Posts Tagged ‘john kosich’

Remembering Holyfield-Foreman: “Battle of the Ages” (and how we snuck into Holyfield’s victory party)

April 19, 2018

Evander Holyfield addresses supporters at his victory party following his heavyweight title defense against George Foreman in Atlantic City, April 19, 1991.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ April 19, 1991:  In it’s early casino days Atlantic City was a popular site for Heavyweight Championship fights, back when such fights were king, with most of them taking place at the Atlantic City Convention Center with Donald Trump’s “Trump Plaza” as host.

April 19, 1991 was my first after moving to the city where I anchored the 11 p.m. news at the local NBC affiliate WMGM-TV 40. It was billed as the “Battle of the Ages” and featured 28-year-old Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield defending his title against 42-year-old former Champ George Foreman.

I recently came across some pictures I took and an old press notebook from the fight which listed the ticket prices in the 19,000 seat arena ranging from $100 for the cheap seats up to $1,000. Serious change in 1991 dollars.

My press pass didn’t get me into the fight, plus I had to anchor the 11 p.m. news on that Friday night but I remember being around all of the star-studded build up to it. I recently came across the notes I jotted down of the night on the people I saw and so forth.


Future President Trump at title fight weigh in.

The notes included, ironically enough, my killing time with future President Donald Trump as I waited in a hallway outside a pre-fight party on the Plaza’s 7th Floor. They were leaving the party when his then girlfriend Marla Maples had to use the bathroom. After a while waiting “the Donald” decided he too may as well go. As he came out a few minutes later he looked at me as if to ask “she’s still in there?” I shrugged. He then proceeded to stick his head in the ladies’ room and yelled for her to “come on.”

The real fun came after our 11 p.m. newscast, we gathered in the Green Room of WMGM-TV 40 to listen through the scramble of the pay-per-view to the end of the fight. After Holyfield’s victory a couple of us decided to drive back into Atlantic City just to be around the action.

We went back to Trump Plaza where the pre-fight festivities went on but it was dead but we ran into a Trump executive who told us the Holyfield victory party was taking place over at Trump Regency. This was the former Playboy Casino that Trump now owned but operated as a hotel only property after his Trump Taj Mahal opened a year earlier.

Four of us, my co-anchor Lisa, our sports anchor Christine, our producer Dave and I made our way down the Boardwalk to the Regency. We had no idea where in the hotel we were going or if we’d be able to even get on the floor of the party but as luck would have it we stumbled on the ballroom and standing guard at the door was an Atlantic City cop who recognized Lisa. He told the person manning the door “they’re okay.”

We were in!


Luckily for me I had my still camera (pre cellphones kids this is how we took pictures) so I was able to get a number of pictures with the star studded attendees. There were sports celebrities everywhere Randall Cunningham and Keith Byars of the Eagles, basketball great Bill Walton, Hall of Famer Lynn Swann, Joe Piscopo, Donald and Marla and of course the guest of honor Evander Holyfield dressed in a suit, his face swollen from the pounding Foreman laid on him.


Joe Piscopo and his wife.

The four of us kind of split up as I roamed the floor getting my picture with a couple of the celebrities and boxing greats and I also took pictures of Holyfield out on the dance floor and thanking his supporters and one with Lisa and Christine.

At one point Lisa caught up with me to tell me about this Irish actor she and Christine ran into and how nice he was. His name to me did not ring a bell. She said he told them he was not into this loud scene and wanted the two girls to go back with him to his room where they could be in a quieter setting.

I told her, I don’t know the guy but for my money I think he’s looking for a three-some. She said no, no, he’s really nice. I told her do what you want but that’s my opinion. She said come over and meet him, so I went over and we actually had a drink together. His face, like his name, weren’t familiar but I found him to be as Lisa said very nice.

After awhile Lisa pulls me aside and says “so what do you think, should we go?” I told her she’s right, he’s very nice but if this wasn’t his scene why did he even come to a title fight and a victory party? She said you’re probably right and noticing my camera asked if I’d take a picture of them. So I snapped a shot of Lisa and Christine with him.

When I had the pictures developed (again pre cellphone era) I gave her a copy but don’t even think I initially put the picture in my photo album since I never heard of the guy.

About two year’s later “Schindler’s List” was released and it hit me, “oh that’s who Liam Neeson is!”


Lisa, Liam Neeson, Chris




Title Fight weigh in at Trump Plaza, April 18, 1991.





Boxing legend Lou Duva and me.



Temple Update: The backstory of the beginning of Temple University’s news program

October 22, 2017

John Kosich & John Roberts at Temple University graduation June, 1988

Working in television over the years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with a number of people who graduated after me from Temple University’s School of Communications & Theater, RTF radio television and film as it was then known.

