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2015-2018 (current)

News and Recollections 2015-2018
News and Recollections 2012-2014
News and Recollections 2009-2011
News and Recollections 2008
News and Recollections 2007
News and Recollections 2006
News and Recollections 2005

News, recollections, and comments from Newsradio88 staffers, ex-staffers, listeners, fans.

To contribute please email:
Don Swaim


- DICK HELTON, 7/25/17. KNX, Los Angeles. Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your website keeping track of the WCBS tradition. I check in occasionally, but perhaps not often enough. I've been around long enough (first day reporting at WBBM was February 10, 1969 under the guidance of Van Gordon Sauter) so I know, or have known of, many of the people on which you have reported over the years. Good memories of good times from the early days of all news to the present. Thanks again for your work.
Dick Helton
Morning Show Host and Senior Political Correspondent
KNX-CBS Radio, 1070 AM

FORMER NEWSRADIO 88 PRODUCER JERRY LEVIN FINDS SOLACE IN OPERA AND FAITH


Jerry Levin


Opera News Sep. 1985
click to read


click to access

Fidelio is Beethoven's only opera, the story of a faithful wife who rescues her husband from a political prison. "Fidelio is my story," said Jerry Levin, ex-WCBS, in 1985 shortly after his miraculous escape from Muslim extremist hostage-takers in Lebanon. Almost an opera story, Jerry's wife, Sis, crisscrossed the Mideast seeking her husband's release. The drama was made into a TV movie, Held Hostage, with Marlo Thomas as Sis and David Dukes as Jerry.

Jerry says he treasures an article about him in the September 1985 issue of Opera News titled "To Freedom," in which Jerry compares Sis to Beethoven's Leonore and himself to Florestan.

After graduating from Northwestern, Jerry joined WCBS as a producer in 1967, where his hyperkinetic newsroom style involved wielding a ruler like a riding crop.

Following stints in Birmingham and Houston, he went to CNN, where he became chief of the cable channel's Beirut Bureau, leading to his capture by Hezbollah gunmen.

In captivity and in isolation for eleven months, Jerry played opera games in his mind while experiencing a spiritual reawakening.

Sis Levin's book, Beirut Diary, describes Jerry's captivity and her efforts to gain his freedom.

Currently, Jerry lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he and his wife are involved in educational efforts to achieve peace through non-violence. And Jerry has not lost his love for opera. (--DS)

Jerry's email: jlevin0320@yahoo.com



HARVEY HAUPTMAN

Respected, retired anchor, sportscaster, and newswriter Harvey Hauptman died on August 2, 2017, at the age of 87. Harvey was one of the members of the inaugural staff of WCBS as it became an all-news operation in 1967. But his tenure began well before as a newswriter for the afternoon news broadcast "Up to the Minute," anchored by Kenneth Banghart. Harvey, an enthusiastic Rutgers booster, later became a sportscaster for the station, and then a news anchor.

A touching funeral service was conducted at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which was lived streamed. The temple has archived the service, which can be viewed here: HERE

Photo (above) of Harvey at the typewriter in the old WCBS newsroom on Madison Avenue in the early 1960s. Also seated is Ken Banghart, afternoon news anchor. Standing in the white shirt is another WCBS News staffer James L. Brooks, later film director and creator of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

READ THE MANY TRIBUTES TO HARVEY HERE

Harvey's memories about his early days at WCBS
can be read HERE



MARY ELLEN PORRAZZO

Long-time newswriter, editor, and producer, Mary Ellen Porrazzo, after leaving WCBS, taught journalism at Hofstra University on Long Island. She died on February 10, 2017. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, she was 65. Mary Ellen was also a poet. Here are two of her poems:

Chaos, confusion
Self-importance
Delusion

Blaring bands
Frozen smiles
In the heat

Mary Ellen's obituary can be found HERE




Long-time WCBS Connecticut stringer Fran Schneidau retires
click to enlarge


MARTY DUSKIN

Marty, beloved long-time WCBS news producer, died in New Jersey on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. He rose from the ranks of the newspaper business to work afternoon drive for many years.


