On Sunday, “Fox News Sunday” executive producer Marty Ryan oversaw his last edition of the public affairs program. Ryan, a former senior producer and executive producer of NBC’s “Today,” and a longtime senior member of Fox News Channel”s DC leadership, is retiring from the channel.
“Maybe they will call me back at some point and ask if this old guy wants to do something else,” he quips.
Ryan helped launch the Sunday public affairs show in 1996, before Fox News Channel even officially launched.
“I was telling our staff, when I first walked into our bureau here, there really was nothing,” Ryan says. “There was no chairs, no lamps, tables dangling from ceilings from when the prior tenant had left the facility, so we literally had to build—from scratch—a world class network news bureau.
“Where we were a startup before, we are now a mature news organization, but we still have the mindset of a startup, which I think is good and makes us healthy,” he added.
At “Today,” Ryan worked closely with household names like Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw. When asked about some of the more memorable events that he has covered in his career, a major event across the pond came to mind.
“We did coverage of the first royal wedding [between Prince Charles and young Diana Spencer], at that point I think it was the highest rated program in the history of the ‘Today’ show,” he said. “It was the kind of thing that as a news producer, you just don’t cover many royal weddings in your career, it was a lot of fun.”
While the Royal Wedding was fun, his most memorable moment at Fox News was very serious.
“I will never forget 9/11, what it was like that day here that day in our bureau, and what it was like for the nation,” he recalled. “For a week or two Brit [Hume] and I did a three or four hour show every night, with no commercials, reporting on developments.”
Being able to produce both serious events and the lighter ones are a sign of a strong TV news producer. Those that make it in the business tend to be versatile in that way, though as Ryan notes, one man does not a TV show make.
“To a certain extent, from a pure TV point of view there are a lot of similarities[between harder and softer news]; you want the best pictures, the best storylines, good anchors and fellow producers, and writers and technicians to make something interesting,” he says. “It is very much a team effort, and that is what really stands out from my career, especially here at Fox,”
“There has been from day one—because of Roger [Ailes]– very much an ‘all for one, one for all” attitude, and we just do everything together,” he added.
As such, Ryan has nothing but praise for his partners over the last few decades.
“Brit is the best political anchor of his generation, nobody else is close. Chris Wallace is the best political interviewer, and nobody else is close,” Ryan says. “I have just been very fortunate to work with great people on both sides of the camera who help me. It helps to have really good people who complement you and help you and take what you do and make it better.”