(It was renamed the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication in March, 2017.)

Inevitably the conversation of our experiences on North Broad Street would always turn to “Temple Update,” the news program that gives students their first real taste of what it is they’ll be doing as television journalists.

I usually like to feel them out at first, pick their brain about what they thought about “Update” which is almost always followed by wonderful stories about how much that opportunity meant to them and their growth as young broadcast journalists.

That’s usually when I proudly share with them the fact that I played a small role in its creation.

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North Broad Street, Spring 1988

Heading into my senior year in the fall of 1987 I was fortunate to have a course with the legendary Professor John Roberts. For those Temple communications students who don’t know the name, oh how you should.

Roberts was a Philadelphia broadcast pioneer who anchored the first newscast for what would become KYW-TV in the early 40’s then did the same for what would become WPVI-TV Ch. 6 in 1947.

Beyond that he was the man who founded Temple University’s Department of Radio-Television-Film (RTF) and served as its very first chair. He also started the campus radio station WRTI-FM and was its first general manager in 1953 and a decade or so later played a key role in securing the funding from Walter Annenberg for what would become Annenberg Hall, with Roberts designing the radio and television sections of the building.

As that fall semester was wrapping up and we were all preparing to pick our spring classes, Roberts, with that quintessential broadcaster’s voice asked a handful of us one day to stay behind. He wanted to gauge our interest in taking part in a special class the next semester which would be his last at Temple after deciding to retire after nearly a half century at the University.

The course was a student’s dream from the standpoint there were no real set hours, no syllabus and we would let Roberts know how many credits we wanted to take (as a graduating senior I was at the max in my major and could only take it for two).
If it seems confusing it wasn’t, our mission was clear; use your creativity and ability to come up with something that Roberts could take to the University higher ups to show what the students in the program were capable of producing if given the opportunity.

Robert’s goal, not shared with us, was to make the case to start what would become “Temple Update.”

Aiding Roberts and the dozen or so of us involved was the man who was truly the department’s heartbeat, Rick Beardsley.

Rick was a teacher, mentor, big brother, Dad and so many other things to those who would get to know him over his 26 years at Temple before his death to cancer at an all too young age of 52 in 2011.

The course would be officially listed as RTF 303 with a title of “Topics in Production” and began in January 1988 with the students breaking up into two or three groups, each working on a different project.

Our group chose to put together a piece that could be shown to incoming freshman in the program with successful graduates and others in the field offering the advice they (and we) wish someone had offered about what was important to pursue, course of study wise, to prepare you for a career in the media.

I still have a few of the raw interviews including one I did with a young Jim Gardner of 6ABC whom I had interned under the previous year at WPVI. I sent Jim a link to it a few years ago.

I haven’t seen the finished product since we presented it at the close of that semester, I just remember the delight of Roberts and Beardsley who used it to successfully make their case and months later “Update” was born.

I only kept in touch with three teachers from Temple University after graduating Roberts, who got me my first job interview in television at WMFZ-TV 69 in Allentown; Stu Bykofsky of the Daily News who was my first journalism teacher and Rick Beardsley whose classes I would often return to speak with when time allowed and who would drop in to sit on a newscast from time to time when I was the 11 p.m. anchor at WMGM-TV 40 in Atlantic City.

We would inevitably always talk about one glaring Annenberg Hall omission though as the years passed and the number of “Temple Update” class pictures he took grew on the walls. That was the fact that the first picture in that lineup was the group from the fall of 1988 when we both knew the true first class came the semester before.

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My final Temple report card… an “A” for the class.

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Donald Trump, Russia & Atlantic City

July 26, 2017

Working in Atlantic City in the early 90s was a reporter’s dream. The casinos provided a non-stop parade of newsmakers and headliners that in a pre-internet era were readily willing to talk to the only local television station in the market.

It was a town of colorful characters from old timers with tales of the city’s “Boardwalk Empire” days to those involved in the modern Philadelphia mob, which for much of the previous decade had been out of Atlantic City, to those in the casino industry that at the time was still enjoying, along with Las Vegas and a handful of others spots, a basic monopoly on gambling in the country.

There were always big names in town like former talk show host Merv Griffin, who owned Resorts Casino and was a loyal viewer, always available for an interview and Frank Sinatra who was still playing the Sands several times a year and never talked to the media.

The biggest name in Atlantic City at the time though was New York developer Donald J. Trump. That was true both figuratively and literally, since the name TRUMP was spelled out in giant bold red letters across all of his properties.

