Former WSM reporter Howser dies in California - WSMV Channel 4

Former WSM reporter Howser dies in California

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Huell Howser speaks to a communications class at Chapman University in 2011/Chapman University Huell Howser speaks to a communications class at Chapman University in 2011/Chapman University

One of the most unique reporters and personalities ever to work at Channel 4 has died.

Huell Howser, a former WSM-TV features reporter and native of Gallatin, TN, died Sunday at age 67.

Howser did hundreds of memorable feature stories - he called them "happy features" - and later, he hosted 'California's Gold,' which aired on PBS stations in California, Oregon, Nevada and locally on WNPT.

"I think good, old-fashioned, straight-forward television, where you turn on the camera and listen to a person's story, is the best. Television ain't brain surgery. We try to make it more complicated than it has to be. I get suspicious when I see a program with fancy editing and all that, because it seems to me there's not all that much of a story there," Howser said for Channel 4's 50th anniversary in 2000.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Howser traveled all over the Channel 4 viewing area in a motorhome, looking for entertaining slices of everyday life.

"We had never taken the time to go out and cover the wonderful things that were happening every day all over Middle Tennessee," he said.

People still talk about Howser's profile of a 500-pound pet pig, Porky, who lived in a Powderly, KY, family's home.

"I have this theory that when I die, my tombstone will say, 'Huell Howser: he did the pig story,'" Howser said in 2000.

Porky sat at the dinner table with the family, slept in the house and even had his own litter box.

"We attended Porky's first and second birthday parties, but unfortunately, there won't be a third," Howser joked on air to the late Channel 4 news anchor Dan Miller, before they both starting laughing uncontrollably.

"We talked about this for hours, saying, 'please let's keep our composure and do this well.' Of course, the moment I said something about it on the air, Miller lost it completely. We giggled and laughed and made total fools of ourselves for 10 minutes. We could not stop laughing about it," Howser said.

After leaving WSM-TV, Howser worked at WCBS in New York before moving to Los Angeles.

Howser began in Los Angeles in 1981 as a reporter for KCBS-TV, according to his official biography on the Huell Howser Productions website.

Howser retired from 'California's Gold' at the end of November 2012, effective the end of the year.

Ryan Morris, Howser's producer and long-time friend, confirmed he died at home after a "long illness," according to KNBC.

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