MALONE - Broadcaster Neil Drew is gone but not forgotten as he climbed his way up the media ladder to pursue his career in broadcasting.
Mr. Drew passed away on Jan. 30.
Were devastated about what happened, Martz Communications General Manager Michael Boldt said. Were having a tough time as Im sure a lot of listeners are too.
Mr. Boldt came on board only a couple of months after Drew started work for the radio station.
Martz Communications Program Director Drew Scott had worked with Mr. Drew for 13 years and recognized him as close friend, both personally and professionally.
Its not the same around here, he said. He cant be replaced.
According to Mr. Boldt he was colorful storyteller. He told the best stories, he said. But I cant tell you. They are personal and not appropriate for print or air.
We laughed together every day. He was a very family-oriented man, according to his wife, Darlene Dana-Drew. She met him while working as a receptionist at Martz Communications seven years ago. It was meant to be.
Ms. Dana-Drew said despite his broadcasting abilities he was a shy person.
He did not like crowds, she said. But once he got over the initial shyness, the talking was easy.
She said his focus remained on getting the story right until the end of his news career. If it had his name on it, it had better of been accurate, Ms. Dana-Drew said.
Mr. Drew was born and raised in Newport, Vt. His desire to pursue broadcasting began when he was still in high school. After graduating from high school in 1959, he accepted his first job at WKTQ in Maine.
He worked at WKTQ for a year before accepting a position at WEGP in Maine, where he worked as a disc jockey until 1961.
That same year he became part of the WIRY radio in Plattsburgh, shortly thereafter he transferred to WIRYs then newly constructed affiliate station, WIRD, in Lake Placid where he continued to DJ.
In 1962, Mr. Drew became restless with the idea of being a radio DJ so he moved on to work for WNBZ in Saranac Lake. He remained there for one year.
He returned to WIRD in 1963 as the program director. His passion for news reporting began when he was promoted to be WIRD;s news director.
In 1972, Drew was offered a position as an anchorman at WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh. His goal as anchorman was to bring the station to a number one rating in the Northeast.
During the 10-year period he worked with WPTZ, he had the opportunity to interview individuals such as Indira Ghandi, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Kate Smith, Mitch Miller, Colonel Harlan Sanders and Jerry Lewis.
Mr. Drew also hosted the annual WPTZ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon from 1974 to 1979. The broadcast brought in thousands of dollars for the cause.
He quickly became recognized for his personal coverage on many different events and in 198, he was privileged to become the acting news producer for NBC Network News during the Olympics in Lake Placid. There he covered the hockey game between the United States and Russia.
During that time, he was offered a position to work for NBCs Altanta office but declined the big city position as he was a small town man.
Mr. Drew left television in 1982 and found his own production company that specialized in documentaries and commercials that continued until 1994, the year he retired.
But being a newshound at heart, he returned to the broadcast scene in 1997 where he accepted the position of news director at WICY radio in Malone and its affiliate stations, Martz Communications Group. There, his co-workers were more like family.
He worked there for 16 years, presenting news to his listeners.
Despite not being too much older than Mr. Boldt, Mr. Drew became like a grandfather to him.
I enjoyed a lot of our conversations. We talked about politics, sports, he had a great sense of humor, Mr. Boldt said.
Despite the five-decade age difference with the stations other on air personalities, Mr. Drew fit right in, according to Mr. Boldt.
He was already a newsman from his early career. He knew the media, and he knew about pop culture, he said.
Mr. Scott noted that Mr. Drew took several of the young men working for the radio stations under his wing.
They had insight from Neil and he would give them advice for advancing their careers, he said. He was a real mentor to these guys.
Mr. Boldt was Mr. Drews supervisor for the past 16 years. The rule I had with Neil was to cover the news, check sources and dont get me in trouble, he said.
Mr. Drew was professional and he took his job seriously, making sure no mistakes were made in his reports, according to Mr. Boldt.
He told a story in a way the people could relate to, he said.
Scott said Drews reporting style reminded him of the Paul Harvey era.
He would use all of the listeners senses. He would make them feel it, taste it, touch it, Mr. Scott said. Broadcasters now-a-days lack that talent because everything is visual. He had a great talent for writing and delivering the news.
Ms. Dana-Drew said he had enjoyed the length of his career.
He would wake up at three, head out to work at five and wouldnt come home until 1:30 in the afternoon. He loved it, she said.