It is only fitting with Father’s Day taking place this weekend that I take a moment to celebrate my dad. A few months ago I wrote a post about my 83-year-old father’s recent health crisis where he underwent quadruple bypass surgery at Sacred Heart Regional Heart & Vascular Institute in Pensacola, FL. I was concerned that he wouldn’t make it through the surgery, given his overall poor health (he has emphysema, pulmonary hypertension and other health issues). However, he came through the surgery in spectacular fashion and I’m grateful for everyday I have with him (and with my mom).
What you need to know about my father is that he has always been a star. As I was growing up, he was always on television and people knew him wherever we went. You see, he was one of the pioneers in Public Television (called educational television in the early days) and worked both on air and behind the camera. He was a director, producer and eventually a station manager for Public Television networks around the country: Iowa, Alabama, Maine, Vermont, North Carolina and the US Virgin Islands. He was the Johnny Appleseed of Public Television. He would move from state to state setting up or building up each statewide public television network. While building these fledgling networks, he created locally-produced programming (shows like The Magic Window, On The Agenda, The Teen Show, and Science Challenge), also directing and serving as talent on various talk shows. He also raised a ton of money by leveraging his charm and his passion for educational television through countless fundraising events and auctions. When he wasn’t at the TV station, he was writing thank you notes to donors.
I’ve always admired my dad and took pride in being “Jake Dunlop’s son.” It was an interesting turning point in my life when, toward the end of his career, as I started building a name for myself, people would occasionally ask him if he was Dan Dunlop’s father. He definitely got a kick out of that. As big as his career has been (Emmy Awards, lobbying Congress, etc.), he has always shown more interest in my career than his own. In fact, it wasn’t until he retired that I realized what a trailblazer he had been in the development of Public Television. As he cleaned out his files, he would mail me packages with old news clips and photographs from his career. Finally I was learning about my dad and the very early days of television. It was remarkable. I’ve reproduced some of the photos below to share with you. My favorite photo is the one where my dad is on air reading Winnie The Pooh. The set was made up of cardboard cutouts of Winnie The Pooh characters. Imagine someone reading children’s stories aloud on television – in black & white! Television was definitely in its infancy. Interestingly, after a 40-year career in public broadcasting my father considers himself an educator rather than a broadcaster.
Happy Father’s Day dad. You definitely helped to shape me into the person I am today. I still strive to live up to the example you set.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer