I learned the tragic news today that my dear friend and mentor Eric Slocum had passed away.
My mind is such a mess of memories and emotions that getting my thoughts out right now has proven impossible.
Yet I feel compelled to offer a tribute to Eric in some public way.
Since today words fail me, I thought it would be fitting to share words I wrote to Eric himself in a note when he chose to retire from KOMO News in August of 2008.
This is that letter with only a few minor edits. It sums up well what I thought of Eric, how I feel about him to this day and how I will always remember him.
I grew up on local TV news. My mother has always been a viewer and I naturally followed right along.
We moved to the Seattle area when I was starting 8th grade and I clearly remember you were the first anchor I watched. It was a Sunday night and we had just hooked up our TV. The tradition was mom would make dinner and watch the news as I sat nearby watching too.
In Oregon we were local CBS viewers. But we didn't know which affiliate was which here and we somehow found KOMO.
You were solo anchoring the show.
I remember thinking, “wow...this is like network news. This guy is better than Dan Rather.”
Eventually my family did migrate to other stations during the week, but on the weekend we would faithfully tune to KOMO to watch Eric Slocum.
I went away to college and still when I came home for holidays it was important to see you on TV. It was like visiting an old friend.
I watched your parade of co-anchors, weather anchors and sports anchors come and go.
But you were always there.
I trusted you and I believed you.
I wanted to do what you did...to deliver the news.
Eventually after four years of college I was lucky enough to land a job on-air in local news. As I worked my way up market to market, I always thought of you.
Then one cold day before Christmas Eve the mad cow story broke in Moses Lake and I was doing live shots for KOMO.
As we dialed into IFB I heard the producer introduce herself, then tell me,"Travis...Connie Thompson and Eric Slocum are anchoring tonight, Connie will be tossing to you, you'll be tossing back to Eric."
I nearly choked on my own tongue at that moment. It was a combination of pure excitement and unbelievable nerves.
I was 'meeting' you for the first time on-air as a reporter myself.
I'll always remember in the intro to the team coverage how you said my name "and reporter Travis Mayfield is live in Moses Lake where the infected cow was slaughtered."
It was like I had hit the big time, I was a real TV news reporter because Eric Slocum had introduced me.
Then at the end of my live shot when you said, "Thank you Travis" it was so genuine to my ears.
It felt like a pat on the back.
Coming to KOMO I was unsure about the transition to radio from TV. But I remember the hiring manager giving me the station tour and bringing me into the studio to meet you and your co-anchor Lisa Brooks.
You shook my hand and you said, "It’s so nice to meet you. We can't wait to have you join the team."
Nothing anyone else said from then on mattered to me. I knew I was going to take the job.
I've learned so much from you. I've grown so much as a reporter just reporting to you every day. Thank you for your kind words, your words of advice and your graciousness through my mistakes.
Eric, you are my hero and now I am lucky enough to call you my friend.
Thank you and congratulations on this amazing adventure you are undertaking.
I know for a fact that you will be a success because that is who you are.
Be Well – Travis
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Trav and Sis,
No it is not your dad in case the news gets to you prior to my calling you. Love you two a bunch!
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