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Honest, fair and a truth seeker: A look back at Sam Dick’s storied career at WKYT

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 7:08 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -Each day the stories we cover here at WKYT change, but for the last 34 years one thing has remained the same and that is the trusted face in Sam Dick you would see nightly on the evening news.

After more than three decades at WKYT he’s retiring Nov. 24 after the 6 p.m. newscast.

WKYT’s Amber Philpott looks back at the decades-long career of her co-anchor of 17 years and that of a journalist we have come to trust in some of Kentucky’s biggest moments.

For people watching WKYT in the last three decades, there is one thing you could always count on. It’s that if a big news story was happening in central Kentucky chances are from behind the desk or in the field Sam Dick was telling you about it.

“He has been that steady presence who has been on that desk or in some cases on the scene for so many historical events,” said Bill Bryant, WKYT anchor.

One might think Sam’s journey into news was solidified having been the son of former CBS News correspondent David Dick, but Sam admits journalism wasn’t always the top choice.

“Through high school, I thought well I love animals, maybe I’ll be a veterinarian and then I looked up what you have to take to become an animal vet and I thought that’s not going to work and then I love the outdoors and I thought well maybe I’ll be a forest ranger,” said Sam Dick.

But as a junior at the University of Georgia Sam settled on a major and fell back on his love of writing, history and words. It was an internship inside WTVJ in Miami that Sam says hooked him right away.

“I spent the summer of 1977 working every day at the station and to me this wasn’t work, I was like this is really fun. But I liked the smell of it, I liked the look of it, I loved the energy of it,” said Dick.

While he commands the evening seat now, Sam started out as a lowly part-time editor at WSBTV in Atlanta and eventually became a weekend reporter, but by 1979 the then 23-year-old had found his footing and landed a job in a place that would eventually become his home WKYT.

Sam got his start reporting for a new show called PM Magazine and it’s where we first saw Sam’s love of adventure in stories.

“I got to pick the stories, so I went white water canoeing, I went mountain climbing, I went spelunking in Mammoth Cave with these professional guides. I flew with the Blue Angels. I had so many great adventures, and so I was able to take viewers along and back then I would do just about anything Amber, I mean really would, I flew with a guy with an experimental plane I never would do that now,” said Dick.

At 25, Sam left for the Big Apple in New York City, he had a stint in Orlando, but in 1987 he returned to WKYT to replace the anchor chair left by John Lindgren.

He was just 31, but he credits a station grounded in good community journalism and his colleagues for helping him establish what would become a successful 34-year journey as evening news anchor.

“It helped that I joined an anchor team that was established, and they accepted me. Barbara was the co-anchor, Brad James was weather and very popular and Rob Bromley very popular doing sports and so they welcomed me with open arms even though I had very little experience and I had to learn on the job,” said Dick.

For Sam the job wasn’t just behind the news desk, it was also a job that took him many times into the field. His love of reporting noted and respected among his colleagues including longtime co-anchor Barbara Bailey.

“Whenever there was a huge story in the works Sam runs toward it, he would be the first person to call in and say oh I want to be out in the field covering that I want to be right there,” said Barbara Bailey, former WKYT news anchor.

One story that still resonates is perhaps one of central Kentucky’s toughest moments the crash of Comair Flight 5191.

“I heard so many people from the community say it was comforting to have people that they knew. Sam, who they could trust and he was right there to tell them the story, to share news that people really didn’t want to hear, but he did it in a very compassionate way,” said Bailey.

Fair, honest, and a truth seeker. Those are words many of us can use to describe a journalist that in more ways than one has made all of us here at WKYT better for just being alongside him.

“I’m blessed, I’m very, very, very blessed. I mean so blessed to be with people that do a good job and I’ve always thought it really is a team thing. This isn’t me by myself, I’m not successful because of just me, there are so many other people, some that are gone now forever that have been a part of that journey and I’m just very thankful,” said Dick.

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