This undated photo shows Marty at the producer's desk in the pre-computer era, as evidenced by the so-called "Christmas Tree" on the right, which held wire copy of the currently working stories.

AN APPRECIATION by Bob Gibson plus Other Tributes
HERE

Obituary in The Asbury Park Press


New York Press Club Hall of Famer:
IRENE CORNELL


Irene, Steve

From Steve Scott, WCBS:

As president of the New York Press Club, I had the honor of inducting my WCBS Newsradio 880 colleague, Irene Cornell, into the New York Journalism Hall of Fame. It happened October 29, 2016, at the New York Press Club Foundation Conference on Journalism at New York University.

Irene has covered many of the biggest court trials of the past 50+ years...from OJ to Gotti [New York mob figure]. She told of how a Gotti goon once tried to intimidate her because "Mr. Gotti doesn't like what you're reporting." Irene never backed down, and got a "wink" from Gotti at the conclusion of his final trial.

With courtroom audio and video recording prohibited for much of her career, Irene has relied on only her words to tell her stories. Through her unparalleled writing and delivery, Irene has given New Yorkers a front row seat to more than a half century of riveting trials.

Irene Cornell is a New York treasure.

I also had the pleasure of presenting the New York Press Club's President's Award (posthumously) to our late Consulting Director, Peter O.E. Bekker [formerly of WCBS]. Peter's family has started the Peter O.E. Bekker Memorial Scholarship Fund through the New York Press Club Foundation. These scholarships will assist the next generation of journalists, for whom Peter cared so deeply.


WCBS VETERANS GATHER AT KEEN'S CHOP HOUSE

From right to left: Bob Gibson, Mervin Block, Melissa Ludlum [widow of former News Director Mike Ludlum], Jerry Levin [former PM drive producer], Sis Levin. Oct. 17, 2016, New York City.



- PHIL SIRKIN, 8/23/16. Former News Director, WEEI, Boston. A memory popped into my head earlier this evening and made me think: "I wonder if Dick Spencer is still at 88, or if he's retired by now?" I did an online search, came across your site, and was devastated to learn of his illness and passing a few years ago.
Dick and I were colleagues at the old WEEI in Boston during the '70s. I can still remember how thrilled he was when he learned he'd been hired at WCBS - even though he was never the type to jump for joy, his excitement and pride was clear. He was still young, of course, but it was his life's dream to work at Newsradio 88. I remember his outstanding writing and editing skills, naturally, as well as his professionalism. There was no one else I would want writing or on the desk during a crisis. But what I remember more was his wry and subversive sense of humor. After one of the station's nattily-dressed salesmen strutted through the newsroom with an air of disdain, Dick would switch into self-assured mode and confidently stride across the room with a fake smile and firmly shake my hand: "Hi, Dick Spencer, Sales."

One night, he came to visit me at another station where I worked part-time as a producer (we made far below union scale at 'EEI and many of us had second and third jobs). The other station was #1 in the market, and its offices and studios had the fancy decor, equipment and accoutrements to match its ratings. The following morning when I showed up at the grey, shabby, rundown 'EEI newsroom to relieve him on the desk, he had taped hand-drawn pictures of plants and artwork above the folders and cart racks. His answer to my unspoken question: "I just wanted you to feel at home."

It sounds like he had a full and satisfying life before his accident and illness. I'm sorry we fell out of touch and I'm still shaken to learn of his passing, but I'm glad to know he spent almost his whole career where he wanted to be his entire life: working mornings at 88. (I had already heard about Mike Ludlum's passing and was saddened by it; he was my first news director and I remember him fondly. I appreciated being able to read the remembrances others had posted.) Thanks so much for providing your site as a resource and forum - even those of us who spent our careers 250 miles to the north remember many of the great people from WCBS.

Phil Sirkin
Writer/Editor, WEEI, 1974-1979
News Director, WEEI, 1989-1991

PS I saw a reference to the fact that Peggy Noonan mentioned Dick's work at 'EEI in her first book. When I read the book many years ago, I remember thinking how wonderful it was that she specifically included him; he deserved it. I wasn't overly surprised, though, since a lot of bonds were formed during those years - and everyone loved Dick. (And Peggy remembers those bonds. I ran into her at a WH correspondent's dinner while she was still working with Rather, many years after we'd last seen each other. She ran up to me, gave me a huge hug and dragged me into the CBS reception, introducing me as "a CBSer" even though I'd been at the competition for years.)

