On the beat

A visit from a dear friend puts life in perspective

By Jim Bucher

Sometimes it takes a different perspective and outlook to truly make you appreciate your city, and life in general.

This happened to me just recently, when a dear friend paid a visit to the Gem City. Mark Viviano worked as a colleague of mine at Channel 2 from 1989 to 1994 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Back then, I was a news photographer.

His first day was a doozy. Pete Rose was banished from baseball.

So, off we went to then-Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati to grab official comments from Reds higher-ups and players. During the hour ride, we became fast friends, and haven’t looked back.

We all have those friends, right? You may not speak for weeks or months, but when you do connect, you just pick up where you last left off.

Viviano is now the sports director at WJZ in Baltimore.

You may recall, during his tenure there he broke the story Art Modell and his Cleveland Browns would soon pull up stakes and move the franchise to Maryland. A few weeks back, Viviano contacted me to say he wanted to return to the city and region he called home for five-plus years.

“It’s been 25 years since beginning in Dayton and I want to come back for a quick visit,” he said.

Viviano is one of those guys who never wants to be a bother. I could have picked him up at the airport and provided accommodations at my home. He insisted he rent a car and stay downtown at the Crowne Plaza.

You see, Mark is an urban kind of guy and lived at the old Dayton Towers during his WDTN tenure. And he’s an avid fitness buff. Mark runs in countless marathons and has logged over 20,000 miles. So, what’s the first thing he does after arriving and checking in? Heads to the bike trail for an eight-mile run.

Who says you can’t come home again?

Later that afternoon, I picked him up and grabbed a bite to eat at Brixx before catching a Dragons game.

Mark’s memory is incredible. His direct comment was, “Where and how is Tony Capizzi?”

Capizzi, now a juvenile court judge, was a Dayton City Commissioner at the time and really deserves the credit for bringing baseball to Dayton.

When Viviano left in 1994, baseball was just being batted around. He was amazed at how far we’ve come. After many stories and laughs at dinner, it was off to Fifth Third Field.

I haven’t been to a game in a while, but Dragons president Bob Murphy and company rolled out the red carpet.

We sat in the press box and ran into many of the current TV sports dudes and print writers.

The next morning, Viv was out on another run. I kept pace in the car.

Then, it was off for a quick tour of the city, including the historical marker at Triangle Park where the first NFL game was played oh-so-long ago; Carillon Park and lunch at Culp’s Cafe was a treat. After, a quick visit to the Dayton Aviation National Historical Park and the Wright Cycle Shop on Williams Street. Just 20 years ago, this was a pipe dream. Now, it’s a wonderful place to learn and experience the birth of flight. It was super to show off my city – a city which, at times, I get frustrated with. But in this case, after our tour, I was on a natural high.

We really do have a fantastic place to live, and many of us fail to take advantage of that.

Guilty as charged.

Alas, my 36-hour visit with Viviano had come to an end. We said our goodbyes and made promises to keep in touch – plus, there may be a trip to Baltimore in store for me.

Mark left me with this post on his Facebook page:

“I set aside some time during baseball’s All-Star Break to touch base with dear friend, Jim Bucher in Dayton. Working with Jim had a significant impact on my life and career. I fed off Jim’s passion for creativity and excellence in TV. In addition (and more importantly), Jim is an ideal example that your professional drive is only enhanced by your goodness and kindness toward others. Thank you, Jim. And thank you, Dayton, for being such an important part of my life’s journey.”

Viv, thanks for the kind words about my city, and me. You are truly one of a kind … and Dayton is, too.

Cheers,

Buch

A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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