I arrived in Atlantic City in June of 1990 as an anchor at the NBC affiliate WMGM-TV just months after Trump’s ground jewel, the Taj Mahal, opened to gamblers joining his other two casinos Trump Plaza and Trump Castle and a third hotel-only property the Trump Regency.

I covered some memorable stories at the Trump properties over the years, hosting a television special with Tony Bennett from the Castle, covering the Holyfield-Foreman and other title fights from the Plaza and occasionally talking with Trump himself, who didn’t much like doing local interviews.

This trip into my past has ties to the present and the current Russian investigation going on in Washington.

It begins with the above business card I recently came across from one of the stories I covered at Trump Castle. I held onto the card all of these years because it was unique in that it was printed in English on one side, Russian on the other. It was the card of Yuri Zagainov, the Chief of Protocol to then Russian President Boris Yeltsin who I interviewed following a meeting with Trump casino executives at the Castle.

It was the fall of 1992 as best my memory serves, just a year after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and Zagainov was part of a group from Russia meeting with Trump casino executives.

I don’t remember exactly why the Russians were meeting with the Trump officials that day (Trump was not part of the group) and to be clear we were there at the invitation of the Trump public relations team or we would not have been allowed up to the Castle president’s office to do our interview.

Why I remembered this, in addition to the business card, was because of a story I’ve told often over the years about the group emerging from the office of then Trump Castle President Roger Wagner. In his lobby there was a portrait of Trump that the Russians were being shown and I made the smart-aleck comment that there is normally a kneeler and candles in front of it (which brought glaring stares from the Trump folks).

1992 was a rough year for Atlantic City and the Trump casinos. The billion dollar Taj was the city’s 12th casino but its opening and huge numbers came at the expense of the other eleven properties including Trump’s Plaza and Castle.

Despite its immediate ascension to the role of market leader in monthly revenue, the Taj Mahal was not making enough money to cover the costs associated with the junk bonds used to finance its construction.  That coupled with the drop in revenue at the Plaza and Castle saw all three properties go through bankruptcy reorganization by the fall of 1992.

At one point at the start of the economic downturn when Trump was in danger of missing an interest payment due on the bonds against the Castle he got a little creative help from his father developer Fred Trump.

The elder Trump essentially arranged to take out $3.5 million in $5,000 chips from the Castle but didn’t play or immediately redeem them. The end result was a banner weekend for the Castle and the interest payment was made.

The move was later uncovered and resulted in a $30,000 fine against the Castle by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. The elder Trump later filed the proper paperwork so he could loan his son money through proper channels in the future.

The bankruptcies saw Trump lose more and more of his ownership stake in the properties. 25 years later there are no more traces of Trump in Atlantic City; the Castle is now a Golden Nugget, the Plaza and Regency were both closed and torn down and the once grand Taj Mahal closed last year and was recently sold at auction to Hard Rock International to reopen as a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

So did anything actually result from that meeting with the Russians that fall afternoon a quarter century ago? I have no idea but it will be interesting to see in the coming months just how far back and how deep into Trump’s business the investigations in Washington will go and if therein lies an answer.

New Hampshire Primary

February 13, 2016


As a political junkie it was always on my journalistic bucket list to cover Iowa & New Hampshire this year though it came to be below is the New Hampshire experience.

Friday February 5, 2016: Two days after returning from Iowa for the caucuses we loaded up the news car for the roughly 650 mile trek from Cleveland to Bedford, New Hampshire and took off just after 7 a.m.

New England had been hit by a sizable snow storm and we were driving in just behind it which made for some amazing scenes as the wet snow clung to the trees was illuminated by the setting sun behind us against the back drop of the storm clouds ahead moving north and east.

Our first stop was a town hall in Bedford, which was Governor John Kasich’s 100th since announcing his run for the White House 199 days earlier. We were there for that first town hall in July in Nashua so it was fitting we were there for the 100th.


When on the road covering these types of stories the two greatest words I can share with young reporters is WORK AHEAD. When you see the opportunity to get sound for a future story get it! Even if it never sees the light of day it can potentially save you when something falls through or at very least make your days to come a little easier.

With that in mind at the town hall I took advantage of the opportunity to talk with Kasich co-chair, former New Hampshire U.S. Sen. John Sununu as well as Kasich’s Senior Strategist John Weaver for future stories.

John Kasich 100th New Hampshire town hall

We would be live at 11 p.m. and tape a look live for the Saturday morning show before checking into our hotel in a converted shoe factory in Manchester. (If you’ve never been to Manchester a great deal of the town’s manufacturing past is preserved with so many of the red brick buildings converted to new uses.)

