Working in broadcast journalism is a funny old beast—sometimes dangerous, certainly unpredictable, and almost always challenging. While years of experience in the field and training at a broadcast journalism school will get you most of the way there, there will always be an element of surprise and being able to think on your feet is an essential skill.
In fact, some of the most memorable broadcasts in broadcast journalism history have come about by complete chance…
… for better or worse.
6. Don’t Ask This Guy If Wrestling Is Fake (1984)
20/20 reporter John Stossel asked all the wrong questions in this interview with then WWE wrestler David Schultz, who proceeded to air his concerns with Stossel’s interviewing technique by administering a couple of open-hand slaps.
AFTERMATH: Schultz apologized but was fired anyway, and Stossel had ringing in his ears for weeks. He then filed a lawsuit with the WWE (for which he was given $425,00 out of court), but has since stated that he regrets having sued.
5. Melissa Sander – Ultimate Grape Fail Late 90s)
Still painful to watch over a decade later, Melissa Sander—forever known hereafter as the ‘grape lady’—missteps during a grape stomping fluff piece for an Atlanta station and steps into Internet classic history.
AFTERMATH: Nobody knows what became of Sander, though the winery confirmed that no serious injuries were sustained. She left the WAGA-TV station soon after and went on to do the weather at News 10, but has since disappeared into obscurity.
4. Kanye West Bombs Taylor Swift (2009)
No red carpet event is without its controversies, but it was Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs that got the nation talking like nobody before.
AFTERMATH: Everyone got on with their career. Stranger still is that history would go on to show us that this was probably the most tame display of Kanye West’s arrogance.
3. Charlie Sheen – Bi-Winning (2011)
Around 2011 following his forced departure from Two And A Half Men, Charlie Sheen began to start acting very, very oddly. Dubbed a ‘total meltdown’ by many journalists and even friends, possibly the strangest interview (among many) that he gave was the infamous ‘bi-winning’ example.
AFTERMATH: Sheen embarked on a terrible national tour after attracting so much attention. He appears to be taking it easy these days.
2. Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife (2010)
When the eccentric Antoine Dodson gave his retelling of a serious crime, nobody knew he’d become an overnight viral superstar…well, except maybe the guys who leapt on the footage with lightning speed and turned it into a song.
AFTERMATH: Both Dodson and the musical Gregory Brothers saw their online profiles rise considerably. However, the ‘bed intruder’ has never been brought to justice.
1. Apollo 11 Landing (1969)
There are quite a few historical moments broadcasted live that could have made this list, but sadly many of them represent some of the worst moments in humanity. The Apollo 11 landing, however, was not only one of our species’ finest achievements but it was also the biggest moment in broadcast history—a live feed from another world.
AFTERMATH: Putting all the silly conspiracy theories to one side, the Apollo program unfortunately went out with a whimper. The human exploration of celestial bodies is still a tale in the telling.