TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tv viewers throughout Florida will quickly be shedding a really acquainted face who has been a broadcasting establishment within the state.
Mike Vasilinda is retiring.
Vasilinda runs the Capitol Information Service which presently distributes every day tales from the state capitol to TV stations throughout Florida, together with News4JAX.
How it began
Vasilinda has been a fixture in journalism in Tallahassee for round 49 years following his commencement from Florida State College in 1973.
Vasilinda informed News4JAX he initially needed to be a lawyer and didn’t plan to remain in Tallahassee greater than a few years after graduating, however that clearly didn’t occur.
Vasilinda stated he took his first tv job after he noticed an advert within the campus newspaper.
BY THE NUMBERS: Click on right here for an interactive have a look at Mike’s profession
“They needed to rent somebody to turn into a producer of a weekly present that may air in Tallahassee and Tampa and Miami and recap the week in assessment of the legislature. Quick ahead 40 years and it’s now a nightly present known as ‘Right now within the Legislature,’” stated Vasilinda.
He ultimately took out a mortgage for round $55,000, purchased a movie digital camera and ultimately began his personal video manufacturing firm. Presently, he owns Mike Vasilinda productions in Tallahassee which distributes every day information from the State Capitol on what’s happening within the Legislature for the Capitol Information Service. TV stations throughout Florida have bought his tales for many years as a result of it’s a method to have a devoted journalist within the state’s capital day by day.
10,000 tales, 50,000 interviews
Alongside the way in which, Vasilinda has accrued extra information in state authorities than possibly anyone in historical past, spending an estimated 3,700 to 4,000 days in legislative hearings, or 10 years of his life.
Vasilinda turns 73 this yr.
Past that, Vasilinda estimates he’s produced round 10,000 TV information tales and performed nicely over 50,000 interviews. He additionally has a tape and movie library of Tallahassee information tales with round 10,000 tapes.
“I’ve labored very onerous to attempt to flip this enterprise over to a different worker who couldn’t persuade his fiancé to dwell in Tallahassee,” Vasilinda stated.
So, now he plans to shut his enterprise. Information stations round Florida will now have to seek out corporations to interchange the opening he leaves in protection.
Askew, Bundy and Bush v. Gore
Vasilinda has been there for actually each political combat within the state capital for almost 50 years. That features overlaying 10 governors from Reubin Askew within the Nineteen Seventies to Gov. Ron DeSantis at present.
Vasilinda stated certainly one of his most troublesome interviews was with Governor Askew within the 70s.
“I requested governor Askew a really probing query out of the clear blue. He yelled at me. First time I’ve ever talked to a governor,” stated Vasilinda.
He stated that interview involved whether or not there needs to be a particular session known as of the state legislature over an oil disaster. It was a disaster he stated was worse than what the nation is dealing with at present.
“It was a lot worse again then. Cities have been turning off avenue lights. Youngsters have been standing at nighttime ready for varsity busses they usually have been getting damage,” stated Vasilinda.
Past politics, Vasilinda has lined numerous different tales.
Maybe the best profile was his protection of serial killer Ted Bundy all through the late 70s and 80s.
Vasilinda stated his telephone began ringing off the hook the night time of the Tremendous Bowl in 1978 when Bundy broke into the Chi Omega sorority on the FSU campus, killed two ladies and injured three extra. Following Bundy’s arrest in Florida, Vasilinda stated he was in the identical room with the serial killer a number of occasions. He stated Bundy went from a suave talker with the media earlier than he was indicted after which shifted to a scary particular person.
“I’ll let you know there was a specific time when he was learn the indictment, I used to be one of many few folks contained in the room with him. We have been a part of the pool crew. And there’s a reasonably well-known shot when he raises his hand and stated ‘I plead proper now, I didn’t do it,’” stated Vasilinda. “Scary. And his eyes have been darkish. It was the primary time I’ve ever seen the evil that was in his eyes. You would see it, you might really feel it. He was not the charming man we met on the road who was telling us he was harmless, he wanted a great lawyer.”
Vasilinda stated there have been so many big tales he’s been part of it’s onerous to maintain observe.
A few of them included the controversy over Terri Schiavo, a lady left in a vegetative state and there have been legislative debates over her care. One other one was the 2000 presidential election involving George W. Bush and Al Gore the place Vasilinda stated he was continuously working as the controversy swirled over Florida’s election outcomes.
“We labored from about 5 within the morning till nicely after midnight each night time for 36-37 days when that passed off,” he stated.
What’s modified and what’s subsequent
Vasilinda stated one thing he has seen change dramatically in state politics through the years is entry to politicians. He stated entry is rather a lot lower than it has been in years and a long time previous as many politicians have began counting on written statements and public relations professionals.
“I believe folks have began to depend on PR professionals to advise them than simply respecting what we do and giving a straight reply,” he stated.
Vasilinda stated he plans to maintain a detailed eye on state politics and do some consulting however has no plans to return to the Capitol constructing regularly. His spouse, Michelle, is a university professor and former State Consultant and plans to accomplice with him in his new ventures.
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