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Hal Youngblood, actor, director, pioneering anchorman at WKBW Died Jan. 24, 2007

Hal Youngblood, an actor and pioneering radio and television anchorman at WKBW in the early 1960s, died Wednesday of multiple myeloma in Johnson City, Tenn., his hometown. He was 77.

A graduate of Eastern Tennessee University and an Air Force veteran, Mr. Youngblood started as an aspiring actor and television writer in New York City in the mid-1950s. He was a television news anchor in Johnson City when WKBW-TV recruited him months after signing on in 1959.

He succeeded Roger Lund as anchor, hired Harry Spillman as weatherman and proceeded "to give local news departments a run for the ratings," recalled Liz Dribben, a former colleague.

Mr. Youngblood produced award-winning documentaries with Buffalo broadcasting legend Irv Weinstein and simultaneously directed WKBW's radio news department, where he produced the weekly documentaries "Probe" and "Profile." He also performed and directed at Studio Arena Theatre and other local stages.

In 1965, he moved to Detroit's WJR-AM, where he built a noon news broadcast and produced a morning talk show that ran for nearly 30 years. In the 1970s, he produced the station's Detroit Lions broadcasts, featuring renowned play-by-play announcer Van Patrick.

He also worked as an actor, director, playwright and producer at several Detroit-area theaters; wrote and produced radio commercials; and taught creative writing at Wayne State University.

After hosting a nighttime program on WJR for three years, Mr. Youngblood did voice and theatrical work in New York before retiring in 1995 to Johnson City, where he and his partner of 48 years, Nick Calanni, who survives, converted a large room in their home into a 65-seat theater.

A memorial service will be held next Saturday in Johnson City.


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