Lucky Severson, born and raised in Virgin in southern Utah, has written a memoir detailing his years in Salt Lake City television news leading to a 40-year career in network news, primarily with NBC.
In his 20s he lost three sales jobs in three years and decided to try to put his interest in current events to work by finding a job in TV news. The first two Salt Lake television stations showed zero interest.
“The third one, which was then KCPX, Roy Gibson who was also the journalism professor at the University of Utah, said he would let me hang around,” says Severson. “I hung around for 30 days and spent most of my time with the city-county reporter. When he had a family problem in Dallas, he went to Dallas and I got his job.”
A memorable early-career encounter was an interview with serial killer Ted Bundy in a small jail in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
“He was very pleasant. A very handsome guy,” he explains. “I will never forget his eyes, I dreamt of his eyes for months after. I left him convinced that he was two different people, and I’m not sure they ever met.”
Two weeks later Bundy broke out and went on a killing rampage in Florida.
Later Severson accepted a Ford Fellowship, earning a Master of Law degree at Yale.
“Then went back to Salt Lake and I was there and they said they were going to open a bureau in Washington so I applied and I got that job and we also teamed up with KOMO in Denver so I was the bureau chief for those two stations for two or three years until I went to work for NBC News.”
He eventually became Chief Asia Correspondent for NBC Nightly News and the Today Show and a contributor to Dateline.
“Lucky From Virgin: An Unlikely Story” is available through Amazon.