- ALEXANDRA BENNETT CANNADY, 7/11/16. Former WCBS staffer. I was a kid working at WCBS-AM in the late '80s and reading about the passing of Mike Ludlum left a knot in my throat. I vividly recall a conversation with him... (cue flashback sequence) :
Mike: Alexandra, you're never going to make it in this business.
Me: Bu, but Mike why? (I was devastated.)
Mike: You don't smoke and you don't drink coffee. Two things you need to do to survive in this line of work.
I was just a kid, a sales/research assistant and Mike was always there with words of wisdom, and to give me an opportunity to gain experience in production when one arose. I raise a toast to him. As well as Agnes Green and James McQuade. And seeing the photos of Art Athens and GiGi Birdas and Rona Landy -- WOW. Thank you for this site. Best, Alexandra


PETER O. E. BEKKER

photo of Peter Bekker by Rita Sands

Rich Lamb [WCBS Reporter] asked me to let you know that our friend and colleague, Peter O. E. Bekker [WCBS writer-producer], died after a long battle with brain cancer. We will miss Peter's sharp wit -- remember his feature, "On Record?" -- and his refusal to suffer fools gladly. I'm told there will be a notice in the Times. He was 62. In recent years Peter had been the consulting director of the New York Press Club, putting us on the web, maintaining our site, and managing our very successful awards competition. Press Club president, Steve Scott, wrote an excellent tribute on the NYPC page. --Jane Tillman Irving

A TRIBUTE
by Rich Lamb

Just after sunset on Lake Champlain, on an outdoor wooden deck in Vermont, surrounded by family and friends, Peter Otto Eric Bekker, Jr., aged 62, died peacefully at 8:50 PM on Friday, August 5, 2016, the culmination of a valiant three and a half year battle with brain cancer. Mr. Bekker was a central figure in the New York Press Club, where he held the title of Consulting Director. He was renowned for his innovations on the club's web site, including his digitalization of what had been a cumbersome method for the entry and judging of its journalism awards. Mr. Bekker's system worked to the great advantage of the Press Club, and was the object of imitation by other august organizations which honor journalistic achievements.

Mr. Bekker was an articulate defender of the first amendment, an author, a news writer and an editor whose sentences, both spoken and written, were justly famous for their clarity and ascerbic wit. Mr. Bekker wrote endless reams of newscopy for WCBS Newsradio 880 in New York City from 1975 to 1989. He also broadcast a feature of contemporary music criticism on WCBS titled Peter Bekker, On Record. He was the author of four books about music, on topics ranging from Gospel, to Jazz, to Country and the Baroque Period. Between his work as a writer and broadcaster at WCBS, and his tenure at the New York Press Club, he worked on an encyclopedia project at the Microsoft Corporation in Washington State.

_________________________


RETIRED WCBS ANCHOR BILL FAHAN DEAD

An Appreciation

by Bob Gibson
Bill Fahan was the kind of man who never had a problem making himself heard. At least not in the nearly twenty years we knew one another at New York's WCBS NewsRadio88. As anchors at the all-news station we reported our share of tragic and happy stories and yet the former always seem to outweigh everything else. Bill, who was much loved and respected by his family away from home, sadly passed away early Thursday morning, June 23, at his Pearl River, New York, residence at 82.

Bill's daughter, Robin, told me that her dad had been in failing health for several months and really deteriorated last week. Without offering any specifics, Robin goes on to say that "we are thankful that this did not drag on and on and that her father is finally without pain and at peace."

More than one of my friends and Bill's former colleagues have accurately described him as a nice man and a talented man. He knew his craft and when and how to ask the pertinent and difficult questions in the midst of breaking stories when many of us didn't know what would happen next. Bill was also a fun-loving guy with a gift for gab who for quite some time attended our twice-a-year broadcasters' luncheons in New Jersey with his lovely wife, Joyce. Many of us had not seen him in a few years because as I was told by his wife, his arthritic knees made it very difficult to walk. I had paid the Fahans a visit now and then when I'd be in the metropolitan area and did so again last year when the above photo was snapped.

