Dave Munsey’s autobiography, “Munsey Business” includes stories of his early life in Jamestown, one that he credits with preparing him for a 51-year broadcasting career.
The idea for the book came after retiring as a weatherman in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2017, Munsey said. He wanted to tell the highlights of his career but also about his early life.
“I was trying to show people that there were incidents in my life that developed my personality,” Munsey said. “That is the type of personality that you probably need to make it in the business that I succeeded in.”
One of nine children, Munsey started working at age 15 with his father, who managed the former Elks Club. He traded jokes with town leaders while working in the back bar and gambling room, even driving people home who were drinking.
There are a lot of former classmates, friends and family who enjoy the memories, he said. Friends said they never knew Munsey had an adult life outside of school.
“People in Phoenix are saying, ‘I remember that story from that time on the air,’ while people in North Dakota are saying, ‘I remember that time’ about the stories in there,” Munsey said.
Munsey visits his 96-year-old father in Jamestown regularly. Even with some dementia, his father reflected on the book, he said.
“He said ‘you didn't have a normal childhood,’” Munsey said. “‘You were the one son that I brought into the business. You grew up at the Elks Club.”
The book’s forward is written by Bruce Berg, a former Jamestown speech and English teacher who Munsey said gave a troubled kid some direction. He was the first person outside his family to tell him he had a natural ability to communicate, he said.
“He sort of took me under his wing,” Munsey said.
After high school Munsey went to the University of North Dakota for a time but left to work at a Grand Forks radio station. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and was an infantryman in Vietnam when a chaplain helped get him a transfer to Armed Forces Vietnam Network.
One of Munsey’s war stories is the time a general told him to get on stage and tell everyone to take their seats so that he could introduce comedian Bob Hope. When Hope started to walk out unannounced Munsey stole the general’s moment and introduced him.
The general was not pleased, Munsey said.
After marrying his North Dakota sweetheart, Munsey said he followed her career to Arizona and managed to talk his way into opportunities in radio. Success led to opportunities in television, and Munsey had a career as a weatherman.
When the son of a friend drowned in Detroit Lakes, Minn., Munsey said he was inspired to start the “Watch Your Kids Around Water” safety program in 1980. It was a response to a record 45 toddler drownings in Arizona and the safety program aired for 38 years.
He was presented with a white captains helmet from the Phoenix Fire Department -- the highest honor for a non-fireman.
“Seeing that white helmet with my name on it was my proudest moment,” Munsey said.
The idea of writing a book started with writing memories on sticky notes, he said. Pretty soon the study was full of sticky notes but there was no spark, he said.
On June 19, 2017 he was watching TV when he got up and went to his study to write the book’s introduction. That soon became the first chapter and he soon had 4,500 words by 3 a.m.
“I was amazed at what I had done,” he said.
The first draft was completed in five months and three weeks, he said. His wife asked him how he felt.
“I said it felt like a really good friend of mine was here,” Munsey said. “We were having a ball and then he left.”
Munsey’s book is available for $28 at amazon.com. For an autographed copy, visit munseybusiness.com.