Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dr. George "Middle Initial E" Hudock

I've searched the web for a picture of Luzerne County's late Coroner, Dr. George E Hudock to add to this. Couldn't find one. The title of this post comes from "Doc's" testimony in any number of cases. When being sworn in, Doc would be asked to state his name. "Dr. George, "middle initial E" Hudock."

Reading a post by fellow blogger and friend Vince Sweeney triggered this memory.

The year was 1973 or 1974. I was working as the weekend newscaster at WILK-AM in downtown Wilkes-Barre. A call came over the police radio for a body found on the sidewalk outside the Hotel Sterling. I hadn't covered many stories first hand and this was an opportunity, so I grabbed my trusty cassette recorder and ran the one block down to the Sterling.

Arriving, I saw a body covered with a cloth. And there stood the Luzerne County Coroner Dr. George Hudock. It was the first time I saw him in person. Over the years, we would meet hundreds of times. I fact, a posting on YouTube of a WDAU-TV promo includes tape of me at a crime scene with Doc and Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Joe Coyne in the background. (But I digress.)

The body that was covered was that of an elderly woman who had apparently jumped to her death from a window.

I introduced myself and asked Doc for an interview. He didn't know me and asked if I was new. Of course I said yes. He smiled.

I then started my tape recorder and began asking questions.

"Doctor, can you tell me the cause of death?"

"Well, I've narrowed it down to deceleration trauma or concrete poisoning."

As my tape recorder rolled, I began writing "deceleration..."

A couple of police officers standing nearby began to laugh. I realized then I was being had.

Doc never broke.

"So," I said, "You're saying she died from the fall?"

"No." Doc said, "She died from the landing."

True story.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Forgive me, but the next couple of days are going to be all about Harry Kalas. I've cried like this two other times in my life; when my Dad died and when Terry McNulty died. Then I smiled and laughed today when my friend Andy Palumbo e-mailed the above. Thanks AP.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry the K

"We have lost our voice," said Philadelphia Phillies President David Montgomery. Harry Kalas has died. He was 73.

My son KC called with the news. His voice cracked with emotion. Baseball is our great love and we shared a love of Harry Kalas. He knew the news would hit me hard and it did.

I didn't know Harry. I met him once in 1980 at the Phillies Caravan in Wilkes-Barre. I asked for an autograph. Harry signed a picture of those participating in the Carvan and asked, "Who can I make this out to?" Too embarassed to say it was for me, I asked that he make it out to my sister. He was very kind.

When you love baseball and love a team, you cannot help but be drawn to that team's broadcasters. I loved listening to Harry and Riche Ashburn call Phillies games. I was fortunate to meet Ashburn too. When I interviewed, "Whitey," I asked him about his relationship with Kalas. Ashburn broke into a wide smile and said, "We're something else aren't we?" We both laughed.

For Christmas, KC gave me the Phillies 2008 World Championship DVD. Harry called the final inning. As I write this, the Phillies Radio Network is replaying that call. I'm blubbering like a baby.

Yesterday, I switched between the Phillies game and the Masters. I heard Harry call his final game; The Chase Utley home run, the Matt Stairs home run. I am grateful.

Phillies games will never be the same for me. Of course I said that when Ashburn died. But I had Harry the K to hang on to. Now he's gone.

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.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


WYOU-TV News (nee WDAU News) of Scranton, a once proud beacon of broadcast journalism in Northeastern Pennsylvania, died not so unexpectedly on Friday April 3, 2009 at 2:00 PM in Wilkes-Barre.
It had been in ill health for years.
Born in Scranton on June 7, 1953, it attended most of the major news events of the last half century including the Knox Mine Disaster, the Agnes Flood Disaster of 1972, the George Banks Murder case and most recently the Luzerne County Courthouse Corruption Scandal.
It fell victim to federal deregulation of the broadcast industry in the 1980s. It was so sick, in fact, that it was unable to report its own impending demise.
It was preceeded in death by WGBI News and WDAU News.
Surviving are fourteen former colleagues, numerous former employees and WBRE-TV, with whom it lived.
Funeral services will be private. There will be no viewing.