It was just another weeknight in February, hardly a busy time of year for local TV news.
On the set for "News First" at Channels 5/30, Lisa Lyden and her longtime co-anchor, Rob Quirk, were expecting an in-studio guest singer Michael Martin Murphey, who would be promoting his upcoming benefit for southeastern Colorado farmers victimized by the winter blizzards.
Murphey had been told that Lyden could sing. So when she asked him to perform a few bars of his biggest hit, "Wildfire," Murphey responded by saying, "C'mon, Lisa."
Without any time to think or to go into shock Lyden chimed in with her famous guest, right on key.
"When we were done, I just looked straight over to Rob, because I knew his face would tell all," she says. "He was smiling like everything was OK, and I felt a lot better.
"Those kinds of moments are the most fun. Just spontaneous, when you don't know what to expect next. ... And those are the things the audience remembers."
One might think Lyden would have tired of the routine by now. She's in her 24th year as an award-winning co-anchor for 5/30's nightly newscasts, after being in the right place at the right time and sliding into the job within a year following her graduation from Western State College.
Yet she's anything but worn out. Despite being on the job since 1983 practically unheard-of today in TV news and working with Quirk for 17 years, Lyden remains as motivated as ever.
The reasons, Lyden says, are simple: continuity on the 5/30 news crew and being totally involved with the product each day.
As local viewers know so well, Lyden and Quirk have been working with weatherman Mike Daniels and sportscaster Lee Douglas for years. (Douglas moved up to the No. 1 role after Harv Holliday left.)
"It really is about being a team, and for us, we believe our longevity speaks volumes," Lyden says. "We have a top-notch group, and that includes the reporters, photographers and everyone else. Rob and I are also both gritty people. We don't want anybody else to do our work for us.
"One of the misconceptions some people have is that all we do is show up and read the news. But we're here by 2 p.m. every day, deciding what stories are the best, what will go when, and doing the writing and editing. We're not hands-off at all."
Lyden, a Florida native, came to Colorado originally for the mountains and the skiing. Now she also loves to hike and bike.
She's had opportunities to move to bigger markets, "but this is such a wonderful place to live and then you realize it's not all about money. I just love it here. There's so much more to life than just your job."
That longevity thing does hit her occasionally, though.
"Sometimes adults will come up to me and say, "You know, I've watched you since I was in elementary school.' That can make you feel dated," she says.
"But when the viewers say they've grown up watching me, I just say, "You know, I grew up, too.'"
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