By Rich Johnson, FOX News Radio Senior National Correspondent
I spent my first four years here at FOX News Radio as a White House Correspondent and the rest of my time as Senior National Correspondent. To say it’s been the best job of my 40-year radio career, is beyond an understatement. In the first gig, I got to see the world from the White House press charter plane, ride on Air Force One, feel the bombs go off in Beirut, grind out the final two weeks of the McCain campaign and misspell the new President’s name live on the radio.
On the first day of the second gig, I was dispatched to yet another West Virginia coal mine tragedy. I crossed the heartland talking to disgruntled voters, feeling the first rumblings of what became the Tea Party movement. I anchored primary and caucus nights, every Fox-sponsored GOP Presidential debate, watched Michele Bachmann hide in her motor home in Waterloo, watched John Huntsman and Rick Perry drop out and anchored more than six hours of election night coverage.
Also along the way: Three Super Bowls, the Beijing Olympics, a BCS Championship game– with a sudden detour to Tucson to cover the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, a lot of NASCAR races and what must be somewhere around 8,000 two-ways with FOX News Radio affiliates.
But in the past two years, I’ve also watched the process of government come to a painful, screeching halt. The most rewarding work I’ve done in the last few months has nothing to do with D.C., but instead, involve stories centered on the tragedy of others: Superstorm Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Kennedy Assassination anniversary.
And now, it’s time for me to move on to a new adventure in Las Vegas and to close the chapter on my time here at FOX News Radio.
I’m trading in my D.C. political junkie card– instead of Harry Reid, it’ll be Britney Spears. I’ll be pursuing actual clowns instead of metaphorical ones. Forget the three-point margin of error; I’m all about the half-point shift in the point spread.
Las Vegas was never on my radar. I first set foot in the town just ten years ago, and didn’t return until two years ago. But what a fateful visit that was. And my White House colleague, Ed Henry, bears all the blame. Ed’s a longtime Vegas hand, and he got me a good deal on a hotel stay. In exchange, my wife and I took Ed and his wife to dinner. And he invited along his old friend, Norm Clarke. Norm’s the top gossip columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Norm and I share a history at the Associated Press, so we immediately hit it off.
After dinner, we got a peek at the high-rollers’ room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, where we enjoyed Cognac and cigars. You know it’s the big gamblers’ hangout because they’re showing Chinese soap operas on the big-screen TV’s. Then it was off to the Palms and after, the top floor “Ghost Bar,” where the night view of the strip was more intoxicating than the drinks. I was hooked, landed, caught, put in the box and sent off to the cannery. And, thanks to various introductions arranged by Norm and Ed, I hooked up with some folks working on a new website that will aggregate all things Vegas.
My wife, Asia, is staying in D.C., supporting the house and keeping me in health insurance during this endeavor. The quid pro quo is; she tends to the garden and the cats until I can make a big score– so she can quit work in a couple of years. The pressure is on!
I will miss my regular two-way pals at the FOX News Radio affiliates in Davenport, Savannah, Hartford, Richmond, Lansing, Dayton, Providence, Jacksonville, Miami and elsewhere. I won’t miss the 4:15am alarm clock though. I’ll miss both the fun and the tension of getting the latest and best on the air live every hour. You may occasionally hear me doing a story from Las Vegas, but probably in recorded form. There’s nothing like doing live from coast to coast to make you feel alive – or to knock years off your life. It depends on the day.
And, I will definitely miss my FOX News Radio colleagues around the country– until they start showing up at my door in Las Vegas expecting me to make good on that offer of the spare bedroom!