David Venable has gone from daily news to quality, value and convenience.
The former noon news anchor/-reporter and public affairs talk show host at CBS-affiliate WTAJ-TV in Altoona is now in the employ of the home-shopping network channel QVC, where he presents product information on everything from collectibles to power tools, conducts demonstrations and interacts with on-air guests.
His regularly scheduled programs include "In the Kitchen with David," which airs at noon on Sundays and at 9 p.m. Wednesdays; and "Saturday Morning Q," which airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays. He also hosts random shows which air at various times during the week.
David Venable, a host at QVC, is shown in a studio shot.
It's a job the former Altoona and Hollidaysburg resident described as "something more challenging and exciting" than TV news endeavors.
"I've always been in love with TV, and even though doing TV news was something I loved and had a passion for, I was looking for opportunities to spread my wings," Venable, 45, said in a phone interview from his home in Philadelphia. "QVC just seemed obvious. It was a chance for national exposure."
Born and raised in Charlotte, N.C., Venable dreamed of being on TV in some capacity. He was bound and determined to make it happen.
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Former area residences: Lived variously in Hollidaysburg and Altoona between 1989 and 1993.
First job: Newspaper carrier
Hobbies: Singing, running, reading, cooking, dining, acting and traveling
Pet peeve: People who say they'll call you, then leave you hanging.
Favorite movie: "Driving Miss Daisy"
Favorite music: Jazz, a cappella and Broadway music.
Favorite food: Steak, macaroni and cheese
Biggest influences: Peter Jennings and Martin Luther King Jr.
Little known claim to fame: Graduated with former Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan
Idea of paradise: A week vacation on a Caribbean island
Best self-description: Trustworthy
"When I was young, my goals were always designed toward TV - either performing or journalism," he said.
The future host, whose first job was as a newspaper carrier, received his bachelor of arts degree in Radio, Television and Motion Pictures from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the mid-'80s, worked for WTAJ from 1989 to 1993, anchoring the noon news, he said. Before that, he worked as the weekend anchor for WOAY in Char-lotte, W. Va.
"I've always been a news junkie," he said. "It was rewarding to communicate stories that were important to my community. Some stories were exciting, some weren't - but it was always important. And I was a conduit for that.
"WTAJ was more honing of my craft after West Virginia," he said. "Being in Altoona gave me a bit more of an urban feel. I liked that aspect - it was a more urban environment, but with a small-town feel."
Charlotte Ames, longtime health reporter for WTAJ, remembers Venable well.
"He was great to work with because he took the job seriously and paid attention to detail. He was very professional," she said. "He treated people well and was respectful, with both the people he worked with and those he reported on. He was also fun because of his wit and humor. He was engaging and hilarious."
She admitted she had her doubts when he proclaimed an interest in QVC.
"I felt it to be a little bit of a longshot when he first told me he was trying out for the position. But I was thrilled when he got it," she said. "He's done a great job from the beginning. It was made for him - he's perfect for it."
While in Altoona, Venable also worked with the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, which he credits as being the ideal lead to his job at QVC.
"The experience gave me a chance to do live television," he said. "And I always had a soft spot for kids, so to be a part of that was very rewarding."
Headquartered in Westchester, suburban Philadelphia, QVC is seen nationally by 160 million viewers, he said, adding the network has afforded the chance for him "to use my creative side, explore that part of TV I enjoy and show my personality.
"I figured live TV would offer me a chance to just relax and be myself. I knew I wouldn't be tied to a script," he said. "It came very natural to me."
According to the channel's website, www.qvc.com, Venable has helped establish and build the network's gourmet food business.
"Cooking has always been my true passion - I'm very much a foodie," he said. "I'm not a chef - I'm a home cook. I like to experiment with recipes in the kitchen."
QVC also does some special programming he finds attractive, he said, adding as part of his hosting duties, he's visited Ireland, Germany, England and Brazil on product research.
"When I took this job, I never dreamed this company would show me the world. But it has," he said. "When I'm story-telling on the air, I can actually speak from a personal standpoint."
Venable also was well-renowned as an actor and singer during his time in Altoona - two of his greatest passions.
"He's a wonderful singer and has a very commanding presence on stage. He was a very good actor," Catherine Anastasi of Hollidaysburg, who acted with Venable in such Altoona Community Theatre productions as "Lend Me a Tenor," "The Miracle" and "Bus Stop," said. "I'm very happy to see him on QVC, but truthfully, it's always bothered me that he didn't continue acting - because he was a phenomenal actor."
Anastasi recalled when Venable first auditioned for QVC.
"It surprised me that he got the job so quick," she said. "He sent them a tape, they called him, he auditioned and got the job. He was on cloud nine - so enthused and happy to be on live TV."
"He had a great voice and a flair for physical comedy," added ACT Operations Manager Steve Helsel. "Of course, it was a benefit for us that he worked for WTAJ. People liked him from the news and that increased the popularity of the productions he was involved in."
Venable hasn't been to Altoona in many years, but he still has warm feelings about the city where he "felt very much at home.
"I still consider Altoona to be a part of my fabric - a big reason why I'm where I am today," he said.
Certain memories really stand out.
"I remember Boyer Candy - they make the Mallo Cups," he said. "And I remember the pretzel place - Benzel's Bretzels. I remember driving to work in the morning and experiencing the smell of baking pretzels wafting through the parking lot. And of course, I had lots of hoagies from Sheetz."
His advice to those inclined toward a TV career?
"Everyone has to dream and everyone has to be fearless," he said. "It's not enough to want something. You have to put wings to your prayers. You have to take a leap of faith."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.