BLOG: Surprise bamboozles newsman, celebrates St. Jude - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

BLOG: Surprise bamboozles newsman, celebrates St. Jude

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

The conspirators hatched an ingenious strategy in the WMC Action News 5 newsroom on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

Slyly, they devised a way to get a local news anchor ‘television ready’ (hair combed, make-up applied, teeth brushed) without revealing why the newsman might need to make an earlier than usual appearance on the air. A talented young 4 p.m. newscast producer named Kelsey Lebechuck played the first card in the ruse to keep the veteran broadcast journalist in the dark.

“Kontji just called and isn’t feeling well so you may have to anchor the 4 o’clock news,” Lebechuck told the old reporter.

Kontji Anthony, the brilliant and beautiful rising news star at WMC, looked 100 percent healthy upon arrival, but played along as her co-anchor announced, "If you’re feeling unwell go home and I’ll do the broadcast.”

Kontji replied, “I’ll be OK.” She played the stiff upper lip and appeared to soldier on with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The 4 p.m. news began with Kontji presenting with excellence and breaking news specialist Jason Miles providing his highly competent reports. All appeared well.

But then, management intervened! WMC Executive Producer Samantha Davidson, the intelligent, imaginative and intense soon-to-be bride, ordered the anchorperson to the news set. “Kontji doesn’t feel well and needs you to take over,” Samantha reported.

Oblivious to the plot, the newshound hustled into the studio. WMC’s exceptional News Director, Tammy Phillips, was standing there and the old anchorman assumed she was present out of an abundance of concern for Ms. Anthony.

“What a caring boss,” the unwitting news veteran thought. Turns out, she is, indeed, a most considerate team leader, as you’re about to see.

Kontji got up from the anchor desk and moved to a standing position next to a monitor featuring a St. Jude Memphis Marathon image with a graphic about “15 Years.” Kontji wasn't leaving.

The older anchorperson should've grasped the conspiracy that was afoot, but thought, “She’s a real trooper and needs me here just in case she starts feeling really poorly.”

In reality, Kontji was wise to the subterfuge all the time.

Inspired by the St. Jude Memphis Marathon 15th anniversary graphic, the elder anchorman started spouting off about having run all the events--five full St. Jude Memphis Marathons (2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010) and Half St. Jude Memphis Marathons all the other years except 2013 when the event was canceled due to an icy winter blast. These events were run as a so-called "St.Jude Hero,"  the people who raise funds individually or as teams to support the Memphis-based mecca of mercy for families stricken with pediatric cancer or other childhood catastrophic diseases.

Many thousands of St. Jude Heroes run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon and have raised millions of dollars for the hospital. The St. Jude Memphis Marathon started in 2002 and the December 3, 2016 race will celebrate the event's 15th anniversary.

The slowpoke newsman registered for the 2016 race on May 2, the 15th consecutive year of participation. That's why the man responsible for raising the mountain of money it takes to operate St. Jude slipped into the WMC Action News 5 studio as the clueless one was yammering on and on about all his St. Jude races.

Lamont "The Shadow" Matthews, WMC's multi-tasking studio camera wizard, expertly hid Richard Shadyac and his St. Jude colleagues behind weatherman Ron Childers' "green screen" out of the newsman's sight.

The red light glowed as WMC Action News 5 returned to the air live and out from the shadows came none other than Rick Shadyac, CEO of ALSAC-St. Jude, the key individual responsible for raising the hospital's finances. With a wide grin and hearty handshake, Shadyac congratulated the slow-moving news reporter on the 15-year streak and produced a framed image that included the snail-paced runner's image alongside pictures of precious St. Jude patients.

The old man had been snookered, completely bamboozled by his younger workmates who seemed to delight in pulling the wool over the senior newsman's eyes.

Shadyac couldn't have been more generous with his comments as he appeared live alongside Kontji and the guy they just hornswoggled! The newsman will cherish this moment for the rest of his life.

Only St. Jude Heroes and former participants could register for this spectacular event in May 2016. Now that June has arrived, registration is now open to everyone, so click here and join the party!

One thing is certain--Joe Birch said you'll beat him! He's the official starter and begins the Half Marathon after everyone else in absolute last place, setting new standards in slowness, but sensing renewed gratitude for the thoughtful team at WMC Action News 5 and the amazing institution called St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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