September 27th, 2002
By Brian Huxman
Larry Hatteberg has seen a lot of things. Talked to a lot of people. Asked questions. Shot video footage of his interviews. Won awards.
But the one piece of advice he could offer the Newton community at Thursday night's annual meeting of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce was to learn to listen.
Hatteberg has made a career during nearly 40 years at KAKE-TV in Wichita by listening to what people have to say.
It hasn't always been an easy task, he said.
"There are many great people in the Newton area," Hatteberg said. "I challenge you to meet every one of them. Sometimes, all they want is a good listener."
The best stories, Hatteberg said, are the ones that come from people who aren't considered community leaders. Instead, Hatteberg finds stories in unique locations throughout the state. The stories aren't always easy to get. And some people he listens to, Hatteberg said, don't really believe they have a story to tell.
One of Hatteberg's favorite stories was about a man who told Hatteberg he had nothing to tell. So the newsman went to see for himself.
What he found astonished him.
"Pat" was a graphic artist who graduated from Wichita State University and had job offers all over the country. He was about to get married when he found out the woman who would become his wife, "Mary," had multiple sclerosis. Now 25 years later, the only job Pat has ever worked was caring for his wife.
Pat told Hatteberg Mary was in the final stages of MS, and she only had about three good hours a day, so Pat spent all of his time and energy making those three hours the best three hours of Mary's life.
"He gave up his life for the woman he loved," Hatteberg said of Pat. "Pat told me 'I would not trade one day of my life for anybody else's.' ... Every time I see that story, I think, 'Now there is a real man.'"
Hatteberg has taken his featurette, "Hatteberg's People," all over the world. And the one common denominator, he said, is that no matter where you go, there's always someone with a story to tell.
Hatteberg said he's talked to all kinds of people with all kinds of stories. Some good. Some bad.
"You have to be ready to listen," he said.
Listening, he said, is what helps people want to tell their stories.
"There are times that I go out to talk to someone and never ask a question," he said.
Many times, Hatteberg said, stories he hears are gifts to him.
"I realize what I should be doing in my life, and that is listening,"
he said. "And my goal is to make sure that there aren't people on my block
in my neighborhood that just need someone to listen to them."
© Copyright 2002 The Newton Kansan & Morris Communications