Dave McConnell, a fixture and an icon at Washington’s WTOP(FM), is celebrating his 50th anniversary with the station this week.
He started on Jan. 18, 1965 as a local reporter. At the time, the station was an AM operation. For years he did double duty as a TV reporter for WTOP(TV), now WUSA. The radio/TV duo was broken up by the ownership reforms of the late 1970s. Hubbard Broadcasting now owns WTOP.
McConnell has long been the station’s Capitol Hill correspondent. The last from a single radio station.
An oft-heard joke concerning McConnell is, repeated by WTOP News Director Mike McMearty in a celebratory release, “It is part of WTOP lore that while other kids were skipping school to see the Washington Senators play at Griffith Stadium, Dave was skipping school to hear the real Senators debate on Capitol Hill.”
The release also notes, “His career has spanned 12 presidential elections and five inaugurations. He’s covered breaking news not only on the Hill but around the rest of D.C., including the 14th Street Bridge Air Florida crash, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, the 1989 Capitol shootings and September 11, 2001.”
McMearty adds, acknowledging McConnell’s sterling reputation, “Dave McConnell is a class act. He’s a mixture of hustle, honesty and humbleness. Dave lets the members of Congress express their point-of-view without inserting opinion or commentary. He is, and has always been known as, an honest broker. I consider it an honor to have worked with him for more than 20 years of his illustrious career.”
A Thursday morning segment on McConnell’s anniversary had encomiums from several local Congressmen and former Congressmen.
WTOP has put together a tribute to McConnell.