Winning approach of broadcasting trailblazer
Delano Ingham loves to outpace the competition. As a teenager, he was the one to beat in track and field on sports day.
Similarly, his half-century in television broadcasting has been a series of “one-ups”.
The 73-year-old started at ZFB as a trainee engineer in 1965, when the station was being set up on the North Shore. Competitor ZBM had a six-year head start.
“In order to get sponsorship and community buy-in we had to prove that we were innovative,” Mr Ingham said. “We had to stay three steps ahead.”
In 1966 he oversaw Bermuda's first live broadcast — of the Easter Parade. The moment is lost to history however, as the station had no way of recording it.
“People thought it was amazing,” he said. “To do anything live on television was unheard of.
“We broadcast and that was it. We barely had cameras in those days; we had makeshift cameras.”
Four years later he was at the helm when the station began broadcasting in colour. ZBM was working to upgrade its outdated black and white equipment at the time.
Viewers tuned in to see variety programmes The Engelbert Humperdinck Show and This Is Tom Jones, as well as popular talk series The Dick Cavett Show.
“The reaction was overwhelming,” Mr Ingham said, although he acknowledged that not everyone was impressed. The Royal Gazette accused ZFB of jumping the gun as only a few people in Bermuda had colour television sets at the time.
“I said, ‘Well, the technology is there. People have to catch up',” he said.
Three years later, his colleagues thought he'd “lost his mind” when he vowed to air the Princess Royal's marriage to Captain Mark Phillips on the actual day of the wedding.
“I went to Florida and recorded the first two hours,” he said. “The general manager went to New York and recorded the second two hours. When he was recording I was heading back. When I drove in the gate of ZFB they were there waiting to receive the tape. Now people have hard drives; terabyte drives in their cameras doing things.”
Mr Ingham grew up in Hamilton Parish and still lives there today. In the early 1980s he ran for Parliament twice, but lost both times by a handful of votes.
His parents, Walter and Orea Ingham, ran the City Valet Service on Court Street where the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building is today.
He got into broadcasting by chance. He applied to several schools after graduating from the Berkeley Institute but the Radio College of Canada, which taught electronic engineering in Toronto, was the first to accept him.
“I had a leaning for that anyway,” said Mr Ingham, who had always loved working with his hands.
Plus, he thought it would help him fix his father's television which was always breaking down in the middle of favourite shows like Have Gun – Will Travel.
“Of course by the time I came back from college my father's television was long gone,” Mr Ingham laughed.
On September 7, 1967 he married his childhood sweetheart Carmelita Stovell. They'd been students together at Francis Patton Primary and started dating at Berkeley. They went on to have two children Patrick and Karla.
“Carmelita works at the Salvation Army now, but had a career in finance,” Mr Ingham said.
He was managing director of ZFB when the company was purchased in 1981. He then became operations manager and chief engineer at ZBM until his retirement on May 25, 2005.
That September he went to LaPlace, Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, a deadly storm that caused more than 1,000 deaths. Bodies were still being recovered from the flood waters.
“We went about two weeks after it happened,” he said. “It was something that you have to build up the stamina for. It was not a nice scene.
“The city itself was under 16ft of water. We were based in LaPlace, on the east side of the city, living in tents for the time I was there.
“Cars would line up outside for miles and volunteers would hand drivers food, water and other necessary supplies. I was in a trailer feeding maybe 25,000 people a day.”
When his time was up he returned to Bermuda for a few weeks then headed back to the US, this time to help Katrina victims in Mississippi.
Back home, he managed to stay retired for two years.
“I had a plan,” he said, “but the cost of living wouldn't allow for it.”
Since 2007 he's worked as a consultant, helping the Bermuda Government with broadcasts. Much has changed since he got into the field more than 50 years ago.
“The quality of work is better,” he said. “But the commercial industry is not what it used to be. There is such a proliferation of people doing this business; no one is prepared to sit and wait.”
He's proud of the long list of awards he has received over the years: for volunteering at WindReach Recreational Village and for years of prison ministry; the American Biographical Institute recognised him for “distinguished leadership”.
In his spare time he likes to play the coronet and mess about in Del-Lita, his 25ft boat. “Sometimes I don't even leave the mooring,” he said. “I just sit and look at the water.”
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