I still remember my first appearance on Nevada Week in Review. I was a police reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, and host Mitch Fox had asked me on to discuss, among other topics, the assault of a group of tourists outside the Frontier hotel, which was then the subject of the longest-running labor strike in city history.
I was nervous. While I’d been a print journalist for about five years at that point, I’d never done TV. I was worried I’d make a mistake, say the wrong thing, look at the wrong camera, get Broadcast News-level flop sweats, or something even worse. And on top of everything else, I had to be objective. (I was just a regular reporter back in those days, and we were supposed to keep our opinions to ourselves.)
Well, all that went out the window when somebody or other opined that the beating of tourists with picket signs seemed to be an uncharacteristic response for a relatively peaceful demonstration. At which point I lost all fear of making a fool of myself, lost all concern for “objectivity” and boldly stated that, as non-violent as the demonstration may be, hanging dolls meant to represent then-Frontier owner Margaret Elardi in effigy wasn’t exactly setting a Ghandi-like tone.
And it was all downhill from there. I’ve guested on the show scores of times since that day, and even guest hosted a time or two, which gave me an increased appreciation for the job Fox puts in day in and day out.
But not anymore. Today, he announced he’s stepping down from the program he’s hosted since 1987 to pursue other job opportunities.
“After a lot of thought and much prayer, I’ve decided that March 7 will be my last program as host of Nevada Week in Review,” Fox said in a statement released by the station. “At this point in my life I want to look for new career opportunities, and that would not be possible if I continued my NWR hosting duties. I’ve had a fantastic 40-year broadcasting career, and 35 of those years have been with Vegas PBS. I’ve had the rare privilege of hosting political debates and covering the Nevada state Legislature. Most importantly, I’ve been host of Nevada Week in Review for more than two decades, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’d like to thank Vegas PBS General Manager Tom Axtell for his support and I wish him and the Vegas PBS staff success in the future.”
Axtell added good wishes, and said the search is on for a permanent successor for Fox:
“Mitch Fox is a consummate professional and talented journalist who, in his three decades at the station, leaves behind a legacy of nonpartisan journalism at Vegas PBS,” said Axtell. “We are working diligently to find a new host for Nevada Week in Review, a program that delivers a trusted, balanced and insightful analysis of the headlines and issues that affect our community. In the meantime, our audience can look forward to a stellar cast of guest hosts during the transition. They will provide the same top notch news perspective that helps individuals learn, explore and make informed decisions.”
Vegas PBS — thanks in large part to Fox — is the television station in the valley that hosted the most election debates, not only top tier races such as U.S. Senate and governor, but also Congress and even the state Legislature. The 2010 Senate debate between incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle was seen or heard on 56 Nevada television and radio stations, and even went international through re-broadcast arrangements.
And Fox traveled to Carson City to cover the Nevada Legislature, conducting interviews and bringing back perspectives from Nevada’s capital to viewers in the most populous part of the state.
Before Fox retired from Vegas PBS, he oversaw a staff of 33 people, working in the studio and in the field. He was also the senior news and public affairs producer at the station for 28 years, and produced an award-winning documentary series called Real to Reel.
But he’s best known for Nevada Week in Review, where he served as host, voice of reason and straight man for journalists from newspapers and television stations across Southern Nevada. The show was known as a place to catch up on the most important stories of the week without the pressures or time restraints of commercial television. More than one ink-stained wretch can say he or she broke into TV on Fox’s show, where he made it look easy and encouraged first-timers or shy guests to jump in and not be intimidated by louder, more obstreperous types, such as your humble correspondent. And off-camera, Fox is just as genteel and classy as he appears on-screen.
The Nevada Week in Review set just won’t be the same with somebody else in the host’s chair. Although consummate pro Fox would say the show must go on, it’s still the end of an era on local TV. I wish Fox the best in his next endeavor, and offer a heartfelt thanks for everything.