By LARRY VAUGHT
I don’t know who is going to win the Kentucky Derby in a few hours and really don’t care.
For me, this is already going to be a Derby I’ll never forget — right there with Secretariat’s win in 1973.
WLEX-TV gave retiring sports director Alan Cutler the farewell he deserved during its Kentucky Derby coverage. The final portion was devoted to letting Lee Cruse be Lee Cruse at his best with a segment on putting Cutler “out to pasture” like all great race horses are.
It included having Cutler’s former co-worker and current Kentucky Sports Radio personality Ryan Lemond in a stall to be Cutler’s “little buddy” and recently retired former WKYT-TV sports director Rob Bromley also retired in another stall — and chomping on a carrot.
Cruse did make it clear that unlike many retiring thoroughbreds, Cutler would not be “put out to stud” — and watching Cutler’s reaction to that was hilarious.
But God bless WLEX for taking the time to thank Cutler. Today way too often business — especially the media — push veteran employees out the door with no regard for what that person has meant to the business.
Cutler worked 33 years at WLEX and having him at Bromley, who spent 40 years at WKYT, go out within a few months of each other changes Lexington TV. But both stations recognized what each did and thanked both for their years of work — and trust me, TV work is a lot harder than many want to believe.
“Hard to imagine @LEX18News without @cutler18! Best of luck in retirement or whatever you move to next,” Russ Robbins tweeted during the Derby coverage.
“A Kentucky treasure. Enjoy retirement Alan. Job well done,” Darren Conn posted on Twitter.
“Can’t get much better …whoever had that idea for that tribute shows how much Mr. Cutler meant to everyone. He will be deeply missed,” @mw52mary tweeted.
Cutler doesn’t like you to know he’s a big softie. But he can be. He was touched by the tribute.I’ve known him forever and trust me, you can love him and hate him all in a 15-mi nute span. But if he’s your friend, he’s your friend for life and no one worked harder than him.
Could he have an abrasive side? Absolutely. Could he rub you wrong? Absolutely. Did he have the courage to ask questions that coaches and athletes might not want to answer but viewers wanted to know the answers? Every day with no hesitation.
“Lot of people like family to me that I am leaving,” Cutler said after Cruse’s segment. “Lot of people I love. I don’t know how to thank everybody.”
You can’t because they are all thanking you Cut for all you did for so many over the years.
Cutler will swear those were raindrops, not tears, on his glasses. I know better. He was so moved he could barely talk — and that never happens.
But as he prepares to ride off into the sunset (I sure hope he at least comes back for the 2019 Kentucky Derby), there was no better farewell than what Cruse told him.”
“You are Channel 18,” Cruse said.
He was and still will be for a long, long time.