For those who are wondering and per Bill's wishes, there will be no funeral nor memorial service as he wanted his ashes scattered over some body of water. The water, incidentally, was a second passion because of his love for his boat which he kept docked not far from his Rockland County home. I never sailed with Bill but good friend Don Swaim, another WCBS alum, had, and reminded me that despite his affinity for getting out on the water, Bill could not swim. But as I understand it, he never shrank from the task to spend a nice day in a nice way with family and his friends on the Hudson.



As friendly and out-going as they come, Bill had a colorful 27-year career at WCBS following TV and radio assignments in middle America, including at KMSP Television, Channel 9 in Minneapolis, where he was the lead news anchor. Bill's was a smooth and rich, bass voice that commanded attention. A former colleague at CBS, Michael Kahn, many years ago in commenting for a New York Daily News story about his favorite radio station while growing up, listed a number of the then-anchors at WCBS in the 1970s and made it a point to say "That whenever the end of the world comes, he wants to hear it reported by Bill Fahan!" Indeed, he had that kind of authoritative voice.

Heartfelt condolences to Bill's beloved wife, Joyce, his daughter, Robin, son, Terry, and the other Fahans whom I've unintentionally overlooked!




- BOB KETCHERSID, 4/4/16. Former WCBS desk assistant.
I just happened to stumble across your fascinating WCBS Web page this afternoon. It brought back many memories. I was one of three Ohio State University students who took part in the first CBS Graduate Assistantship program in 1965. As part of the program, I spent six months working as a desk assistant at WCBS Radio in 1965. I worked alongside such folks as Steve Flanders, Lou Adler, Joe Dembo, and many others. I noticed that Harvey Hauptman had written about Pat Summerall. That brings back some memories. In 1965, Pat did a sports call-in show on WCBS. One of my assignments was to be his call screener. In those days, the seven second delay was obtained by threading the tape from one Ampex machine which recorded the audio and looping the tape over to a second Ampex for the playback.

I also had the opportunity to accompany Steve Flanders on many of his news assignments, including riding in a ticker tape parade for returning astronauts and opening day of year number two of the New York World's Fair. One of the best things Steve taught me was on those assignments that involved waiting, he said "find a telephone you can use" and find a seat so you can sit down. I went on to become news director at WSB Radio in Atlanta, and now own my own station in Athens, Tennessee.

- HOWARD LULOFF, 1/10/16. WCBS listener. I grew up in New Jersey in the 60s and early 70s before moving to Minnesota in 1972, and I remember hearing the station riding in the car with my parents. One phrase that comes to mind is "Here's The Weather Picture for New York City and vicinity." How long did the station use that phrase? The Weather Picture comes up in conversation when checking the weather on my phone for my girlfriend. You really put together a historical flashback to the early days and highlights of WCBS-AM. Thanks, Howard Luloff

- JIM B. MORRIS, 1/9/16. Former WCBS newswriter.
I just visited the WCBS appreciation site after a long absence. There were several deaths I did not know about, Allegra Branson among them. At work, we joked about sharing the same birthday (January 2), but I lost touch with Allegra a long time ago. All I knew, from your site, was that she was ill. I was unaware that she passed away in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Ironically, that's not far from where I lived and worked before joining News 88 in late 1975.

In the late 70's, Allegra took me to the Metropolitan Opera and got us backstage where I met singer James Morris (yes, same name), who was performing the lead in Don Giovianni. Meeting a famous person with "my" name was a kick. Allegra made it happen. By the way, just below the post about Allegra is a picture that says "circa" 1980. It is indeed that year. I still have that t-shirt (somewhere). I'm in the back row, on the right, my face partially obscured by M. David Levin's curly locks.

