Longtime sportscaster with WOWT Channel 6 in Omaha
Interview with Dave Webber, relayed by Nebraskans for the Arts director, Marjorie Maas
MM: Where does your love of the arts come from?
DW: I have had a love of music for as long as I can remember. My mother's youngest brother Jack played guitar and was killed in World War II in the Aleutian Islands. He had taken his guitar with him on duty and sent back those little 45 records. That's all they ever had of him. I had a feel for the guitar at a very young age and played it in grade school and junior high. I had a band in high school and got into folk music in the 1950s. I lived in Evanston, but would sneak into Chicago coffeehouses and listen to folk singers like Peter, Paul , and Mary and The Mamas and the Papas.
MM: Tell me how arts education was impactful to you at a young age:
DW: In high school I got into choir and drama. My absolute talent was always in theatre, and there were some real kindred spirits in the program with me. We had a very strong program in Evanston. There were just so many opportunities. For instance, my school had a Ford Foundation composer in residence all four years I was there. I remember my drama teacher, Sadie Rafferty – a task master. She was fun, but she made you work really hard. In 1962 NBC aired our production of "The Mikado" and we won an Emmy for it! We just had our 50th anniversary reunion of the show.
After I graduated high school and went into the service – I went to an Air Force base outside of Tripoli. I got involved in a junior theater there with the high school – and got to be in some of their shows, "Bye, Bye Birdie" and "No Time for Sergeants."
MM: How have the arts continued to be part of your life?
DW: I started singing in Omaha after relocating to Offutt Air Force Base. I played music around town at places like the Swingin' Doors Saloon – banjo music and such. After getting out of the service, I did radio work because of my voice as I went through UNO with the GI Bill. College was great. Evanston prepped me really well, so I really got to spend time taking a lot of drama and music courses. I went into radio fulltime in 1970 at KFAB in Omaha, then a station in Sioux City, still singing the whole time. I got a job in television in 1977 with Channel 6. I played and sang with Doug Fackler at the Golden Apple Restaurant for 4 or 5 years pretty consistently. I still sing around the community.
The Symphony called me 20 years ago to narrate something with them; they wanted him to start a Christmas Program. I've done "Christmas with the Symphony" ever since. I love being around people who are dedicated to the arts.
MM: Anything more you'd like to share about the arts' impact on your life?
DW: Music has been basis of my life. Of all the things you do in your life, the ability to communicate through art and music is an international language everyone understands. To learn to play ANY instrument can help – it opened all kinds of doors with adults who were involved in same thing for me.
Professionally, you gotta love what you do and do what you love. If you have both you're lucky. I have such a wonderful time doing my job and helping the community. And it's all because of the arts – I could have done anything I wanted to do. Having a background in music and theatre really helped me. Sportscasting was a wonderful job, and I had success at it. But I had success because of my background in the arts. Being on television is a performance. You have to be able to communicate with the audience.