Two television news journalists, Carlos Amezcua and Chuck Henry, both high-profile news anchors in this major market area, find that the gospel provides an anchor for them.
Brother Amezcua is news anchor for KTLA, Channel 5, and Brother Henry is anchor for KNBC Channel 4. They are good friends working for highly competitive stations. Both are experienced journalists with long careers of "getting the story."In separate Church News interviews, Brother Amezcua and Brother Henry recently told of their experiences. They said that in the often heady and sometimes tragic world of television news, being Church members has helped them in many ways.
"The gospel keeps you grounded," said Brother Amezcua, stake public affairs director in the Newberry Park California Stake. "On a regular basis I meet with a president, or a movie star, and pretty soon it is easy to start to think you are like these people. Trust me, you are not."
He said that the gospel has also been a source of comfort. In 1984 when he was working in San Diego, he was sent to cover a shooting at a restaurant. He was the first reporter on the scene and witnessed what became a massacre. "I saw little children and women getting shot and killed. He [the gunman] shot at me; it was very frightening. When it was all over, I went home and hugged my children and cried big tears.
"I sought out the Lord in fasting and prayer; that, and my wife, Mary, helped me through all of it.
"There are also a lot of wrecked families in the media business," he said. "Every day you read about somebody in the media getting a divorce. The center of my life has always been my family - my wife and my children.
"I love the Church, and my family keeps me going. My family is more important than television news; it is the center of my focus. It is a very real threat to a family when Dad doesn't pay attention to home."
His ancestors came to the New world from Spain in the late 1500s and a century or so later settled in the San Diego area. He first became acquainted with the Church at age 12 when his step-grandmother, a less-active member of the Church, signed him up with an LDS-sponsored Boy Scout troop. He and his brother both became Eagle Scouts and formed friendships with LDS boys. One of these friendships led him to attend BYU. He was baptized there and served a mission. Upon returning, he studied broadcasting at BYU and later did an internship at KTVX Channel 4 in Salt Lake City.
"My first job was at KSL-TV, Channel 5, and my first reporting was with the big guys, Dick Nourse, Bob Welti and Paul James, the most popular news anchor, weatherman and sportscaster in the city at the time. I reported, I vacuumed the newsroom floor, and I went for cheeseburgers. I felt really blessed and lucky to break into the competitive news business."
He's currently involved in the community in outreach programs for Hispanic youth, and spends time teaching them the importance of maintaining family ties. He has also remained active in Scouting.
Brother Henry is also appreciative of his Church membership. "The Church helps keep perspective, no question about it," he said. "Our business has an incredibly high marriage mortality rate. One of the things that happens is that people get caught up in the job and the accolades that go along with it, especially if you are someone who performs on the camera. People know who you are, so there is a always a danger that you can get carried away with it."
A native of Los Angeles, Brother Henry grew up in nearby Covina where the Church was very small. He remembers attending stake conference in Pasadena where the stake president was Howard W. Hunter. He also remembers the never-ending string of fund-raising activities for the Covina meetinghouse.
As he grew up, he was active in Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood quorums.
"I was directed; I always wanted to have something to do with television or films," he said. "I earned my money for high school and college by being a movie projectionist. I used to change reels during movies in theaters in Southern California."
He attended BYU and obtained his first job in broadcasting as a disc jockey at KOVO, a contemporary music station, then operating in Provo, Utah. Between his junior and senior year, he moved to Hawaii where his parents had moved, and began working on Hawaii's first all-news radio station. "I came on the air at 5 a.m. and read news until noon." He also did a five-minute television news show at noon, his first experience in television.
While working in Hawaii, he married his high school sweetheart, Kay, in the Hawaii Temple and soon after was drafted into the Army.
"I was really fortunate not to be sent to Vietnam. I was sent to Alaska, and during our 22 months in Alaska, I was also on radio and television doing news on weekends at the NBC station in Anchorage."
When his military service ended, he and his wife drove the Alaska-Canada highway in February in a Volkswagen Beetle. "We had a small heater in the front seat, but the milk would stay frozen in the back seat," he remembered.
The couple returned to Hawaii where he resumed his career, a career that later led the family to Chicago, Ill., and then to Los Angeles. Here, he did a travel show and then, four years ago, came back to news, this time as an anchor.
He remembers traveling to Utah to cover the dedication of the Osmond Studios in 1977. One of the speakers was President Spencer W. Kimball. "He spoke how in the future the media would be so important to the Church. He seemed to have such a clear vision of where it was all heading. It made such an impression on the cameraman I was with that he later joined the Church."
He confided that "I have seen a lot of terrible events - plane crashes and shootings. I was there early in the Los Angeles SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst) shootout. In the old days, film was carried in cans. When the bullets started flying, a bullet hit a film cannister I was carrying in my arms and dented it."
A member of the Pasadena California Stake, he serves as gospel doctrine teacher. Three of the Henry children are married and are employed in the film or entertainment industry. In addition, the family, which lives in Pasadena, "has a little production company" that produces television shows.