Saturday, April 11, 2009

Uncommon Decency

When WYOU-TV 22 pulled the plug on its news operation last week, several lost their jobs. You could understand how some would be bitter. The man who served the longest was the one who was least bitter. Of all of the surprises of the last week, David DeCosmo's reaction was the least surprising.
I met David in 1973 when he hired me to do the weekend news on WILK AM. I was inexperienced, but Dave took a chance on me. I am forever grateful.
We parted professional company a few years later when David moved on to another radio station's management, only to be reunited at WYOU in 1986. I was fortunate to learn at the feet of a man who has forgotten more news than most in this market could ever hope to know. I could write a book on what Dave taught me.
There's a reason the Professional News Media Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award almost three decades ago. David DeCosmo is a pro.
There is something that David could not teach. Something you would have to learn by watching. That something is decency; uncommon decency. I cannot write an adequate description of it. Anybody who is fortunate enough to know him and his family understands it.
In a business sometimes overwhelmed by massive egos, Dave was the one guy who kept it all in perspective. He was NEVER bigger than the story. The story always came first.
In all that's been written in the last week, the thing most striking to me is Dave's concern for his co-workers; not himself.
He's been a colleague, mentor and friend and my life has been forever enriched by knowing him.
I am sorry that Dave didn't get a chance to bow out under his own terms and allow his friends and fans to pay tribute to him.
Maybe that's because he hasn't yet written his sign off.


David DeCosmo said...

And you,my friend,were one of the best newsmen I ever worked with in all those many years!
As a matter of fact I never kept trying to get you back on the air.
Who knows, if mine had been an actual retirement you would have been the perfect person to take over.
Anyhow I'm now doing a new program on Electric City TV, "People,Places and Things" just to keep one toe in the door.
It dosen't pay anything but keeps me from getting rusty.
And it seems I may be doing a few Public Service assignments for WYOU in the future.
Social Security should help for a while till I can see if someone can think of something to do an old news guy (part time that is!).
But I'm not complaining.
The years have been good and the friends continue to be great!
I'm so glad you're on that list!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin -- not sure if you remember me, but one of my friends (who's still in TV) highly recommended I check out your blog...

I used to toil at WILK where I met you (albeit briefly - my position as News Director was eliminated about a year and a half after I started) and you were still at WYOU, where I also got the chance to get to know Dave DeCosmo. Both of you were quite kind to me, especially with being the "new" kid in town more than 10 years ago.

While some may argue that WYOU died a slow, painful death, I feel that the grim reaper's arrival came quicker, due to that awful "shared services" agreement in 1998, the same year that I left W-B and moved to Harrisburg.

WYOU's strong point was its location and focal point on Scranton -- the other two TV stations tended to center (at least when I lived there) on W-B and further south...

Now with little to no competition (news-wise) on TV and radio, it's really quite sad...

I hope you're doing well and I really enjoy reading your blog...

And David, if you happen to read this, you are truly a class act and I feel honored to know you and to have interviewed you !

Take care,

Tara Mead (nee Curtis)

Bill Mecca said...


I agree wholeheartedly. I have always felt I was better at my job, and my life for having known and worked with David. Anyone who worked with him could not help but learn.

I first met Dave when he and Bob Dennis were the "Wilkes Barre Bureau" (it was more like a single drawer) for WDAU and we were shooting film. I was anchoring the Saturday evening newscasts way back when, and it was just me writing and producing the entire show. No matter how busy Dave and Bob were during the week they would save something for me to use on the weekend. It's the kind of man he was/is.

Later when you joined the staff and we had an actual office on Public Square it was the same thing, even better.

As I have said before I look back fondly at my time at 415 Lackawanna Avenue. I was heartbroken when they tore down the old building. I said to another former colleague, "Since the station isn't there, did we really work there?" but I realized what really made it a station, a family, was the people.

And David DeCosmo is top drawer. (pun intended) ;-)