Editor's note: I've worked with Mike Hoss for most of my 35 years at WWL-TV. WIth his final day on Thursday, I thought I'd share some thoughts on what Mike means to the newsroom.
Mike Hoss may be known as ‘The Moose’ to many, but to people in the news and sports offices for the past – close to 30 years, he is thought of most often as ‘The Rock.’
As a manager, and make no mistake, what you saw in front of the camera was only a fraction of what Mike Hoss did for the station, Mike was calm when there was chaos. He was planning when there was temptation to ‘wing it.’ He was the ears for those if they needed to vent, the eyes that saw anything amiss and the soul of the station.
He wasn’t and isn’t flashy. He isn’t an attention grabber, save for the once-a-year transformation into the Moose. What he always was – and is – is solid, professional, calm, thorough, organized, prepared.
Mike has been a sports reporter, a sports host, a nighttime news anchor, a feature reporter, a daytime news manager, a morning show anchor and twice an interim news director.
PHOTOS Mike Hoss Through the Years
Mike cares so much about WWL-TV and the people that work there, that you’d swear he was born and raised in New Orleans watching Hap Glaudi, Nash Roberts and Bill Elder and dancing to the John Pela show.
Twice when the newsroom was left temporarily rudderless by the departure of a news director, Mike took the mantle – and, after his 2am wakeup call to anchor and help produce the four and a half hour morning show, he would attend the morning editorial meeting and then ‘start’ his day as news director, talking to corporate heads, dealing with personnel matters, overseeing the day’s newscasts and coverage, planning special coverage and sweeps, and solving problems.
I honestly don’t know how he didn’t collapse, often leaving the office at 5 or 6 pm – sometimes later – and returning just hours later. Many days he would bring in a huge cooler that contained the 2-3 meals he would eat at work that day.
In sports one time Mike was told that the successful Fourth Down on Four football season show would go year-round. The next day, when I came into the office, all of the walls were covered with large sheets of paper with the plan and content for each of the 25 or so ‘offseason’ shows. Mike never dallied. He tackled everything head on with thought and reason
Once he moved to the news room, Mike’s penchant for hard work and long days didn’t stop. One week he worked and anchored morning shows Monday through Friday, then drove to Tuscaloosa to help anchor coverage of LSU’s big game with Alabama, doing pre and post game shows before driving back and anchoring the next Monday with an 80-hour week in the bag.
In sports, and in news, Mike was also unflappable. He could ‘fill time’ like no one’s business. He’d be totally prepared for a story, yet could make changes on the fly. He could conduct an interview on the Fourth Down on Four set, asking a question of the guest, then listen as you’d talk into his ear through his earpiece, telling him something had to be changed. He wouldn’t miss a beat, following the interviewee’s answer with a question that played off of it, then changing the ‘toss’ to something that he’d heard in his ear just seconds before.
Mike was also the diplomat. He’d be the sounding board for anyone with a problem. Mike could give criticism – constructive criticism – and never raise his voice. He has a feel and a touch for making everyone feel at home.
In the mornings for the past several years, he’s played the straight man to the often zany antics of the Morning Show team. As he just described it a few weeks ago, ‘Sheba will say, I need you to do this new dance, act like a chicken and walk into the wall,’ and I’ll say, ‘sure, why not.”
We all have someone with whom we – at some point – didn’t like working with or someone who didn’t like working with us. I doubt that anyone who has ever worked with Mike feels that way – anyone.
During Hurricane Katrina, Mike was a whirling dervish – covering stories, sitting in planning sessions and making the several hours drive when he could to see his family, which was stationed in Jackson, Mississippi.
He could go out in the field and cover fishermen, rig workers, farmers, executives, custodians, doctors, teachers, lawyers and Mardi Gras captains and everyone of them would leave the interview thinking Mike understood their predicament or their joy, or their plight – and he would.
With Mike around, you always felt things would end up OK. You always felt someone knew what we were doing and why. You felt that someone had a plan. You felt that someone cared and would listen and that a first-rate job was going to happen.
The first thing Mike said to the entire newsroom when he took over as interim news director just over two years ago was “we’re all in this together.” Mike said it, we believed it and that settled it.
Mike Hoss, the “Rock” of the newsroom.
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