Name: Don Criss
Birthday: Jan. 7, 1943
Profession: Director of Production Services for KENW-TV
Family: Wife of 42 years Paula and two children Lisa and Martin
After 36 years with KENW, Don Criss is retiring effective Oct. 1. Criss said retirement doesn’t mean he’ll be bored. He will continue to be the story teller at his church and work with the New Mexico Humanities Foundation. Criss’ is currently studying to achieve the highest level certification as a ham radio operator. “I’ll keep my mind working,” Criss said.
What’s your idea of a perfect day? To get up early, have a good breakfast, have conversation with friends, work on projects that I need to get done, take a nap at noon and work with people in the afternoon.
What did you think about on Sept. 11? I was in shock like everybody else. I was listening to the radio when the first one hit. By the time the second plane hit, I was inside watching TV so I saw the second one live. I came to the TV station and it occurred to me that police and fire personnel would be going in to the building, not abandoning it like the people who worked there. It was a very bad for all of us. A lot of young energetic heroes, real heroes, died that day trying to save people.
Tell us about your pets. We have two shih tzus. A female named Angel and a male named Samson but we call him Sam. They’re getting a little bit older. Shih tzus were originally bred in China to sit on the emperor’s feet and keep them warm. So they love to sit on your lap. And they love to eat. They’re begging all the time.
Who’s invited to your fantasy
dinner party, and why? Alexander the Great. I want him to find out he’s not God. Jesus Christ. William Shakespeare because I’m a theater person and he’s the most significant person in the history of theater. Moses because he started history. And Steve Allen is the one who started the idea of a dinner party. He would have shows where his friends would dress up as Napoleon or whomever and have a dinner party and conversations as their character. He was a pioneer in the TV business. He was very smart and very talented. I love history and those are the people I consider to be the key points in history.
What do you think about Portales? I like Portales. It’s quite. People are I think sincerely friendly and helpful. There is something special about living in a university town. It’s difference than other small towns in the country. There’s a concentration of really, really smart people. Everyone you talk to us as smart or smarter than you.
What’s your favorite TV show, past and present? The Carol Burnett Show because I love comedy and the ensemble on that show. It was a gathering of geniuses. Every time they did something, it was funny. They knew how to put on a good show. I enjoy watching the dramas that are on now. The real power behind TV is to present a variety of entertainment but variety shows have disappeared. It’s too bad.
Do you have a favorite joke? Quasimodo rings the bell in Notre Dame. But he wants a vacation. So he puts an ad in the French newspapers for a temporary bell ringer. He hears a knock at the door so he runs all the way down the stairs to the door and there’s a guy standing there. He looks like a perfectly nice guy, but he has no arms. Quasimodo says “How are you going to ring the bells without arms?” The guy says just give me a chance. So Quasimodo takes the guy up to the bell tower and the guy starts running around hitting the bells with his forehead. It was the best crescendo of bell ringing Quasimodo had ever heard. He tells the guy he got the job. He jumps for joy and falls off the edge of the bell tower to the street. Quasimodo runs down the stairs and when he gets to the body, the police are standing over it. They ask Quasimodo “Do you know this guy?” Quasimodo says “I don’t know his name, but his face sure rings a bell.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult? When I was a really little kid, I thought I’d be a cowboy. I realized that wasn’t really practical in upstate New York. Then I wanted to be an entertainer. I sort of got to do that. I wanted to act and sing and do skit comedy.
If money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place? I would fix the American education system. I would change the attitude we have toward teachers and look at them as physicians. Their job would be to diagnose what kind of learning each child needed and deliver it individually.
If I could do anything, I would... I would fly without a plane. Just to be able to fly. I am fascinated by birds. I love clouds. Whenever I see an airplane, I wonder what they can see from up there. The greatest variety we have to see every day is the clouds. They change every day.
What’s your favorite part about your job? It’s like swimming in the fountain of youth. I am constantly surrounded by young people who need help and I love to teach. It keeps me thinking young. You have to stay young and energetic to keep up with the youth here. The only think you really leave in this world is what you’ve taught to others.
—Compiled by Freedom New Mexico staff writer Liliana Castillo