Boyfriend proposes to WDAZ reporter on airThe 5 p.m. newscast Friday started with a weather story live from the windy parking lot outside WDAZ-TV’s Grand Forks studio and ended with an on-air wedding proposal.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Forum Communications Co., INFORUM
The 5 p.m. newscast Friday started with a weather story live from the windy parking lot outside WDAZ-TV’s Grand Forks studio and ended with an on-air wedding proposal.
Reporter Ashley McMillan, who was anchoring, was briefly at a loss for words when her boyfriend, Travis Weightman, popped into the studio with their son, Corbin, 13 months, and a ring in his back pocket.
He asked her to start the next chapter in their life together and, as little Corbin had decided to ignore the script and not hand over the ring, he did it himself. Her eyes filled with tears, she nodded, whispered “yes” and then she said, “I don’t know how much time we have left.”
Bill Haug, a stockbroker by trade but also a TV veteran having done a lot of the market segments that end the newscast, didn’t skip a beat. He filled the last few seconds with holiday greetings and a goodbye before the on-air light went off and the studio crew was free to applaud.
Weightman, the son of Bruce and Shirley Weightman of Hazen, N.D., met McMillan, the daughter of Jeff and Ruleen McMillan of Wimbledon, N.D., three years ago when both worked at a Bismarck TV station.
He was the tech guy there, and still is, and she the camera operator.
“He fixed everything I broke,” McMillan said.
The joke was she was always breaking the studio lights so that he’d have to fix them, Weightman said, and, since she’s left, the lights have been just fine.
He said he had a heck of a time keeping the wedding proposal a secret. “She’s a reporter; she’s the hardest person to keep a secret from,” he said. She works in WDAZ’s Devils Lake bureau and he in Bismarck with their son, so they maintain constant contact, he said, which means she usually knows where he is or is supposed to be.
They’d talked about getting hitched in the past and he had a rough idea of what kind of ring she wanted, but he had to lie when it came time to pick it up. He had to drop by Walmart, he said.
“I knew something was going on,” McMillan said.
On Thursday, her boss, News Director Cassie Walder, went to talk to Haug and came back telling her Haug had asked for an extra minute and a half for his market segment, to do some “year-end wrap-up.”
In TV time, that’s a lot, and Haug had basically asked for twice his usual allotted time.
“All through dinner, she was saying, ‘I don’t know why Bill needs a minute and a half,’” Weightman said of their dinner Thursday night.
Nobody was giving her a straight answer, not her boss, not Haug, who ignored an e-mail requesting clarification, not the director, Darren Lien.
Haug had arrived after the newscast started, as he always comes on toward the end. On Friday, he stopped by to show Weightman the script and give him his cue.
Weightman himself didn’t have a script. Cool as a cucumber, he said he’d probably just wing it. “I’ve been to Iraq twice as a Marine. Things like this don’t make me nervous. If I was being shot at, I’d be nervous.”
He’d already planned to pop the question Friday, but on Thursday, he thought it would be even better to do it on the air. It seemed like it’d be a good idea, he said.
McMillan already knows when she wants the wedding — June 23, 2012. That’s the 51st anniversary of the wedding of her grandparents, Harlen and Ardis McKenzie.
Tu-Uyen Tran is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald