasting in Miami as an NBC affiliate station, followed in the late 1950s by WPST-TV (now WPLG-TV), channel 10, as ABC's outlet in Miami. Despite a strong attempt to challenge Renick and WTVJ over the years, he remained the dominant and number one rated news anchor for his entire 36 year run.

In 1957, Renick made history by broadcasting the first of nearly thirty years of nightly editorials on his 6 pm newscast, The Ralph Renick Report. Two years later, in 1959, he traveled to Cuba for an exclusive interview with the communist nation's newly minted dictator Fidel Castro, and later that same year to the Kremlin, to interview Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. In 1960, Renick named Dr. Manolo Reyes, a former lawyer in Cuba, and a pioneering Spanish-language broadcaster, to launch South Florida's first Spanish-language newscast on WTVJ.

He also opened the door to women in 1967 when he hired the nation's first female sportscaster, Jane Chastain. A year later, in 1968, Renick made history again by hiring South Florida's first black reporter, C.T. Taylor.

Renick pushed WTVJ to pioneer video tape and ENG (Electronic News Gathering) in late 1974 and by November 1975 had the state's first truly mobile live truck up and running. Shortly after 3:00 pm on November 30, 1975, Renick broke into regular programming to report an attempted assassination on Ronald Reagan, in town for a speech at the Miami Airport Ramada Inn. Because WTVJ's live capability was in place, Renick was able to throw to reporter Bob Mayer for the station's first live mobile field report (See link below).

Renick, then a widower with six children, served on the board of directors of the Associated Press from October 1977 to May 1981. He also served as president of the Associated Press Broadcasters, an advisory group for the AP's news division. Additionally, Renick was also president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

Though he continued to dominate the news ratings through the mid-1980s, Renick's world began to unravel when the founder and longtime owner of WTVJ, Wometco Enterprises, Inc., sold off the Wometco empire following the death of founder and President Mitchell Wolfson, in 1983. The station was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), an investment firm, in what was then the largest leveraged buyout in US history: one billion dollars.

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