James Alan Gash, better known as Jim, died after living several years with cancer. Only child of the late Etta (Press) Gash and Arthur Gash, he was born in Brooklyn on July 15, 1930. A graduate of Poly Prep and Cornell University, he majored in English and began his avocation for journalism while working on the Cornell Sun. One of his post graduate jobs was with the NBC affiliate in Buffalo. From there he went to WNEW in New York City when that station was at its peak, with well known on air personalities William B. Williams and Gene Klavan. Jim joined the large news staff and worked there for fifteen years covering city hall, disasters, politicians, and celebrities of the day from Jackie K. to Marilyn M. His talent was to get to the nub of the story and interpret it clearly. He left in 1974 during the citys financial crisis when news operations were cutting back, and moved upstate to work in the press office of the Speaker of the Assembly. Since being a little boy cheering the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, he was more than a fan and knew everything about every player, trade and game. The 2005 Baseball Register is on his desk. He also loved travel, beach sitting, ethnic food and animals. He leaves his wife of forty four years, Wendy, his shaggy dog Muszka, and many friends who relied on his counsel and the rare ability to just listen.
If you missed this posting by Andy Fisher on the New York Radio Message board
March 10, 2005 at 13:37:20:
David Hinckley reported yesterday in the Daily News that WNEW’s Jim Gash died last week after a long battle with cancer.
There was once a time when there were only two microphones present at any given news event in New York City. One belonged to Gabe Pressman. The other belonged to Jim Gash.
From 1959 to 1974, Jim defined local radio news reporting in New York. He was on a first-name basis with just about every newsmaker in the city. After he left WNEW, he worked for a time as the press representative for one or more of Albany’s most powerful lawmakers.
Jim was usually first on the scene (not difficult when few radio stations fielded reporters, but increasingly difficult through the 1960’s and into the 1970’s). Plane crash, five-alarm fire, topless dancer strolling down Wall Street (imagine covering THAT on the radio!), Jim was there.
When New York got its first “big” lottery in 1968 (the payout was something like $250k), the first winner found out her good fortune from Jim.
Jim suffered from severe nearsightedness (physically, not philosophically) and required the services of a driver. Many of America’s finest journalists (Gannett’s Barry Hoffman, News 12’s Mike Forrest and many, many more) began their careers loading Nagra recorders with 5-inch reels of tape, making sure there was gas in the Chrysler station wagon, and hustling Jim out to the scene of a building collapse or a train wreck.
I was the editor on Jim’s shift for a few of the eight years we were on the WNEW payroll at the same time. He didn’t have a lot of respect for me at first; his standards were a lot higher than my work could come up to. When he finally did have something good to say about me, it felt like a Peabody award.
One thing he did not like was a practical joke. He was usually able to see through any sort of ruse, but we managed to catch him once. WNEW had invested a fortune in the AP local wire, a service that reported breaking news very quickly. Rudy Ruderman and I counterfeited a local-wire story about a large gorilla being spotted atop the Empire State Building — and the Air Force sending planes. We set off the local-wire bulletin bell and rushed the fragmentary “report” to Jim. He had his coat on and was almost out the door before we let him in on it. I made the mistake of mentioning the incident to him years later — something I never did again. Interestingly, long after Jim left WNEW, some publicist arranged for an inflatable gorilla to be positioned on the Empire State mast — just why, I’ve long since forgotten.
Jim Gash was not just a radio reporter in New York City. He set the pace, and it was a fast one; he set the standards, and they were high. The very best of broadcast journalism in New York City has its roots in Jim Gash’s work.
NY Times – March , 2005 GASH–James Alan. North Chatham, NY, March 3, 2005