Re­mem­ber­ing Ed Dague

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - John Gray John Gray is a news an­chor on WXXA-Fox TV 23 and ABC’S WTEN News Chan­nel 10. His col­umn is pub­lished ev­ery Wed­nes­day. Email him at [email protected]

I first met Ed Dague in the sum­mer of 1988.

I was hired as a part-time pro­ducer at Chan­nel 13 pri­mar­ily work­ing on week­ends. Ed came in one Satur­day af­ter­noon to grab some­thing out of his of­fice and found me sit­ting alone in the news­room. Ed was a big deal at the TV sta­tion and it would’ve been un­der­stand­able if he just gave me a wave and kept on go­ing, not tak­ing time to meet this new em­ployee, but that’s not what he did.

Ed came over and shook my hand and in­tro­duced him­self as if I didn’t know who we was. For a guy who was a star Ed sure didn’t act like it.

I told him my full-time job was in ra­dio do­ing the news and his eyes lit up be­cause that’s where he started his ca­reer, not in front of the cam­era but be­hind the ra­dio mi­cro­phone. We quickly dis­cov­ered we knew some of the same peo­ple in ra­dio and a kin­ship was formed.

Eight months af­ter our first meet­ing I was hired full-time at a TV sta­tion and be­came one of Ed’s pro­duc­ers and re­porters. For those of you who don’t know, a pro­ducer works be­hind the scenes writ­ing the news copy that the an­chors like Ed would read. Ed Dague was an ex­cel­lent writer and would of­ten take the things I had writ­ten and punch them up.

Most writ­ers get of­fended when other peo­ple change their words but Ed al­ways made your work and words bet­ter so you didn’t seem to mind. He was one of those peo­ple you could learn from sim­ply by watch­ing what he did.

For starters, Ed al­ways came in ready to work. He’d al­ready read a half dozen news­pa­pers be­fore he ever showed up at the TV sta­tion so right out of the gate he knew more than ev­ery­body else in the news­room. He also took time to talk to re­porters about their sto­ries and asked ques­tions he knew that you, the viewer, would want an­swered.

In the days since Ed died I read a lot of sto­ries with his for­mer col­leagues talk­ing about what he taught them about jour­nal­ism. If you don’t mind I’d like to share two sto­ries with you right now.

The first hap­pen when I was a 25-year-old pro­ducer at the TV sta­tion on a very busy news night. There were three huge sto­ries hap­pen­ing; one lo­cal, one na­tional, and one hap­pen­ing in Ger­many. Any one of them could’ve led the news­cast that night at 11 p.m. so I went to Ed’s of­fice and gen­tly tapped on the door and told him I didn’t know which story was the most im­por­tant.

He smiled, looked at me and said “What is it we do here John?”

I an­swered sim­ply “The news.

“Ed then said to me, “That’s right so which of the three sto­ries did we not ex­pect to hap­pen tonight?” That was the very def­i­ni­tion of the news be­cause it was new. He was right of course and he taught me some­thing that was as plain as the nose on my face.

The sec­ond thing Ed taught me was to try not be friends with the sub­ject of my story. Back in the 90’s I liked a politi­cian name Jim Coyne and I felt bad when he had go to prison. When he got out I went to interview Jim to see how he was do­ing af­ter jail. I sat on the news set next to Ed where he watched my story then told me to meet them in his of­fice af­ter the news­cast was over. When I got there he told me to shut the door and he asked me why I had soft, sad mu­sic play­ing un­der­neath my interview with Jim Coyne?

He told me by us­ing mu­sic I was mak­ing an ed­i­to­rial de­ci­sion and lead­ing the au­di­ence to feel sym­pa­thy for Jim. He gen­tly said to me, “Don’t try to ma­nip­u­late the au­di­ence with mu­sic or any­thing else, just let them watch the story and make up their own minds.” He told me I was a jour­nal­ist not a cheer­leader. He was right again of course.

I last saw Ed a few years ago at his home in Saratoga and he was strug­gling with pain which was noth­ing new for him. Still, with­out com­plaint, he was ea­ger to talk about the news busi­ness and the peo­ple we both knew; some of whom were no longer with us. We talked about Norm Se­bas­tian which made Ed smile be­cause Norm was his friend as well as mine. An­other great guy taken too soon, by my es­ti­ma­tion.

Obit­u­ar­ies tend to paint the de­ceased as per­fect but if Ed were sit­ting over my shoul­der watch­ing me write this col­umn he’d say, “Don’t you dare make me out to be a saint John, I was as hu­man as any­body else and cer­tainly not per­fect. “I wouldn’t dare dis­honor the man who taught me so much by do­ing that, I would sim­ply say this about my friend.

Ed Dague was a good man who adored his family, set an ex­am­ple for any­one smart enough to pay at­ten­tion and he was great jour­nal­ist. Check that, a damn great jour­nal­ist.

I’ll leave you with this. Some­times, es­pe­cially on Fri­day nights, old friends of Ed’s would show up at Chan­nel 13 and sit with him in his of­fice shoot­ing the breeze. And ev­ery once in a while you’d hear Ed laugh­ing so loud it echoed through the en­tire build­ing.

Ed was al­ways the smartest guy in the room but peo­ple for­get he also of­ten the hap­pi­est. That’s the man I’ll re­mem­ber.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.