Legend and icon, words that are commonly misused and overused. But they could have been written just for Gabe Pressman. The Bronx native was 93. He was a fixture at WNBC for decades, getting a lifetime contract with his second stint in 1980.
The pioneering broadcaster is credited as the first street reporter in New York, when he joined WNBC in 1956.
“Gabe was the real deal!” Sue Simmons, his longtime WNBC colleague, remembers. “There was no one more respected in our newsroom. In my moments of insecurity, he was always gently supportive.”
Along the way, he interviewed mayors, governors and presidents. Pressman would do just that, “pressing” his subjects to answer for a hard-hitting story and becoming a leading proponent for the First Amendment.
There was plenty of shock in 1972 when Pressman switched channels to WNEW (now WNYW).
Former News Director Ted Kavanau got word from his general manager Larry Fraiberg that Pressman liked the Ten O’Clock News.
He almost single-handedly invented television news reporting in New York. Gabe Pressman and his six decades in the industry were honored Friday at the Fair Media Council’s Folio Awards. His award became a lifetime achievement appearance for the irreplaceable Pressman, who received two standing ovations sandwiching his speech and short video of his legendary career.
Pressman tells Tuned In, “It’s been a very interesting lifetime. I wouldn’t trade it for it any other experience.”
The pioneering broadcast journalist who turned 91 in February has been with NBC for more than a half-century.
“You are privileged to be a witness to interesting things that happen,” Pressman says. “I’ve had a whole lifetime of that.”
Perhaps Pressman’s most famous coverage came on November 22, 1963 in the hours after President Kennedy was shot. He left an assignment to wait for word from Dallas.