Robb Dussliere and Ken Gullette broadcasting live on WHBF-TV in July, 1995.
Sometimes things slow down in summer, but in 1995, Robb and I were trying to come up with weekly feature stories about his life with AIDS.
Nothing much was happening in the early part of July, so we had a brainstorm. Instead of the usual feature, Robb would take phone calls from viewers and we would go live during the 10 O’Clock newscast. We would broadcast from the office of the AIDS Project Quad Cities (now called The Project). I forgot that I still had this live report on tape until a few days ago. Don Sharp, the veteran WHBF-TV broadcaster, was the co-anchor who introduced us on the air that night.
Being the news director, I went on the air rarely, so it was strange to do a live remote, but it was fun. Here is the video, with the new number of The Project superimposed over the old AIDS Project number.
Please donate to the DeLaCerda House and keep Robb’s mission alive, helping HIV and AIDS patients who find themselves homeless. Follow this link and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page.
One of the first stories we did in the Robb’s Life series showed how he spent a lot of his time in the spring of 1995, volunteering with the AIDS Project Quad Cities (now known as The Project of the Quad Cities).
This is the office where I first met Robb and Beth Wehrman, who was executive director of the AIDS Project at the time. I returned the following week for a story.
Robb began showing his personality here. When Joe, a young man with AIDS, walks in with Robb’s lunch, Joe had no idea we were videotaping a story. Robb simply said, “You’re on TV,” and grinned. I’m sure Joe was startled, but he stayed around for a few minutes.
Robb was devoted to the idea of providing housing for homeless HIV/AIDS patients. Twenty years later, it is still a need in the Quad Cities. Please donate a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House by following this link and clicking on the Donate button on the right side of the page.
by Ken Gullette
Robb’s Life began as a weekly news series during the last week or two of April, 1995. The first two or three stories were shot over two or three days, intended to introduce Robb to the community.
At that time, I did a weekly public affairs program on WHBF-TV called “4 Front.” On the Sunday before Robb’s Life debuted on the news, I asked Beth Wehrman and Robb to appear on the program.
Looking at the interview now, it is obvious that I felt the magnitude of the project ahead, and I was still stunned by the knowledge that Robb’s death would be part of the series.
I also did not know Robb very well at all when we did this interview. If it had been later in the series, I would have lightened up at times and drawn out his sense of humor a bit more. As you can tell from this video, he was more prepared to laugh than I was. Beth, who was a very warm-hearted person, was already feeling the weight of the AIDS patients that had been lost in the Quad Cities. Tragically, Beth passed away from cancer in 2008.
Enjoy this interview from Sunday, April 23, 1995.