Former KC television personality Fred Broski pens book recounting his unique career

Former Kansas City television personality Fred Broski has authored an autobiography titled “Sunshine, Strikes & Spares.” (Submitted)

Though he made a living in the TV business for a period of four decades in the Kansas City market, Fred Broski was a household name 60 miles to the west in Topeka, as well.

 

Nearly everyone in the capital city who had a roof antenna or rabbit ears could pull in KMBC-TV, Channel 9, and KCTV-TV, Channel 5, where Broski delivered weathercasts, served as host for shows such as “Bowling for Dollars” and appeared on Safeway grocery store ads nearly every day.

Broski was a jack-of-all-trades broadcaster who always wore a suit and tie — not to mention a smile on his face — during a career that spanned 40 years, from 1958 to 1998.

It was his sunny disposition and upbeat persona that endeared him to his many fans — some of whom still come up to him on the street and say, “Wait a minute — I know you. You’re … you’re Fred Broski!”

In his new 195-page self-published book titled “Sunshine, Strikes & Spares,” Broski, now 81 and living in Overland Park, tells the story of how he made it big in TV in his hometown.

He outlines his life story as a self-described “chubby” kid growing up on the east side of Kansas City, Mo., with hopes of one day breaking into the TV business.

Seemingly against all odds, that is exactly what Broski did, plying his trade first in smaller markets like St. Joseph, Mo., and Columbia, Mo., before getting his big break and moving back to his hometown of Kansas City — where he remained for the rest of his career.

In a recent phone interview, Broski talked about his book, which recounts his years in what was a kind of golden age of television.

He said he worked full-time from the late 1950s until the mid-80s, then part time after that. He said he quit his part-time and freelance work when he was 62.

After stepping away from in front of the camera in 1998, Broski entertained the thought of writing a book someday, but never quite got the project off the ground.

Family matters called, and Broski always answered.

“I was a caretaker for my aunt and uncle for several years,” Broski said. “My dad passed away about the time I retired, so I spent a lot of time taking care of my mom.”

A few years ago, he said, his wife, Jane, and Anne Peterson, a former colleague at KCTV, urged him to get busy on his book.

He said Peterson told him, “’Fred, you need to make up your mind and do a book about your career, because it really is quite unusual.’ So that’s what capped it.”

Broski said he began compiling notes, then started putting his book together this past spring. When it came time to finalize his book, Broski said he turned to another former colleague from KCTV — sports announcer Gene Fox, a University of Missouri journalism school graduate who Broski said previously worked at the Kansas City Star.

“I wanted him to read a few chapters,” Broski said. “After he did, he said he’d take control of writing the book, and I let him have it.”

The book was published in August, and Broski said Fox came over this past weekend and “bought eight copies.”

Broski said he originally had written the book in chronological order, but Fox wanted to change it a bit, “starting with the rocket ship blowing up.”

That was a story from Broski’s early stint as host of a children’s program on KFEQ-TV — now KQTV — in St. Joseph, Mo.

“I love the way he put it together,” Broski said. “He didn’t really change it a lot — but he helped my grammar a bit.”

Broski’s book recounts many of the people he worked with — including Larry Moore, Len Dawson and Don Fortune on Channel 9 — and an array of behind-the-scenes stories about life in the TV business in the late ’50s through late ’90s.

Many of the stories — and names — will resonate with long-time Topeka residents who remember with fondness watching the Kansas City stations back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Broski saw many changes over that time frame, not the least of which was television stations moving from “weathermen” to meteorologists.

“I told people what the weather was going to be,” Broski said. “I didn’t tell them how the weather happened.”

Broski was well aware of his fans in Topeka. He said he ran a bowling tournament for 10 to 15 years in the capital city and would drive to Topeka each year to drop off posters at local bowling centers.

“That made me feel good when I drove into the Topeka area,” he said. “All the antennas were pointed to the east, and you knew they were dialing us in.”

Broski said early in his career, he had wanted to work for WIBW-TV, Channel 13, Topeka’s first — and for a number of years only — television station.

“I never could get on up there,” Broski said. “I tried and tried. I ended up in Columbia and St. Joe, but I always hat a lot of respect for WIBW.”

Broski’s book speaks about more than just his work on TV. It tells the story of how, as a seventh-grader, he was forced to read aloud in front of his class by his teacher Sister Mary Geraldine. That experience helped get him used to being in front of people, and he found he liked it.

Despite not going to college to get a degree in journalism or broadcasting, Broski never gave up on his dream of landing a job in the Kansas City TV market, and he writes about how he took advantage of the doors that would open for him.

“It’s all persevering,” he said, looking back at his career. “It’s all dedication and determination. You just stay determined.”

Amazingly, Broski said he never worked at any one place for more than four years at a time, though he did return to places of previous employment on occasion.

While Broski realized his dream of being on TV in Kansas City, he never lost sight of the more important aspects of life, especially his family.

In the book’s foreword, former KMBC anchorman Moore told the story of how Broski once confided with him a decision he had made regarding his career. That decision came as a complete surprise to Moore, but left a lasting impression on him.

“I gained a lot of respect for Fred Broski,” Moore wrote. “I think the moment that touched me most occurred one afternoon in our lunch room. We usually met each afternoon for a cup of coffee or a soda to put the day in perspective. On this day Fred told me something he hadn’t told anyone in the business yet. He was quitting the evening newscasts to spend time with his kids while they were in school. It was a monumental decision. He followed through and Fred Broski disappeared from our newscasts.

“I truly admired him for such a remarkable decision. I never knew him when he didn’t have a sunny disposition. He loved his work and now he was making a decision to love his family. In my eyes, he will always be a great success in Kansas City television history.”

Broski’s book sells for $15.99. It can be ordered at www.fredbroski.com.

Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/

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