“I grew up in the ’60s when women were just breaking into the male working world, especially in television,” says Patti McCormick, former Hollywood producer, now director of media, events and public and community relations for the Eldridge and Oread hotels.
“I believed my father when he told me I could do anything a man could do in the business world,” she says. “I’ve cracked some barriers and achieved a few firsts.”
McCormick’s producing days started early. She rounded up other kids in her Painesville, Ohio, neighborhood to stage plays and musicals, and charged parents admission.
“Our ‘Sound of Music’ production was a hit and sold out,” she recalls.
“We also had Disney-like rides. We pulled wagons loaded with kids behind our riding mowers and staged rowdy cowboy attacks on our captive passengers.”
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and psychology, McCormick worked for WEWS-TV, an ABC network affiliate in Cleveland.
“I didn’t realize how lucky I was to get into such a big market right out of college,” she says.
She worked her way up from gofer/secretary to become a network executive and producer of “The Morning Exchange,” a live two-hour morning talk show. Guests included Ronald Reagan, Julia Child, Muhammad Ali, Paul Newman and Jimmy Carter on the eve of his presidential election.
“Cutting my teeth on a live show was extraordinary,” she says. “The show was cutting edge and the first of its kind, not to mention having women producers. It beat the ‘Today Show’ in our market, drew the ABC network’s notice and became the base for its ‘Good Morning America,’ which changed how morning television was marketed and produced in this country.”
She also produced investigative journalism stories, including another first: filming a top neurosurgeon performing brain surgery on a gunshot victim at Cleveland Clinic.
When she married successful news director Hoite Caston, they left their secure jobs to pursue their Hollywood dream. Over the next 20 years, McCormick worked as a television producer, did promotional work for Universal Studios, produced “PM Magazine,” one of the first of a genre called news magazine television, and another first — “One Step Ahead” — a news magazine show for, hosted by and about people with disabilities.
When her daughter became a fifth-grader, McCormick abandoned her Hollywood lifestyle to move to Hoite’s hometown, Independence, Kan.
“We wanted Aubree to enjoy a small-town upbringing like ours, and be free to ride her bike in the street and park, walk to her friends’ homes, and be raised with the values of good-hearted people,” she says.
She continued to work in multimedia production projects, moved to Lawrence in 2006 to work on Topeka broadcast station KTKA, then accepted an invitation to join Oread’s launch team.
“It’s a first for them and another first for me,” McCormick says.
“I’m excited to help set up the radio and TV technology for the new hotel, and help introduce the Oread to a local, state and national audience.”