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