I got some devastating news from a good friend tonight.
My heart broke when I heard this news, and I am grieving.
I worked for two years at KFOR-TV as an anchor and reporter for various newscasts and as the main talent on the 9PM newscast for Freedom 43, a sidebar network run by the folks at KFOR. I came to OKC from Cincinnati not knowing what to expect in that stage of my career, but certain I’d get a chance to work with TV news legends. KFOR was known for that kind of thing.
Bob Barry, Jr. was one of those people.
For the entire time I worked at that station, Bob’s desk backed up to mine. I worked on the edge of the newsroom, and the small circle of desks he commanded made up the sports department of KFOR. He sat less than two feet away from me, and we talked every single day I worked there.
Bob always had a smile, a laugh, a joke, or a memorable comment. Right away–on day one of my employment–he was one of the most welcoming people on the staff. He always wanted to know if I’d had a decent day, or what story I was working on, or how we were doing on the struggling show that I anchored. When I did a good job, or had a great show, he had a compliment for me. When I needed to hear an amazing story about TV’s heyday–he had one, either about himself, or his dad.
There was no one like BBJ.
About two months after I started working at KFOR, Bob’s dad, Bob Barry, Sr. passed away. Along with the rest of the staff, I attended that funeral to support BBJ and his family. Senior was a legend too, and often called a voice of Oklahoma, but I didn’t know him. I just knew his son was hurting, and I wanted him to know I was there for him. After that, BBJ would often talk to me about his dad (I lost my father to cancer when I was 10, so he knew that I knew how it felt to lose someone important). He confided in me a few times during the late nights we worked together on newscasts that went on late (9 and 10PM). We got to be good work friends–good enough that one night during the aftermath of the 2013 Moore tornado disaster, he walked by the make up room one night, found me crying and a wreck, and he stopped to have a good, long, healthy talk with me about how I was feeling. When my mom and step dad visited KFOR from Cincinnati one night, BBJ met them. He also got to know my husband.
On my last night at KFOR, when I was sad to leave a station and city I had come to love and respect after only a short time, I made sure I took a photo with BBJ. No question. My time at KFOR wouldn’t have been the same if he hadn’t been there.
That’s why it’s tough to put how I felt about BBJ into words. I call myself a writer, but the words won’t work for me right now. Not with this kind of news.
I respected him. I cared about him. I liked his company. Most of the staff at KFOR felt the same way.
BBJ had one of those careers people don’t often find in TV nowadays. He grew up with it, loved sports, learned from the best (his dad), worked in the town and state that he loved, and spent most of his life as some part of the Channel 4 news team. Over the years other cities and bigger opportunities came calling for the kind of talent he had, but he never left the team. I don’t think he seriously considered it. He loved the Sooner State. He was home, and there was no place else he’d rather be–ever.
To think of him never walking back into the KFOR newsroom makes no sense at all. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. And that’s why a loss like this is so hard.
He wasn’t just another Oklahoman. In a lot of ways, BBJ was Oklahoma.