Your site is fantastic ‹ lost memories found. Best wishes from Atlanta (where I've been since 1990). Jim B. Morris
- STEVEN ELIAS, 12/14/15. Long-time WCBS listener.
I remember listening to Newsradio 88 on car trips to NY with my dad in the 70s and 80s. I remember listening to anchors like Bill Fahan, Pat Parson and Ben Farnsworth doing drive time. Did Craig Allen do weather back in the day? I grew up and live in Rhode Island where WCBS comes in very well. I also remember news reporters, Doug Spiro, Irene Cornell, and Fran Schneidau. I enjoyed the old classic WCBS news and traffic sounders from back in the day.

> I also remember the CBS all news radio stations in other major cities, using the the same sounder going into their headlines. One such outlet, WEEI Newsradio 59 in Boston did so in the 70s and 80s.

There was also another sounder that was used somewhere in the bottom of the hour (15 and 45) after local weather was given. It was a sequence of musical tones that was a computerized variation off of the headline sounder. I remember this tone being used in the mid 80s. I also remember going into a discount store in the late 80s, and hearing this same musical tone being used on the public address system in the store, as a lead-in to alert shoppers in the store to items that were on sale. At this point, not on the radio, but as the store's  in house recorded ads.

Do you have any air checks of other sounders or commercials that you can post? I really enjoy your tribute site to WCBS . I guess I'm a real WCBS buff from the 70s and 80s. Steve Elias

FORMER WCBS NEWS DIRECTOR MIKE LUDLUM 1937-2015
Mike, who was 78, died November 29, 2015, in New Jersey after a three-year illness that led to hospice care. More in this remembrance by BOB GIBSON and many others: HERE

From DON SWAIM: Mike was a consummate professional I was proud to call a friend. He never yelled, as some of our executives were inclined to do, worked well under pressure, was admired by the staff, and upheld the highest standards of integrity and ethics. Mike slightly preceded me at WCBS as the station launched its mammoth all-news operation: he was then morning-drive news producer and I was morning-drive news editor.

From ROBERT LEEDER: Mike Ludlum's death was sad, sad news. Mike and I went back more than 50 years together, and I always held him in high esteem. He was an extremely creative writer, a talented all around newsman, and an absolute pleasure to work with. Mike and I were dual anchors on an all news morning show called "Nothing But News" back in the early sixties, before WINS went all news. We often traveled together. Aboard a NJ Air National Guard flight to Texas, for example, we covered a troop deployment story. At each NAB convention in Las Vegas, Mike and I always set aside time for a lunch, and we used to laugh about how our offices were one floor apart in Black Rock and we never had time in New York; rather, we would have to travel more than 2500 miles to have lunch! I will always value the time Mike and I worked together. He was an uncommonly gifted broadcaster and a wonderful friend,


THREE WCBS VETERANS...

...gather for luncheon, Neptune, NJ, Oct. 22, 2015. Former Shadow Traffic reporter Ed Salvas,
retired producer Marty Duskin, ex-anchor Bob Gibson
THE FAHANS

Former WCBS anchor Bill Fahan, seated. Standing: retired anchor Bob Gibson,
Joyce Fahan. Pearl River, New York, May 17, 2015. NOTE: Bill died on June 23, 2016.
(photo courtesy Bob Gibson)

BUSINESS REPORTER KEN PREWITT DEAD

Prewitt, who was 68, died of cancer at his home in Manhattan on April 11, 2015. Before moving to Bloomberg Radio, Prewitt was the voice of business at Newsradio 88. He and Ray Hoffman, a current business reporter at WCBS, were colleagues at WERE in Cleveland before emigrating to New York.

  • Obituary at Bloomberg News
  • Bob Moon of Bloomberg anchors this audio
  • Ray Hoffman has this tribute



  • Agnes Green, former chief desk assistant and newsroom coordinator at WCBS,
    was a mainstay of the news operation for many years. And a good friend
    . --DS


    FORMER WCBS REPORTER LOU MILIANO DEAD

    Miliano, who was 67, died of cancer at a hospice on January 12, 2015, in Florida, according to a posting on the CBS News Radio website. Lou's career at CBS began in 1989 until his retirement in 2007

    "I worked with Lou for many years, and the great thing about him as a newsman was his attention to ambient sound. He never did what we once called "stand-upers" without background audio, demonstrating, in the Edward R. Murrow tradition, an attention to the immediacy of time and place. In a business filled with prima donnas and egos, he was both independent and a nice guy." --Don Swaim



