Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wendi Russo Remembers Bill Fahey

ShopNBC host Wendi Russo, who co-hosted the morning show with Bill, wanted to share her memories of her friend and mentor:

I have so many memories about Bill after working with him for 18 months on the Daybreak morning show. I remember how excited I was to work with him. He was always so much fun, brought a smile to my face and knew how to make everyone around him feel special.

I'll never forget how he broke down when I told him that all of my dogs puppies had died. He felt my pain and it surprised me how compassionate he was. Behind his jovial exterior, Bill was a deeply sensitive man. Bill was also methodical, arriving early, equipped with historical commentary, stories about a product's background that were just stored in his memory bank from years of experience.

Bill loved counting down the days' til Christmas, starting in October and did it off the top of his head. He loved to challenge himself to come up with phrases that played on the item...if it was a panther.."You'd spot this one a mile away" or "it's a purrrfect addition.." His mind was always moving...It was a little game...I remember playing this game with him with a star necklace, we bantered back phrases that had to do with stars, and when I came up with "And it wouldn't be a 'constellation' prize to wear this necklace"--he laughed so hard and said "that was a good one!"

Bill loved his fans on the set...and I mean wind fans. Because of the hot lights, he would always need every fan in the studio on to make him cool down and very often my hair would be flying all over the place like a Vogue cover shoot because they were tilted too far in my direction. The first 5 minutes of every show would be about the crew getting the right tilt of the fans on him--it became a joke every morning because he wouldn't join in on the conversation until his fans were just right. Sometimes the visuals said that he would often reach for the shammy cloth used to clean the jewelry to mop his brow during the show and occasionally they would mistakenly use it on a piece of jewelry!

When Bill and I started working together in the morning show, it took a little time adjusting to the camraderie of a co-hosted versus solo show--we started noticing that the other tended to have a few catch phrases-- those used a little too often. I kept a running tally of his "Aaaabsoluuutely Beautiful's" and he kept a tally of my "fabulous's" ---although we would rib eachother on and off set, we respected and cared for one another and looked out for each other.

His corny humor drove me crazy at first...he reminded me of my dad's humor, but over time, I loved it. I waited for his carefully planted play on words, his catch phrases and eventually tried to slide my own in before he did. Some of the phrases I remember most are "Sometimes even a blind pig finds a truffle" (if he said something that was very astute or appropriate); variations on that theme were: "Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut" and "The train is leaving for sell out city!"

Bill always had a kind word, a joke, a smile for everyone around him. He treated everyone with dignity and respect. Today while I was in the host room, one of our cleaning crew came in and said he was sad to heard about Bill, "When I first started here, Bill was the first one who was nice to me and I'll never forget him."

That was Bill. My relationship with him was like a father/daughter, a husband/wife (according to Kendy Kleopfer, she said that we would argue like an old married couple) and like old friends who knew what the other was going to say before they said it.

Another one of Bill's quirks was his enormous container of Altoids he would have with him on the set at all times. He was constantly popping them into his mouth, offering them to everyone around him to break the ice or the moment. If I needed a mint, believe me, he would push one in my direction either during or before our show!

Bill's heart was big. Maybe too big--he felt everything in technicolor. Perhaps that's what I felt connected us the most, was his ability to care for everyone around him. Bill had a simplicity of operating from his heart which endeared him to his viewers. They spoke highly of his intelligence and knowledge, but also the TV was able to capture his kind heart, spirit of fun and how much he enjoyed being a host and entertaining people.

Off air, Bill spoke highly of his two children, of their accomplishments, their intelligence, and their ability in sports. It was easy to see that they were the light of his life and were his greatest achievement. I admired how important they were to him and how he put them front and center in his life.

I am honored to have worked with Bill for 18 months and honored to have gotten to know a legend in the home shopping industry. Yes Bill, the train is now officially leaving for "sell out city" and it'sAaaabsolutely beautiful.

With Love and Condolences to his fellow hosts, fans and family,

Wendi Russo

Another of Bill's former morning co-hosts, Kristyn Burtt, posted about her memories of working side by side with Bill every morning before the crack of dawn:

In 2002, ShopNBC gave me my big break in hosting. Oh boy, was it a tough transition. I went from the endless summer in Los Angeles to the endless winter in Minnesota. My new employer was tumultuous at best and "Minnesota Nice" was well, not so nice. Yet each day as I got off shift at 6 AM, Bill Fahey was there to greet my morning with a smile. His knowledge, warmth, and kindness kept me going even on days when I missed my West Coast home. He worked out next to me on the treadmill at Flagship Athletic Club and told me to go that extra mile. He sat with me at lunch and cheered me up when I was blue. And he made my 3 hours go by so quickly when I filled in for his co-host during the Sunrise hours. A friend here in Los Angeles saw my post on Facebook today about Bill and reminded me of the fun we all used to as a host, she as a viewer. Each morning at 5:45 AM, Bill would drop by the set and hide. We would play, "Where in the World is Bill Fahey?". I know this wasn't ShopNBC approved, but it made me laugh. He would hide behind desks, cameras, the set, just to keep life interesting in the wee hours of the morning. And when this LA gal heard the call to go home to the sunshine and the bright lights of Hollywood, he was the first one there to encourage me to go for my dreams and the last one standing with gifts, a cake, and a hug on my last day on the air at ShopNBC.

Bill was my co-host, my mentor, but most importantly, my friend:

Bill Fahey's Visitation and Service will be held at Pax Christi, 12100 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie, MN (phone 952-941-3750) this Friday, April 30th.Visitation 9:30-10:30, Service 10:30-11:30, Lunch 11:30. In lieu of flowers, there is a Fahey College Fund set up for Bill and Donna's children through TCF Bank.


  1. Beautiful tributes. Wendi's had me in tears, with her loving remembrances of this sweet, corny gentleman. I hope Bill knew how much we viewers appreciated him, and will miss him. My heart goes out to Bill's family, and all at ShopNBC.

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