Saturday February 6, 2016: Our long day started early with a trip over to the campus of St. Anselm’s University to pick up our credentials for that evening’s GOP Debate on ABC.

From St. Anselm’s in Manchester we drove out to Portsmouth to meet with Ruth Griffin, the 90 year old political matriarch of the GOP with a rich New England accent. The sun was bright on the drive south and east to the coast with the snow clinging to the trees the scene outside Griffin’s clapboard home was vintage New England.


I first met Ruth back in July when she was still undecided on who she would support. If  you want to run for president as a Republican, you come to New Hampshire and visit with Ruth and so at 11 a.m. we did.

Once again in the working ahead mindset it’s a story that would air Sunday night at 11 p.m. knowing that with the Super Bowl on there would be nothing else going on. We did live at 11 and then taped a looked live version for Monday’s morning show.

Talking politics with New Hampshire’s 90 year old GOP matriarch.

After leaving Ruth’s home we headed straight for Kasich’s field office in Manchester where his campaign bus would be arriving at 1 p.m. to allow him to greet supporters who were getting ready to head out and go door to door canvasing.


The number of media on hand was large so that when the bus pulled up and Kasich stepped out the cameras formed a large semi circle while John Roberts of Fox, myself and the other reporters crouched down in the front holding out the microphones a maneuver that takes its toll on your knees.


We would then go back to the hotel where I would edit that story then get ready for the debate, take the shuttle to St. Anselm’s and front it from inside the media filing center for the 6 p.m. news.

On Super Bowl weekend Gov. Kasich channels his inner coach to rally supporters.

After the 6 o’clock live shot it was a chance to catch our breaths until the debate started at 8 p.m. This is when I edited the Ruth Griffin piece for Sunday and took a look at the other sound I had gathered.



The debate turned out to be the turning point in the race with Chris Christie’s cross examination of Marco Rubio the highlight leaving the door open for Kasich to have his best debate performance of the evening.

Our plan was to turn reaction from the Spin Room for the 11 p.m. but when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen because the debate wouldn’t wrap up in time I grabbed John Sununu quick and turned a quick interview with him to feed back and front that minutes later.

After the 11 p.m. I began to gather sound for the morning show when one of Kasich’s people grabbed me and asked me if I’d like to talk with him, so they pulled me over and after he finished with one of the networks we had a chance to discuss the debate which we would send back for Sunday morning’s show.

Kasich discusses debate performance.

Sunday February 7, 2016: No rest for the weary we were out the door early to make our way to Nashua for Kasich’s first post debate town hall. The crowds were bigger and the media more prominent, Jonathan Karl from ABC News, John Heilemann and Mike Barnicle among others.

I would grab sound with Heilemann (working ahead) then put together the town hall for 6 p.m.

6 p.m.: Kasich riding high of debate performance holds Nashua town hall

With the Ruth Griffin story airing at 11 p.m. this was the first real chance we had to relax since arriving so my photographer and I had a sit down dinner and watched part of Super Bowl 50 on a phone propped up on the table.

Monday February 8, 2016: Another early start headed out to Plaistow, NH for the first of four town halls for the day. He gaggled with reporters after, sound I would use for my 6 p.m. story.  My 4 p.m. would be sound I got with Dr. Ben Carson right after the debate (working ahead) and my 5 p.m. would be on the impact of the weather on election day.

5 p.m.: Potential impact for Kasich of snow on New Hampshire election.



6 p.m. live shot: Kasich last day of campaigning.


From there we headed north to Hooksett, to a place called Robie’s General Store set along railroad tracks it had been for years a political stopping off point and it was here that Kasich chose to rally his supporters one last time and send his campaign bus off to South Carolina.


11 p.m. Kasich outdoor GOTV rally in Hooksett, NH

Tuesday February 9, 2016: Election Day: Once again an early start as we met up with Kasich at a Manchester polling place to greet poll workers and supporters. The gaggle of media was thick around him so much so that my photographer had to shoot the governor with the camera atop of his head not even knowing if he was in frame. This setting made up most of our 5 p.m. story.

5 p.m. Kasich gets in last minute campaigning on Election Day

As the governor and his entourage made their way back to their motorcade my cameraman and I made our way back to our car as the motorcade drove by Kasich stopped and rolled down his window waving my cameraman off we talked privately which was really my first indication of the big night ahead for him.


From the school we went to a local Manchester diner where Sirius radio was hosting its political shows all day. Kasich was there to appear on Michael Smerconish’s show. In the many degrees of separation Michael and I both worked on the Frank Rizzo mayoral campaign in Philadelphia in 1987.


