Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Larry Lavelle

I first met Larry Lavelle in the early 80's.  I was a young radio reporter.  Larry was a television news photographer, first at channel 22, then channel 28, then channel 16.  In later years, we laughed about it.  We both worked at all three.  There was a difference.  Larry's departures from 22 and 28 were voluntary.  Mine weren't.

We shared a running joke back in the day, "Where's the calliope?"  It seemed we covered more than our share of circuses years ago-- the trials, the courthouse and city hall hijinks, the political dog and pony shows, etc.   The only thing missing was the circus type music.  Hence, the calliope.  Larry was great fun to be around, especially during those long hours at the courthouse and other venues.  He took his work seriously.  He didn't take himself seriously.

By the time I joined WNEP in 1998, Larry had moved out of news and worked on Home & Backyard.  He was one of the people who helped keep Newswatch 16 dominant in the early days.  Now, he was helping make Home & Backyard a very watchable broadcast.

The new times brought another running joke.  We still referred to the calliope.  Now, it was my merciless ribbing over a H&B story at a chair museum.  Let's just say I didn't think the story was a grabber, and I let Larry know about it-- often.  He laughed it off.  It was Larry being Larry.   I know he thought I was wrong, but he didn't let me get to him.

Larry Lavelle died suddenly on Sunday.  53.  We are all shocked and saddened.  Larry left us too soon.  There were more stories to tell, more laughs to share.

I found out about Larry's passing when I opened my e-mail very early Monday morning.  The first thing I did when I got to work at 2:45 AM was grab my camera, and visit Larry's desk.  There are some things you should see, and it tells you a lot about the man.
Larry had a collection of old broadcast and newsroom gear-- film cameras, microphones, a typewriter, press passes, ID's, video tape gear, etc.  It's quite a group of items.

We often kicked around ideas.  I thought about pitching a magazine show idea.  Larry was intrigued.  Unfortunately, the timing wasn't right.  The staff was tied up on other projects.  The good time slots were taken.

There is so much Larry did around the station that you didn't know about.  I'm sure you appreciated it, because it was good work, even if you were unaware of who was behind the camera and the keyboard.  Larry had his hand in quite a bit at WNEP.  For that, we are extremely fortunate.
There are a couple awards on the wall, in the above shot.  Remember that wonderful Steamtown/Tunkhannock Viaduct/Nicholson piece photographed from Skycam a few years ago?  Larry did that.  He appreciated history.  He knew how to capture the images, and edit them into something memorable.
It's the standard cliche at a time like this.  It fits like a glove.  Larry was a nice, nice man.

Larry Lavelle leaves a big chair to fill.  I was lucky to have known, and worked with him.  My sympathy to his wife and children.