John Henning – in memory
From The Boston Globe – July 8, 2010
Bringing street smarts to TV anchor desks and an anchorman’s poise to reporting on the streets, John Henning had a stately presence in Boston broadcasting for more than four decades.
Anchoring the news on Channel 4, Channel 5, and Channel 7 for a total of 25 years, Mr. Henning was a no-nonsense Walter Cronkite figure for Boston viewers during a period when TV news became increasingly glitzy, a trend he abhorred.
“Some people think I’m boring, that I don’t smile enough,” Mr. Henning, who was known for a straightforward delivery, told the Globe in 1981. “But my philosophy is that anything that takes away from the job of presenting the news, that is distractive to the viewer, is bad. I’m talking about things like hairstyle and clothes and mannerisms.”
Mr. Henning, who won many awards for his work and was a member of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, died last night at Massachusetts General Hospital, a few months after being diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a precursor to leukemia. He was 73 and lived in Boston.
From WBZ-TV – July 8, 2010
John Henning, a longtime political analyst and reporter for WBZ-TV, died Wednesday night after a battle with a form of leukemia. He was 73.
John covered politics, business and state government in Boston for more than 40 years.
Before joining WBZ-TV in 1981, Henning was an anchor and reporter for WCVB-TV and WNAC-TV. He also worked as a news and sports reporter for WGBH-TV, Boston’s public television station.
Henning covered every statewide election in Massachusetts since 1962, and every Boston election since 1963.
I don’t know much about John and his career ‘post-WGBH,’ but I do remember him from those days as one of the funniest, most fearlessly honest, and highly motivated, persons I have ever known. After our evening’s work at the station, a small group of us used to frequent a bar/lounge in Roxbury, which served passable pizza and showed feature films in 16mm. I don’t remember the name of the overblown Hollywood epic we were watching on this particular night, but the scenario included an Arabian harem being overseen by a very harried eunuch. At a small pause in the action, John sighed and pensively intoned, “…ah….a eunuch’s work is never done.” We all fell out of the booth laughing.
From the first time I met John, and throughout the time I knew him, I was aware that he was moved by a tangible and formidable and inner propulsion. He was tough, and had a vision. He came, I believe, from New York, and had the very pungent dialect to prove it. John knew where he was headed, though, and that the accent could seriously stand in his way. So, John began to take diction and announcing technique lessons from the master, Bill Pierce. John would sit in the announce booth after work, for hours on end, having recordings made of him reading copy, and then listening back, persistently correcting himself. He never completely lost the ‘twang.’ but what very little was left didn’t in the least detract from his forming a career in what he dearly loved.
As for broadcast journalism and politics, John knew from the earliest days that he wanted to become a personality in that field. Clearly he succeeded, and with a style that was his own. He seems to have used the considerable power of his personality to carve out an equally considerable degree of credibility – in a medium where that doesn’t come easy. And I’m pretty sure it was done with his characteristic energy and integrity. John was not a native Bostonian, but he generously immersed himself in the affairs of the community, made it his home, and served it well. He’ll obviously be missed.