GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — WOOD TV8 is mourning the loss of a longtime giant of the newsroom, a man who was devoted to West Michigan news and who many of us called a mentor.
John Arguello died Saturday. He was 61. He leaves behind two children, several grandchildren and a 24 Hour News 8 team that considered him family.
A native of South Dakota, John came to WOOD TV8 in February 1976 at the age of 18 and remained vital member of the team for some 43 years.
He began in the WOOD TV8 mailroom, moved on to be a part-time production assistant for cowboy Buck Berry’s kids show, and then convinced managers he had what it took to be a staff photojournalist. He took on that role full-time as the golden age of broadcast news unfolded in the 1970s and 1980s. He weathered primitive technology, the advent of satellite trucks, videotape field productions and even riding Chopper 8. Always a robust man, the harness didn’t fit him. Undeterred, he held on with one arm while his other held the camera.
His most enduring contributions to the West Michigan community came from his partnership with Target 8 investigator Henry Erb. The local news version of Batman and Robin, the pair conducted undercover stings and parking lot confrontations, helping to bring down scammers and, on at least one occasion, catch a killer. They worked out of an unmarked blue Econoline van that had no heat and no power steering — but, according to some reports, it was equipped with a full cooler.
During his career, John met five sitting U.S. presidents and covered national political events including national conventions and the Iowa caucuses. He knew Congress members and governors and was on a first-name basis with many local politicians.
John eventually moved to the assignment desk, gathering information that everyone in the newsroom relied on and providing guidance on editorial decision-making.
A gleeful trickster, he teased and pulled pranks on his co-workers with a memorable giggle. His sarcasm knew no bounds.
At the same time, he minced no words and suffered no fools. But behind an intimidating exterior was a gentle man who nurtured young journalists, ego-checked anchors and exhibited unmatched patience with viewers.
Though his presence leaves a hole in the newsroom that cannot be filled, his lessons live on for anyone who values good, solid journalism.