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Monday, September 1, 2014

Uncle Kevin

Some of us in the old WYOU newsroom called him "Uncle Kevin."  Kevin Jordan.  Don't ask me how and why it started.  I suspect it was there was a lucky few of us Kevin took an interest in, and he always offered us advice on how we can do our jobs better, on how we can be better, on how we can serve the viewer better, better journalism.

We had similar career tracks.  Kevin spent several years in radio before moving to TV.  I did the same thing.

I first met Kevin when I was on WARM.  I don't believe Kevin had made the move to WYOU at the time, so he would have been at WBRE.  Most of the time, we bumped in to each other at the Luzerne County Courthouse.  It can be an intimidating place.  Kevin was kind to the newbie, always pointing me in the right direction.

Later, beginning in 1990, we worked together at WYOU.  I didn't make a conscious effort to copy Kevin's style, but a lot of it crept in to my reporting because it was so good.  It was a clean, crisp style, with an occasional clever turn of phrase.

Kevin offered me advice that I still pass along to kids in the business.  Kevin once told me he became a better reporter when he stopped trying to impress the others in the media, and started trying to impress the viewers.  What they want is the information.  Clean and simple.

I first stepped in front of a microphone when I was 17, and I've been doing this nearly 35 years.  I don't think I've met anyone as efficient as Kevin Jordan.  He knew how to get the story down to its essence and do it quickly.  He knew how to write it so you understood it.  He delivered it live and flawlessly.  Kevin always made sure he was never bigger than the story.

Kevin will always be remembered for holding presidential candidate Ted Kennedy's feet to the fire during a 1980 radio interview, and the way he covered the George Banks case-- from crime to trial and conviction.

Dealing with Kevin had its challenges.  He was an expert needler.  At times, he went a little too far, drawing a little blood.  It hurt and you wanted to put him through a wall.  Eventually, you forgave.  It was just Kevin being Kevin.

The man was more than a news reporter.  He did sidelines at our broadcasts of high school football games on Saturday afternoons, a role I eventually assumed when Kevin cut back.  He knew sports.  His questions went beyond the cliches, and was one of the best ad libbers I ever met.

Then, there was politics.  The old WYOU used Kevin and former Scranton mayor Jim McNulty on election nights.  Kevin knew his stuff, and he was the perfect guy to bring McNulty's vast political knowledge to the surface.  No one could do it better.  It was a solid team, and I was proud to be a very small part of it.  Before heading out on election night assignments, a short session with Jim and Kevin was always in order.  I picked their brains, learning what to watch for.  It never failed to pay off.

I did five Scranton St. Patrick's Parades with Kevin.  We were co-street reporters.  It showed he had an added dimension, a side you didn't see a lot.  He could be extremely funny.  The man could shift gears-- hard news to live parade reporting, and still retain credibility.

There are times, when I'm wrapping up a live shot on a "hard news" story, and it's going well, and there's momentum, and I can hear Kevin's delivery creeping in to mine.   That's when I know I've done well.

Kevin left broadcasting for a county job around 1996.  The business was never the same.  That's Kevin and I in the photo above, taken in the old WYOU newsroom in the early 90's.

By now, it's likely you know where this is going.  Kevin had  a series of health problems over the years.  In and out of hospitals.

Kevin died late Sunday afternoon.

I was lucky to work with him.  I was luckier to have him as a friend.