Vail TV losing longtimer Craig Struve
VAIL, Colorado ” Some might say it’s the ultimate measure of Vail cred.
Craig Struve doesn’t merely have a menu item named after him at a Vail restaurant ” the namesake delicacy was a favorite of President Ford himself.
“Captain Struve’s Special” is steak with crab bernaise sauce, once on the menu at Purcell’s in Lionshead and now on the menu at Billy’s Island Grille.
Struve came to Vail in 1971, working as a waiter at Mid-Vail, and spent the better part of a decade working in restaurants around town.
That was his first life in Vail. His second life was in television, running TV8, the local station. He’s retiring Wednesday after 17 years at the station.
“This is the greatest job in television,” said Struve, director of television operations. “This is way good.”
He loves television but he loves golf even more. And he’s going to be playing a lot of golf, in the winters in Windermere, Fla., (he’ll be Tiger Woods’ neighbor) and in the summers in Beaver Creek.
But, as Struve will tell you, it’s hard to leave Vail. He’s done it two or three times. He left after living here for most of the ’70s ” a time he calls the Vail’s golden era.
“You knew everyone who was living here,” he said. “It was an incredibly fun time. Everyone was here for an experience but also to build this world-class ski resort.”
He saw Vail grow during those years. One of the biggest, most exciting developments was the opening of a McDonald’s, which meant he no longer had to drive to Denver and hoard Big Macs in his freezer.
He left in 1982 for almost a decade to work in the corporate world of restaurants, living in places as far-flung as Boulder, Memphis, Dallas and California.
But he itched to do something different, and went back to school so he could work in television.
“I’d always wanted to be in the television business,” Struve said. “I’d been a news junkie all my life.”
After working as a television reporter and anchor in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Struve got a call from George Gillett, then the owner of Vail, asking him to come work at a new TV station here.
It would be a television station targeted to guests ” without any hard news.
“This is ‘happy TV,'” Struve said. “‘Happy TV’ is a lot more fun than covering a plane crash.”
He said he’s been able to build TV8 since he came in 1991 into what he calls the largest and most successful resort television station in the world.
The Vail Resorts-owned station has gone from the old Sunbird Lodge ” where the roof would leak onto guests ” to a new, sophisticated studio in Avon.
Over the years, Struve has interviewed dignitaries such as President Ford, Dick Cheney and Jack Kemp. And he’s seen lots of young employees come and go, many of them moving on to bigger outlets: ESPN, CNN and Denver affiliates.
They do three hours of live TV each day for the “Good Morning Vail” show. That means Struve has to get up really early.
“What I won’t miss after Thursday is getting up at 5 a.m. every morning,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.