RIP Veteran Newscaster Lou Miliano

A shock tonight to hear of the passing of veteran CBS newscaster Lou Miliano.  Facebook is good and bad that way.  It keeps you connected even in sadness.

My connection with Lou goes back to my days at WCBS AM.  Lou was the station’s stellar correspondent.  We became fast friends without meeting face to face for the longest time.  He was always in the field and I was always in a tape studio ready to take his feeds.  I was awed by his insight and talent.  He could mix sound in the field and do what we in the news biz called a ROSR (reporter on scene) bringing radio listeners to the scene with his words.  I never had to do his mixing for him.  He was a wham, bam, thank you ‘mam reporter. Down and dirty and onto the next, without missing a detail, a soundbite, a newsmaker.

He was also one of the coolest guys in the biz.  You just wanted to hang with him.  How could you not? Intelligent and he rode a motorcycle.  A smart guy in a leather jacket.

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His official obit will list all of the stories he covered all over the world and all the awards he deservedly won.  What they won’t list is the support he gave to his friends and I am glad to have been among them.  Long after we both left the radio news biz, he retired and I went to law school, we found common ground in our love of all things Italian.

When I moved there for a brief while, Lou was one of the few people who stayed in touch, writing to me in Italian but letting me know I had a friend at home.  When I started my travel company, Lou even had me plot out his future move to Sorrento.  When I was writing my first book, Amalfi Blue,Lou was the first fellow journalist to get behind me all the way.

Facebook kept us connected.  I didn’t even know his battle with cancer had reared its head so recently because it seems like just the other day he was messaging me about something Italian.

He was a true rockstar among journalists but I will miss him more as a friend than as a colleague.  It was a true privilege to have been both.

I am sure Lou is on the back of a bike, hugging every curve of the Amalfi Drive, coming at you in three-two-one.  Abbracci dear friend.

Remembering Mario Cuomo

I was lucky enough to have had run-ins with Mario Cuomo.  Yes, I say lucky because the late Governor did nothing if not challenge journalists on a daily basis.  He wasn’t always the nicest, most easy going politician when it came to talking to the press but he was one of the most upfront, candid, pull no punches people you would ever meet…and readily available, no matter the day, no matter the hour.

Governor Mario CuomoI tailed after him for his three terms, from lower Manhattan to Westchester and beyond and it was always an event, never boring.  I could actually say he readied me for law school because with every question I posed came two or three right back at me.  He saw every side and then some.  His professorial approach to addressing issues fueled his critics with plenty of cries of “liberal elitism,” when nothing was further from the truth.

I remember one night, late night, Election Day eve back in 1992.  I had to call him at home.  Mrs. Cuomo answered and let me speak to him at once.  He was eager that night.  Many had thought he would be running for President that year but he didn’t.  Instead, he was fighting for New York, as he had done for decades.  This night he was eager to talk with me about whichever referendum New Yorkers were voting on.  I don’t remember whether it was education, jobs or the judiciary, since he fought for them on all fronts.  He wanted to talk about the referendum and I wanted to talk about Bill Clinton.  Details of the issue are fuzzy now some 22 years later but I clearly remember saving the Clinton question till the end because after 15+ years of chasing Mario around the totem pole, I knew when to time the zingers.  I asked him and he let loose…….

“You’re all alike.  I’m coming after you Fantino, if you don’t use the soundbite on that referendum, I’m coming after you.”

I knew he was teasing.  He had that way with us.  My journalism students, on the other hand, were shocked when I played back the tape (yes, tape) for them.

Today, I just smile, knowing that he served New York and served it well.  Godspeed, Mr. Governor.

Farewell Captain

How do you say goodbye to a hero?  Someone who has been a part of your life for more than 20 years?  Someone who has brought you nothing but joy and great memories?  It’s hard but today’s the day New York says Farewell Captain.  Derek Jeter is retiring.  Me and my family will be there for part of baseball history because he has been so much a part of our family tapestry.

You have to understand what baseball is to me…it’s what bound this Daddy’s little girl to Daddy, along with dancing on the tops of his shoes.  My Dad taught me how to pitch, how to catch and he came to all of those girl’s softball games when I played shortstop, just like Derek Jeter.

Farewell CaptainYet, heroes are not born overnight.  They have to prove themselves.  They have to earn the right to your respect.  They have to lead by example and win your heart with each flub and foul…and they have to do it with grace and humility.  Derek Jeter has done just that throughout his stellar career.  So, he is not just leaving the New York Yankees but he is retiring from the game of baseball because he has been its dignified face for more than 20 years.

This summer was like the long goodbye.  Each turn at bat brought thousands of cameras out, clicking away, trying to memorialize a Jeter moment in time.  Then I went to a game and he didn’t take the field.  He draped himself across the fence in front of the dugout, his forever perch, always hugging it, head slouched, looking like a lost boy but focused on the field.  It was a bittersweet feeling for me, probably for him as well.  It’s a sadness that leaves a hole in your heart at the realization that this won’t last but the memory will.  Moments captured in the heart and not in pictures, moments you’ll remember for a lifetime because you lived the dream and believed that anything is and was possible.

I remember the day Joe DiMaggio died.  My Dad displayed a sadness I had never seen before.  He said it was as if his entire childhood and youth were slipping away.  With Sinatra’s death a few months earlier and then the Yankee Clipper.  It was a profound moment for him.

I don’t think there will be sadness in the Bronx today.  I think it’s going to be a party New York Style.  I think the cheering is going to be so loud that they’ll hear it all the way in Beantown and even the Bostonians will feel the love.

We all move onto new milestones in our lives.  Derek Jeter is looking forward to his.  Yankee Stadium was once known as the House that Ruth Built but there’s no denying that Derek Jeter lifted it to new heights.  Farewell Captain.  You will be missed…at least until the next Old Timers’ Day.