I was saddened to learn, via social media, of the death of another one of the Television Critics Association giants — Barry Garron. Condolences to his family.

Barry was a very tall man; you’ll find him in the photo, above. He’s the guy in the green visor, second from the right.

This may seem like an odd photo with which to remember Barry, but I chose it for a reason. Back then, Garron was working for the Kansas City Star, where he spent 24 years, mainly as the newspapers’ TV columnist. He spent another 11 years writing about the medium at The Hollywood Reporter.

I took this photo in 1984 during my very first TCA press tour. Two networks, CBS and PBS, chose to host critics that searing summer in Arizona at the historic Phoenix Biltmore Hotel.

Barry was one of the early presidents of the Television Critics Association. A few others can be spotted in this photo, Including Barbara Holsopple (to Barry’s right), Rich Heldenfels (back row middle with hat) and Bob Curtwright (to Rich’s right with beard). A couple of Canadian colleagues are front and centre in the shot: Jim Slotek, who I’d later work with at The Toronto Sun and Bob Remington from The Edmonton Journal.

Why are we all hoisting beers and innertubes and not bent over IBM Selecta typewriters? We are playing hooky, skipping a PBS session for a program called River Journeys to take one of our own down a real Arizona river. Some enterprising dudes in a couple of vans met us at the tour hotel and took us up the river. This was the first TCA streaming session.


As a tour rookie representing TV Guide Canada I was surrounded by hardened newspaper veterans, many of whom were still pretty fired up a dozen years after Watergate. Writers did not fraternize like they do today, especially if you represented competing markets. And, yes, back then there were competing markets.

Back to Barry Garron. He was one of the people who guided this organization. I kept hearing his voice in sessions politely asking very smart, direct questions and holding feet to fire — something he continued to do for decades.

In the past few days, there have been many tributes to Barry on social media. I was struck by how many TCA colleagues kept using the same word to describe him: kind. It reminded me that Barry had made sure to introduce himself to this newcomer that summer of ’84. Seeing he was in on this crazy river caper must have helped convince me that taking this time out would not get me kicked out of the room.

Based on the tweets I’ve read, he never stopped welcoming people on the tour, even in recent years when his health began to decline. It is no wonder he was so well liked and admired.

Garron was also a towering presence at the semi-annual TCA general meetings, keeping things running according to Hoyle with his firm grasp of parliamentary procedure. Without him, all hell will break loose. All in favour of saluting Barry at the TCA Awards this summer? Motion carried.

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