By Thomas M. Loarie

BOOK REVIEW: The Former Double-life of Emmy Award-winning Journalist Spencer Christian and the Saving Grace of Family, Mentors and more…

March 25, 2019
Column: CEO Learnings

The double life of Emmy Award-winning journalist Spencer Christian and the saving grace of an intact family, great teachers and concerned mentors is an inspiring story worth telling, and reading.

In his book, You Bet Your Life, author Spencer Christian shares his dual journey to national fame as an Emmy-winning journalist on Good Morning America, to the rock-bottom chasing of an insatiable thrill for gambling. It’s a page-turner of a story!

Christian grew from meager beginnings to a career that quickly blossomed into national stardom, fueling a gambling addiction problem behind-the-scenes that ultimately cost him his family, his house and millions. But Christian’s story is one of rebounding, recovery and regaining hope and happiness.

Spencer Christian’s parents were rural, smart, hard-working, God-fearing people whose clear ethics were forged as children growing up during the Great Depression. They modeled unconditional love and provided positive reinforcement to both Spencer and his brother. His parents were curious and they loved learning. And they transferred their love of learning to their children, teaching Christian to read at a young age while instilling a positive, hopeful worldview. For Christian, thanks to great parents, life had meaning. These foundational teachings served as the guiding force that carried Christian into his adult years and success.

You Bet Your Life provides forgotten insights on the Jim Crow south in which Christian was raised. He noted that the Jewish merchants there were kinder and friendlier to blacks than others were. Family trips across the Mason-Dixon Line from the segregated south to visit relatives in New Jersey were eye-openers for he and his brother.

The author tells us who and what inspired him, his experiences as a journalist, how he broke in as a weatherman in Richmond, Virginia, his rise to stardom on Good Morning America (GMA), and his 13-year stint there as one of three GMA “family” members along with Charlie Gibson and Joan Lunden.

And as an ambassador for GMA, Christian met and interviewed Oscar winners, authors, rock stars, monarchs, athletes, giants in medicine, former Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, and future Presidents Obama, Trump and GWBush. In his book,Christian shares stories of many. He also shares how he became very close to Muhammed Ali and provides great insights on the “Champ.”

The double-life just below the surface

Throughout most of his adult life, however, Christian led a double-life about which few knew until he published this book.

He is a gambling addict and in You Bet Your Life, he shares the unvarnished account of his journey into the abyss and darkness.

The gambling bug hit about six years into his TV career, when he was 30 and working at WABC in New York. He made the final bet of his life on January 4, 2015, so the nightmare journey is still fresh and will remain a challenge, as with all addictions, forever.

Initially, gambling was part of a glamorous and exciting social experience. But the reality was far from glamorous. It ended up costing him his wife, his home, his sense of self-worth and personal net worth. As Christian says, he had so much to lose and so little to gain. Why? He felt invincible.

Today, Christian is the chief weather forecaster for San Francisco’s ABC7 radio and TV news team. He has written a series of fascinating children’s books and was featured for years on HGTV with a show on fine wines.

There are a lot of lessons for us to learn from Spencer Christian’s journey, and for those concerned with “inequality.” Christian’s life and success strongly underscore the role of an intact family, great and challenging teachers, and concerned mentors—all of whom guided him through the good and the bad of a ‘double-life.”

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Thomas M. Loarie is the CEO of BryoLogyx, a rotating host of THE MENTORS RADIO SHOW, and a senior editorial advisor and columnist for Catholic Business Journal. He may be reached at [email protected]

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View Articles Thomas M. Loarie is a popular host of The Mentors Radio Show, the founder and CEO of BryoLogyx Inc. (BryoLogyx.com), and a seasoned corporate... MORE »

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