Don Richards joined WTOP-TV (WDMV) in 1952. Late that year he auditioned to do the commercials on Walter Cronkite's 15-minute evening news show. Auditions were live in those days. There was no tape.
Then when Cronkite left Channel 9 to host CBS' Morning News in New York, Richards did both, the evening news and the Esso commericial. Shortly thereafter he also served as the station's newsanchor on the 11 p.m. news with Louie Allen doing the weather and Morrie Siegel doing the sports. Richards also filled in as a sports reporter in the early 60s after leaving the news shows in 1958.
Richards' national TV commercials have included Skippy Peanut Butter, Kent cigarettes and Endust. Locally, long before he began his 15-year run with Rosenthal's, Richards was on the screen regularly telling folks to buy their milk from Thompson's Honor Dairy. More recently, he's done spots for Rosecroft Raceway, Village House, and WRC Radio in addition to ads in the Philadelphia area and various southern auto dealers.
Richards, who now lives high atop Blue Mountian near Front Royal, Va., recalls when competition for doing ads in the area numbered seven or eight people. Now, he points out, it's about 900. "But if you're good and produce, you'll be re-called. And, that's the name of the game."
When asked to speak at area colleges, Richards tries to impress the students with the fact that three things make a person successful in this field: "Naturalness, sincerity and believability."