Milwaukee remembers John McCullough
Jay Sorgi and the WTMJ News Team
Click on the video links at left to see TODAY'S TMJ4's archive video from McCullough's four-decade career.
MILWAUKEE - Memories have come flowing in about John McCullough, who anchored WTMJ-TV newscasts over three decades and was part of TODAY'S TMJ4's news coverage into the 1990's.
He died Wednesday evening at a hospital near his home outside Granger, Ind. McCullough was 77.
From 1967 to 1988, McCullough was the premiere television news anchor in the Milwaukee market.
McCullough brought major national and world stories home to Milwaukee, reporting from political conventions, presidential inaugurations and a papal visit.
Since his retirement, McCullough enjoyed excellent health. According to longtime friend Lynn Kilb, McCullough golfed three times just last week.
Kilb said McCullough collapsed at his Granger home on Sunday and never regained consciousness.
Born in Janesville, McCullough graduated from Notre Dame and began his career in 1955 at WNDU-TV in South Bend.
When McCullough left South Bend for military duty, he continued to work as a broadcaster, serving as station manager for Armed Forces Radio in the Philippines.
He returned to WNDU-TV in 1957 and became director of the station’s news and public affairs department.
McCullough was honored with the Emmy Award and was inducted into the halls of fame of the Milwaukee Press Club and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.
McCullough anchored his final newscast on WTMJ-TV on November 22, 1988. He remained a presence on Milwaukee television until 1991 as a commentator and election night analyst.
"John was a no nonsense journalist. A no-frills, 'just the facts' type of guy," said TODAYS TMJ4 anchor Mike Jacobs. "John had a huge impact on those of us who worked with him, including many people who are still in the TV news business… in Milwaukee and around the nation."
"We miss him, and we thank him for his contributions to the TV news industry," Jacobs said.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Journal Communications chairman and CEO Stephen J. Smith praised McCullough.
“John McCullough was a highly respected broadcast journalist with a pioneering spirit,” Smith wrote. “His credibility and commitment made him a respected leader in the WTMJ-TV newsroom for more than 20 years.”
Hinshaw: McCullough was journalist with 'large capital J'
Former WTMJ-TV news anchor, reporter and editorial columnist Ed Hinshaw worked with McCullough for the duration of his time at WTMJ, and he gave the 22-year anchor one of the ultimate compliments a journalist could receive.
"With a large capital J," said Hinshaw on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News," on Thursday.
"He was so straight and consistent that people became glued to him."
Part of that consistency, Hinshaw remembered, was McCullough's skill for exhibiting fairness about the stories he covered.
"I knew nothing about his politics, what he believed personally. I thought it was a terrific fact for a broadcast journalist particularly, (that people) had no idea what his politics were. It turned out he was, at least, partially conservative, but didn't know that for the whole time he was a journalist at TMJ4."
Hinshaw also conveyed McCullough's humanness, both in telling jokes and the very rare on-air flub.
"Sometime he made a mistake," Hinshaw told us.
"There was a case of a juvenile who was sentenced to go to the school for boys at Wales. John read the story on the air as 'a juvenile was sent to the school for whales at Boys, Wisconsin.' "
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His funeral was set for Monday at the University of Notre Dame.