    IN MEMORIAM by MICHAEL KAHN
    sensational tribute by a long-time friend HERE

    with ex-WCBS staffer Michael Kahn

  • "Lou really did it all, and he surely did it his way. He was unique." --WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb

  • "He was fearless, creative and smart! It took me years to figure out that his hair was not his own! If there is nat sound in heaven - Lou will find it!" --Bernard Gershon, former WCBS assistant news director

  • "So incredibly talented. He changed the way a foreign correspondent sounded on the radio, and a generation followed." --Jeff Caplan, former WCBS anchor

  • "Lou was a gentleman through and through. He was amazing in his use of sound." --Roslyn Barreaux Brendzel, former WCBS newswriter

  • Lisa Fantino, ex-WCBS staffer, offers this excellent REMEMBRANCE


    Windswept correspondent

  • "He painted great word pictures and was one of the best at using audio and natural sound to bring listeners to the scene of breaking news." --Tim Scheld, WCBS 880 news director


    Lou and Tim Scheld covering the 1995 funeral of Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem


  • - BOB VOSBURGH, 2/24/15. Former part-time anchor. Mr. Book Beat! Hey Don! Wonderful to see some of the old gang! In a fit of occupational nostalgia, I was perusing Google and stumbled across this site. I wish I had known about it earlier, as I lived for 15 years in Fort Lee (not far from the "executive dining room" in Teaneck). I am happy to report (for anyone who remembers me) that I am alive and well, working as News Director at the Private Label Manufacturers Association here in Manhattan (LinkedIn profile). I commute four days a week from my home in Milford, CT. After my less-than-glamorous departure from Newsradio 88, I joined a small foodservice publication in Hackensack, NJ, then moved on to a national B2B trade pub, Supermarket News (at that time owned by Fairchild Publications of Women's Wear Daily fame), then left after 15 years there to assume my present position. Indeed, a far cry from covering state budgets, trials and fires, but no complaints. I eat well :). That's about it. I am glad to see you look great and am active with the others. Please tell Dave Levin, Bob Gibson, Marty Duskin (who I called "Skipper") and that pesky nighttime caller Lou Freizer (kidding) that I said hello! Perhaps one day I can sneak back out to Teaneck and join the Board. Regards &c., Bob


    TODD GLICKMAN: 35 YEARS
    ON THE AIR AT WCBS

    Veteran meteorologist Todd Glickman launched his career at Newsradio88 on May 5, 1979, at 6:06 AM, and has been going strong ever since.

    Todd writes: "I did my first weathercast on WCBS 880, with Gary Maurer as the anchor. That was a lot of "8s" ago! Thanks to then News Director Lou Adler and GM Robert Hyland III who gave me the chance; and to my friend and colleague Craig Allen for letting me sit in the Weather Center "Big Chair" from time-to-time for over three decades."

    Here's Todd's first Newsradio88 office, the WCBS Weather Center at Black Rock:

    click to enlarge

    Todd's anniversary was celebrated on the air by Chief Meterologist Craig Allen and anchors Steve Scott and Brigitte Quinn: LISTEN

    Retired anchor Bob Gibson says: "I'd be remiss if I failed to take this opportunity to say that while I was unaware until now, I'm not surprised that Todd was offered the position of Chief Meteorologist only because over the years, regardless of what Mother Nature tossed at the metropolitan area, he has always been able to explain it in an easy to understand manner. At the same time, the station has been in the excellent hands of Craig Allen, and his three-decades-plus tenure is testament to that!"


    at the portable WCBS Weather Center, New York Marathon


    AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT....VISIT:

    Glickman
    Compendium of Newsradio 88 memorabilia -- even junk -- along with photos, including the WCBS traffic 'copter, dating to the 1980s. Collected by long-time meterologist Todd Glickman. See all HERE



    News and Recollections 2015-2018
    News and Recollections 2012-2014
    News and Recollections 2009-2011
    News and Recollections 2008
    News and Recollections 2007
    News and Recollections 2006
    News and Recollections 2005