10. Wanted to get a free azalea plant and turkey.
9. Wanted to dance with Debra Morgan at the Golden Years party
8. Came to climb Fountain Mountain.
7. Wondered why WRAL keeps misspelling “official” as O’Fishel.
6. Heard Susan Sarandon was still hanging around with the Durham Bulls.
5. Found out he came up a couple stars short winning the 5 Star Award.
4. To audition for Wool E. Bull.
3. Wanted to be interviewed by the wild and crazy Susan Dahlin.
2. Wanted to meet Cecil and Leonard in person.
1. Wanted to confront Tom Suiter about “Football Friday” pre-empting his program.
May 20, 2015 will wrap up 22 years of laughs and sometimes mayhem on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and prior to launch Letterman was sent out on a promotional tour to the top CBS stations in the country, including WRAL.
In early March, 1993, Letterman’s “whistle stop” tour pulled into the station. The multi-talented Susan Dahlin interviewed Dave on a special set in Studio B. Susan shared her memory of meeting David. “It was a real pleasure for me to interview Dave. Knowing that he was on a media tour to promote his new move to CBS – it was probably not a lot of fun for him but he was always upbeat, funny and a joy to be around.”
“He mocked me for being so touchy with him. I tend to grab people’s knees when I interview them and in typical Dave fashion he made a risqué joke out of it. I also told him his humor had no age barriers, that my 70-year-old mother loved him too. He also had some funny come-back to that comment which I can’t remember since now I am almost 60 too and am losing my memory!”
“I was surprised at how tall and thin Dave was in person. Better looking in person I thought for sure. I interviewed a ton of celebrities during my career at WRAL TV and I would have to say Dave was one of my favorites. He was just plain good, ol’ Dave…just like you see on TV.”
Meanwhile, Steve Elizondo and Kevin Shand had sort of a “male bonding” time with Dave. Here is Kevin’s memory of that super cool day with Dave. “Myself, Zondo and Dave Letterman exchanged cigars. I recall him saying we were too young to smoke! The one I gave to Dave was a ‘Dominica,’ hand-rolled in the Dominican Republic. Dave gave me a ‘Grenadier,’ another item from the Dominican Republic.”
Steve remembers bumping into Dave and immediately noticed his leather bound cigar carrier in his pocket. Steve offered Dave a hand rolled cigar from St. Augustine. In exchange, Letterman whipped out a Cohiba – the grand kahuna of cigars, and gave it to Steve.
Where are those cigars now? Kevin said his is “somewhere on the Shand compound.” He also recalls the day when he discovered the cigar in the “trash bag” to be thrown out by his wife. Kevin quickly rescued the Letterman cigar and placed it in a secure location that currently escapes Kevin’s memory.
Steve sacrificed his Letterman cigar for a major celebration. A time-honored tradition is for new dads to smoke a cigar and hand out a few stogies to pals. Steve smoked his cigar upon the arrival of his first son, Jake, on March 23, 1993 – just a few weeks after Letterman’s visit to WRAL.
Jay Jennings had the honor of following Letterman around the station shooting video for a news story and promo. That promo has survived the years and will soon appear on the CBC History website. Until then, look for the WRAL promo and various news stories about the Letterman visit to The Big 5 on WRAL News.
*Special thanks to Kevin Shand and John Harris on their creative input on the Top Ten List.
Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.