Outside after I had a chance to talk with Kasich on camera and this made up our 6 p.m. report.

Kasich serves up coffee to voters on Election Day in New Hampshire.

From the start of the poll results coming in Kasich was in second place, a lead that would hold through the night with Fox calling his second place finish. He was ready to address his supporters early but had to wait for Clinton, Sanders and Trump to finish to ensure the networks would take his speech live.


This unfortunately left us little time to turn the sound for 11 p.m. Nevertheless we make it simple and quick and got it fed back just in time for air.

Kasich addresses supporters following 2nd place finish in New Hampshire.












The Charles Ramsey Collection: A look at the making of an internet sensation

June 22, 2013

John Kosich wraps up interview with Charles Ramsey as he gives the thumbs up on his way to internet stardom.

John Kosich wraps up interview with Charles Ramsey as he gives the thumbs up on his way to internet stardom.

In 23 years of working in television news I have never had a week, like the one that started around 6:30 p.m. May 6, 2013.

While waiting for a story to start in Bay Village, my photographer Tom Livingston rolled down the window of his live truck “I’m being pulled, you’re staying,” he told me. The assignment desk had just called and said some woman called 9-1-1 saying she was Amanda Berry, a Cleveland woman who disappeared ten years earlier on the eve of her 17th birthday.

So out of right field was this news that he immediately followed it without missing a beat with “so I’ll be right back.”

The news as well didn’t strike me as being real either. We had covered so many false hopes over the years in the search for Amanda and Gina DeJesus, who vanished a year later only a short walk away from where Amanda was last seen.

We had anxiously waited along with both families on two different occasions when police acting on credible tips dug up an empty lot and the garage of a home looking for Amanda and Gina’s bodies respectively.

So this latest news had to be just someone making a sick crank call to police.

Just a few minutes after Livingston left with the live truck, that perception would change when the assignment desk called my cell phone and in an urgent voice said you have to go, it looks like Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus have both been found and they’re both alive!

How I didn’t get a speeding ticket I don’t know but as I raced to Seymour Avenue on Cleveland’s west side my stomach began to turn in a way I had rarely felt. So many years of seeing the pain and anguish in these families faces as they gathered each April to mark the respective anniversaries of the girls’ disappearances, could it really be ending?

As I pulled up to Seymour Avenue I ditched the car on West 25th and made my way through the growing crowd, Livingston was already setting up the truck to establish a live shot I began scanning the crowd looking for familiar faces from either family to get confirmation.

It was in this time that I overheard a man telling his story of the rescue, the man was Charles Ramsey.

As I waited for them to come to me on the air I began interviewing Charles on tape because I didn’t want to lose him in the crowd and he told me of the “amazing sh#t” that had just happened.

When they came to me live a minute or two later Charles was still within arm grabbing distance so I immediately brought him in and asked him to tell the story that began with him hearing screaming… the rest is viral video history.

As the interview was going on what was going through my mind was the fact that Charles had just dropped the “S” bomb prior to us going live so my fear was him dropping another on live TV. They were telling me in my ear to wrap it up and toss it back when Charles delivered what would be the most famous line “I knew something was wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Dead giveaway, dead giveaway.”

In my mind I’m thinking OK where are you going with this so I thanked him and tossed it back, thinking it was a really good interview but I’ve interviewed some colorful people before and began the process of just looking for more information, the next interview in this incredible story. I had no idea what was about to follow.

Within an hour the interview was being played and replayed across the country and our website was exploding with hits as the video was quickly becoming viral.

By the time I got back to the station around 12:30 a.m. the numbers were off the charts and several of my co-workers were telling me you watch this is going to get autotuned, something I had never heard of before. They explained it’s when an interview gets so big it’s set to music and if it’s really big the Gregory brothers will take it on… within 24 hours they did.

With the song and with the attention Charles Ramsey began the process of moving from news figure to pop icon. With the interview popping up on shows like TMZ.

Around the same time Jimmy Kimmel was introducing an even wider audience to Ramsey.

And then came the Taiwanese cartoon recreation of the interview.

I’ve had some amazing interviews over my career, amazing in the sense that the individuals were amazing because of who they were, presidents, celebrities.

This interview ended up surpassing them all in terms of global reach not because of who Charles Ramsey was but what he did and the timing of his coming forward so early in a process where people were starving for insight information into this unimaginable tale.

The global news vacuum in the early stages of this story transformed him in a matter 2-3 hours from a guy eating McDonalds to an international figure.

One of the many Charles Ramsey shirts available for sale on the internet

One of the many Charles Ramsey shirts available for sale on the internet

Finally the French take on the Charles Ramsey phenomena.