• Danny Schechter, the News Dissector
• In 1973, I wanted to work for him. In 1997, I focused CNN on him
• In 2020, I miss him
I was driving a cab in Boston in 1973, after my first taste of doing radio news in Toledo, Ohio, ended abruptly.
I listened to WBCN-FM, as everyone in New England with a decent antenna wired out the back of their Harman-Kardon tuner and Advent speakers did. I wanted nothing more than to work for WBCN.
I dropped off a tape and resumé at their studios. Never heard back. Their newsroom was the creation and the domain of Danny Schecter, who was known not only for one of the best on-air monikers ever, but for setting the standard for newscasting on progressive rock radio. I wanted to be Danny Schechter the News Dissector, or at least work for him.
I didn’t let the “radio silence” from BCN deter me from pursuing my personal career path; it led back to Ohio, to Pennsylvania and Illinois and from radio to television. After I arrived in New York in 1983, I started running into Danny at all sorts of news and news industry events; he had graduated from New England radio. We became friendly. He tirelessly pushed the projects his brand of advocacy journalism churned out. At ABC Radio News I turned to him more than once for input on issues I was covering. And, at CNN I was able to air an overview of a whole bunch of his “product” that came together in a perfect storm of media activism.
Jackson Browne and Don Hewitt contributed. There’s also an unforgettable photo in here of Danny with John & Yoko:
Danny passed away on March 19th 2015. A memorial service turned out hundreds of friends and colleagues who attested to how The News Dissector was, to many of us, the conscience of our profession.
I can only imagine what he would have done and said over the past five years since his microphone was unplugged for good.
2 thoughts on “Missing a Role Model”
Thanks for your recollection.
I met Danny in 2000 through Roshan Khadivi, a US-Iranian woman freelance who was writing for the same mag as me, the national union of journalists magazine. Danny was looking for a news journalist to contribute a daily digest of stories about the media, for Mediachannel.org
He flew me to the offices on Broadway NYC and I spent a week meeting the people and planning the output. This was pretty well-funded stuff compared to the shoestring budgets of similar groups in the UK, and I was impressed.
The media news section ran for nearly two years until funding ran out but it was a blast.
I saw him again about 2005 and always enjoyed his wit and verve. Miss him heaps.