Don Shelby, the former WCCO anchor and a Minnesota journalism figure for more than 30 years, will visit in Stillwater on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., to sign copies of his new book, The Season Never Ends: Wins, Losses, and the Wisdom of the Court. Stillwater Patch caught up with Shelby and asked him about his book and how he’s adjusted to retired life. This is the third in a four-part series.
Stillwater Patch: Why did you choose the distribution model of going through Dunn Bros.?
Don Shelby: I didn’t choose that. That was chosen by the publisher. They have a relationship with Dunn Bros. This is what they considered a ‘soft launch,’ so the books right now are not in bookstores. That will be at the hard launch which will happen in October. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on the website Donshelbybook.com. Dunn Bros. is providing the venues where I can read to people, and Bascom Hill Publishing Group made the arrangement with Dunn Bros. So now you have a place to read and you have traffic and they have their own websites where they can go to customers and say, “On this day, the author will be here to sell his book and read,” and that creates traffic. People will come in to buy a cup of coffee, so I guess it’s good for both of them. And Dunn Bros. has been working their way more and more into the area of literature and books, so they want to do that more and more.
Stillwater Patch: You obviously look different now than you did on TV, are people surprised at all when they see you?
Shelby: Two things are different about my appearance. One is longer hair, but it’s not like hippy-ponytail hair, it’s just longer in the back. Part of it is because I’m not being paid and I’m saving money on haircuts. And the second thing is that I’m wearing glasses. I’ve worn glasses for 20 years, but I’m far-sighted so the top part of my glasses are just glass so I can see far away as anybody could with 20/20 vision. But up close, I’ve got to read closer to the page. Well, the teleprompter is far enough away on television so that I didn’t have to wear my glasses and in fact they didn’t want me to wear my glasses because it looked too professorial. My wife complains because I’ve got five or six different pairs of glasses that I wear depending on whatever image I’m trying to project, and this one looks like a professor.
Stillwater Patch: Had you wanted to grow your hair out while you were an anchor but they wouldn’t let you?
Shelby: When I started in television, my hair was longer than this, which was allowed because this was back during the hippy years and everybody had long hair. Have you ever seen the movie Anchorman? I mean we all had permanents, we all had mustaches, we all had giant-lapelled, loud sport coats and stuff; that was all true. We actually looked that way back then, and then as time went by, styles changed and you had to adapt to the style because one of the things at first on television is that you don’t want to look different. In fact, I’ll tell you a story. My daughter and my wife got tired of my haircut. I had had the same haircut for 32 years, and they got tired of the haircut and they said “Can’t you do something other than that helmet-looking thing?” And so all I did was I moved the part three quarters of an inch. 1,500 calls came in to the station because what that represented to them was that I was having a midlife crisis. Now a woman could change her hairstyle all the time because that’s what women do, that doesn’t affect their credibility. But a man who changes his hairstyle after 32 years obviously is going through a midlife crisis—he is obviously having trouble with his identity—and then that affects your credibility so they immediately said, “Comb your hair back the way it was.” They let it go one night because we can’t have people thinking that you’re less credible now because you’re somehow unhappy with the way you look or you’re out trying to find chicks. Every time I’m on a television clip, Amelia [Santaniello] talks about it, Frank [Vascellaro] talks about it, and I love it that they talk about it because I know they want their hair that long.
Stillwater Patch: Are you planning on doing more writing in the future?
Shelby: Well I’m writing for MinnPost. I’ve written 29,000 words for MinnPost now on energy and the environment, and I hope someday to be able to write a serious non-fiction book, and I would like to think that I would examine whether journalism has failed to adequately tell the story of global climate change. I’m working very closely with a planet scientist right now, and the overwhelming scientific evidence is that there is a clear fingerprint for human-caused global warming but the population of the United States is about divided half and half on whether or not that’s true. Well how can science be 98% certain while the public is half-certain? Is that the failure of journalism or is that the power of the public relations agencies who are working for the fossil-fuel agencies, who are trying to stand in the way of any kind of serious change. So I’d like to do a serious examination, a journalistic examination, so not a book of stories but an actual investigative report on whether journalism is doing its job on this critical issue.