Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (1978-1989) died Friday, Feb. 1 at age 88. An appraisal by Andy Fisher, posted on the New York Broadcasting History Board, appears below.
Ed Koch never worked for WNEW, but in the 1970s and 1980s, he might as well have.
Ed Koch certainly had a face for radio, and from sound-bite to talk show, he was always entertaining on the air. He presided over New York City’s financial and psychological comeback from chaos in the late 1970s, so he was a pretty good mayor by anyone’s standards, although for a long time, as someone pointed out this morning, he did seem to have a “tin ear” when it came to the subject of race relations.
My first interview with Ed Koch was on primary night in 1974. Howard Samuels, the choice of the Democratic organization, was supposed to win an easy gubernatorial nomination, so WNEW assigned first-string reporter Mike Eisgrau to Samuels headquarters. I was sent to the headquarters of underdog Brooklyn congressman Hugh Carey. Carey headquarters was a pretty quiet place, and I was getting set for a long wait until his concession speech, but shortly after the polls closed, Ed Koch showed up. He was the congressman from the “silk stocking” district, and he clearly knew that something extraordinary was happening. Sure enough, Carey upset Samuels, and Ed Koch was almost a play-by-play announcer for us!
The other time I interviewed him was July 4, 1986, during Liberty Weekend, when President Reagan came to town to re-dedicate the renovated Statue of Liberty. I was a radio correspondent for NBC News, and Mayor Koch came to the press compound on the landfill for Battery Park City. I needled him about Liberty Island really being in New Jersey, and about his own origins in Newark, and, of course, he gave as good as he got. I tend to judge people by their senses of humor, and on that basis, I regard Ed Koch as the greatest New York mayor I can remember.
I can’t conceive of Michael Bloomberg standing on the Brooklyn Bridge asking, “How’m I doing?” I can remember John Lindsay getting huffy when he was reminded about calling New York “Fun City.” You wouldn’t dare try to have fun with Rudy Giuliani.
Ed Koch was a gift to radio, to politics, and, most of all, to New York
Photos added by WNEW1130
William B. Williams is pictured above in a late 50’s newspaper ad. His opinions about rock ‘n’ roll were evidently expressed in a more courtly manner during a TV appearance in 1963, according to listeners who wrote to him after the show. Those listener comments were included in one of WNEW’s column-like promotional ads, What’sNEW, (see below) placed in New York’s major dailies in 1963 /64. This is the 5th edition we’ve reconstructed from original clips collected by Bill Diehl.
Footnote: From the mid 1960’s to the early 80’s, WNEW tried to acknowledge top pop music to no one’s satisfaction. The station’s return in the early 80’s to the style of programming that had long sustained it, was undone by a succession of owners whose starvation budgets and programming bludegons rendered the WNEW of times past unrecognizable and without immediate value except for one more sale. E.B.
“. . .news on the hour and half-hour, Nat Asch Sports Reports . . .part of Klavan In the Morning once upon a time. An e-mail and a photo from Stuart Zuckerman appear below.
I was Promotion Manager of WNEW-AM for less than a year (June 1974-March 1975) but have fond memories of the great on-air talent I worked with, particularly Gene Klavan and Julius La Rosa.
It was a stressful time in the station’s history. A new Program Manager had arrived from the Cleveland station where Don Imus was the morning man. The program manager, John Lund, had been brought in to make the music more contemporary, but not be rock’n’roll. (Think pop Top 40). The on-air talent was not happy. Imagine Willliam B. Williams being told to mix “Baby I’m-A Want You” by Bread in the same set as something by Sinatra.
I’m most proud of an ad campaign I created for the morning drive program with the somewhat risqué headline. “Klavan gets you off in the morning”. (The runners L-R: Sales reps. Ed Mohr, Dick Barry, Nick O’Neill, PD John Lund.) Hope this brings back some fond memories to some of the gang that was at Eleven-Three-Oh back then.