In his more than 51 years in radio and television, Richard has done it all. Radio dj at WEAM, Washington’s top-rated, top 40 station, in the early to mid 60’s. News Director, WAVA, Washington’s first all news radio station. News Director and anchor, WCBM, Baltimore. Radio News Director, WRC-NBC NEWS, Washington. News Director, NBC RADIO NEWS WEST COAST, San Francisco. News Director WBAL RADIO, Baltimore, all before joining WJZ-TV Baltimore, in 1975, where he remained for 33 years.
In August 1978, then news anchor/reporter and host of SQUARE OFF, a highly-rated public affairs program, which ran for 18 years, Richard was paired with OPRAH WINFREY, a young woman from Mississippi to co-host PEOPLE ARE TALKING, a daily one-hour talk show and co-anchor EYEWITNESS NEWS AT NOON. Their talk show beat Donahue in Baltimore, and was eventually syndicated in 19 television markets from Bangor, Maine, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The almost six-year Richard-Oprah reign ended in December 1983, when Oprah, moved to WLS-TV in Chicago. Richard continued to co-host PEOPLE ARE TALKING with Beverly Burke, Linda Harris, then flew solo before the show was canceled in August 1988, a decade after it began. Richard and Oprah remain close friends.
Richard built his reputation for his aggressive approach to reporting. His philosophy, which he instilled in younger reporters, never take NO for an answer. Yet, by treating everyone with kindness, dignity, and respect, Richard became a news icon in the Baltimore community. Because he was trusted, respected, and well-liked, Richard scored many exclusives for EYEWITNESS NEWS.
No one in Maryland television had better access to governors, mayors, judges, police commissioners, members of Congress, the Maryland General Assembly, etc. Many of their personal cell numbers were in and remain in Richard’s cell phone directory.
When Richard co-anchored the weekend news, WJZ was a solid number one.
When Channel 13’s 5pm News was having rating difficulties, Richard was made co-anchor. The newscast became Number One and won the Emmy for Best Local Newscast.
Among the unusual, Richard picked up the newsroom telephone one morning, and spent the next 8 hours talking to a violent man who had taken a farmer hostage at gunpoint and had opened fire on deputies. His conversations with the hostage taker led to a “deal,” which ended this tense life-threatening situation peacefully. For his efforts, the Harford County Sheriff arranged an exclusive interview for Richard with the hostage-taker the next day at the county jail.
One Saturday night, Baltimore Police called Richard in the newsroom. A distraught man was threatening to jump from the roof of University Medical Center, unless Richard Sher came down to speak with him. Richard went to the hospital, chatted with the anxious and depressed man, who then walked inside from the roof.
Richard is past President of the Baltimore Press Reporters Association, and past President of the Northern California Radio Television News Directors Association.
Joel Eagle, Emmy Award winning WJZ photojournalist, worked with Richard for 17 years, and is most responsible for Richard receiving the Ted Yates Lifetime Achievement Emmy.
Eagle writes, “What makes Richard so deserving of this honor, are the lives he touched along the way. He never took the day off while at work, working his story each day like it was his first day on the job. Baltimoreans embraced Richard and reached out to him when they were in need. Richard would often go to bat for the voiceless and the wary. Long after his stories aired, Richard routinely kept in contact with the people he had met, to see if things were ok.
As much as Richard meant to Baltimore, he continues to mean even more to his coworkers. He was the leader of the newsroom, for many years, helping numerous young reporters get better. He helped interns land their first jobs in the business, and always had the right words to make us smile when our days were not going the way we had hoped.
There will never be another Richard, but his legacy lives on in the many lives and hearts he touched. I can think of nobody more deserving of the TED YATES AWARD than Richard Sher.”
Richard received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park.
He is currently the moderator of “Square Off,” the longest-running public affairs show in Maryland, now in its 22nd year. It airs Sunday mornings at 1o, on WMAR-TV ABC2, in Baltimore.
Richard and Annabelle have been married 47 years, as of June 9th. They have three sons, Michael, Brian, and Greg, three daughters-in-law, Alicynne, Debi, and Truc, five grandchildren, Jake, Samantha, Jackson, Lillian, and Alexander.
Related Links: Richard Sher at Square Off.