I caught up with John Baldwin and asked what words he might impart to the local TV promotion community. “Writing is the most important part of it,” he says. “Be creative and put it down on paper and then step back and look at it and think, does this sell the aspects that you were hoping to sell to the viewer. If the answer is yes, then go for it.”
John Baldwin, creative services director at WBAL, Hearst’s NBC affiliate in Baltimore, is retiring at the end of the year after a broadcasting career that spans some 45 years.
Baldwin started in 1977, directing newscasts at WLYH Lancaster, Pa., and eventually landed at Hearst-owned WGAL in the same city in 1985.
In 2014, Baldwin joined Hearst sister station WBAL as creative services director, a title he’s now held for nearly a decade.
“John’s always willing to lend a hand, to undertake projects on behalf of the group, and to juggle multiple responsibilities,” says Suzanne Grethen, Hearst’s senior vice president of promotion and marketing. “He’s been a steadfast and determined employee, and unwavering in his commitment to our company.70- Hearst Television’s marketing ranks are stronger for John having been part of them.”
I caught up with Baldwin and asked what words he might impart to the local TV news and promotion community.
“Writing is the most important part of it,” Baldwin says. “Be creative and put it down on paper and then step back and look at it and think, does this sell the aspects that you were hoping to sell to the viewer. If the answer is yes, then go for it.”
“John embodies the core values of WBAL-TV and Hearst Television,” says Dan Joerres, WBAL’s general manager. “His mentorship of countless individuals throughout our company has contributed significantly to our best-in-class culture and as a result, his legacy will endure throughout multiple Hearst Television properties for many years to come.”
Baldwin says one of the keys to his success over the years has been working with good people and to maintain the priorities of the television station.
“Just don’t let yourself go too far away from what your well thought-out plan should be,” he says.
Baldwin says his first taste of broadcasting and the importance of local TV news came when he was on Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pa., during the meltdown of the nuclear reactor in March 1997 shooting news for WLYH in Lancaster.
“It gave me an opportunity to contribute to the information, and hopefully make a difference in what people understood about the accident and what they needed to do to keep themselves safe,” Baldwin says. “That was a big deal and it made me understand what broadcasting was all about, serving the public.”
Baldwin says that remains one of the constants of local television.: “It’s our job to keep people informed with truth, with honesty without bias to report the facts and move on.”
Baldwin says some of the projects he’s most proud of are a recent promo campaign using custom music for the Baltimore Ravens.
“That has been a pretty cool thing working with a custom music theme that we put together,” he says.
And the 75th anniversary of WBAL and the 50th anniversary of WGAL also stand out.
“Lots of old clips, lots of old timers that were happy to talk about their days at those two stations,” he says. To me, it was fun listening to them speak about the history of the television station you are now working at. As a kid in middle school and high school, I was catching the fever of television watching those folks in front of the camera. It kept building my interest in doing what I decided to do.”
On a personal note, Baldwin recounts a story about his baseball idol.
Baldwin says in his first job at WLYH, he offered to take a news camera down to Memorial Stadium, home of the Baltimore Orioles, his favorite team, to interview his idol, Brooks Robinson. Robinson played third base for the Orioles his entire career, from 1955 until 1997. He died last month at 86.
“He was just such a generous, warmhearted individual,” Baldwin says. “One of the highlights of my career was doing something that had nothing to do with my career, but really had something to do with what I loved, baseball and the Baltimore Orioles and Brooks Robinson my boyhood hero.”
New adventures await John and his wife Joni, who live in Red Lion, Pa. An avid NFL fan (in addition to the Orioles), John looks forward to spending time with his family and friends.
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