When it came time
for Val to unpack her suitcase and come home from the road, she settled down on
the Assignment Desk at Channel 5. For almost three decades, she ran crews, chased
reporters and stared down producers from behind her bank of phones, radios and
mics. For the past several years, she has also produced City Desk with Dick Kay.
An astute political
observer, Val was on the job the day Richard J. Daley was elected mayor and the
day he died in office. During her watch, a Bilandic, a Byrne, a Washington, a
Sawyer and another Daley would occupy the fifth floor of City Hall.
Val and television
news came of age together. Back before the digital newsroom, there was film. Editors
used glue and cameras were bigger than today’s portable satellite packs. Wire
machines and typewriters clattered. The newsroom hummed with urgency – rushing
tape to the airport, racing to City Hall, running to another story. There were
deadlines. There was a sense of importance. And there was Val, as irrepressible
as the NBC peacock, often inscrutable, sometimes skeptical, always curious – her
impeccable nose for news sniffing out stories, improbable plots and political
intrigues for the last half century.