STAN BOOKS, A FAMILIAR VOICE ON 1010 WINS, DIES AT 86
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: December 23, 2013
NEW YORK TIMES
Stan Brooks, a reporter whose long tenure and prolific output on New York’s first all-news radio station, 1010 WINS, made him one of the most recognized and consistent voices on the radio for more than 40 years, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86, and had worked until a month before his death, delivering his last report from City Hall on Nov. 20. The cause was lung cancer, his son Bennett said.
Mr. Brooks joined WINS, 1010 on the AM dial, as news director in 1962, when it was still one of the dominant pop music stations in the country, with a lineup of popular disc jockeys including Murray Kaufman, known as Murray the K.
When Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the station’s owners, decided to make WINS an all-news operation soon after Mr. Brooks’s arrival, he helped assemble the staff and lay the groundwork for one of the first all-news radio stations in the country — and the first in the city. The switch took place on April 19, 1965. The blackout on Nov. 9 that year, which plunged most of the Northeast into darkness, put Mr. Brooks’s news team on the aural map. By tapping into a transmission line based in New Jersey, WINS was one of the few radio outlets that managed to stay on the air. From a 19th-floor studio in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Brooks and his reporters broadcast news and information throughout the night. “Reporters had to go down 19 flights to get the story and then walk up 19 flights to go on the air,” all by candlelight, he told an interviewer.
After several years as an executive and then a national correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting radio station system, Mr. Brooks became a local reporter at WINS in 1970. His voice has been on the city’s airwaves almost every day since. In understated dispatches between 30 seconds and one minute long, he reported on plane crashes, race riots, municipal near-bankruptcies, the tall ships, the Son of Sam, the Attica prison uprising and every mayoral administration from John V. Lindsay to Michael R. Bloomberg. He conducted interviews under a light rain of ash and debris on Sept. 11, 2001. Before ducking under his desk, he delivered a live report from the scene after a gunman killed Councilman James Davis at City Hall in 2003. He liked the precision of short-form journalism. “When you’ve got 35 seconds, you’ve got to tell people what they need right away,” he said in an interview last year. “You want to get to the spine of the story.” In a 2005 interview, Mr. Brooks said he was often asked when he was retiring. “I don’t want to live in Florida,” he said. “I like living in New York, and as long as I’m living in New York I want to be active, and I think the most active and the most fun thing I could do is this.”
Stanley Bertram Brooks was born in the Bronx on Jan. 24, 1927, to Herman and Mildred Brooks. His father worked for a paper company, selling paper to printers. He attended City College for two years, before serving in the Army. He later transferred to, and graduated from, Syracuse University. After working for newspapers in Westchester County, he became a reporter and editor at Newsday on Long Island, where he worked for 10 years before moving to WINS.
Besides his son Bennett, he is survived by two other sons, George and Rick; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, the former Lynn Schwarz, died in May. At a holiday party on Dec. 17 for members of the news media, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the radio reporters’ section of the City Hall press room would thereafter be officially called the Stan Brooks Radio Room. “Your father, and grandfather, means a great deal to his colleagues,” Mr. Bloomberg said, speaking to members of Mr. Brooks’s family who attended in his absence since he was ill. “He’s even liked and respected by a particularly difficult group, and I’m talking about all the former mayors that he covered.