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Obits

Former KVUE General Manager Dies

Joe Jerkins, the former president and general manager of KVUE, died Tuesday from leukemia. He led the Austin ABC affiliate from 1979 to 1989 and served as president of the Texas Association of Broadcasters in 1991.

Watch KVUE’s tribute to Jerkins above. [h/t Austin 360]

Former WOWT Reporter Dies of Cancer

Jim Fagin, former reporter for WOWT, died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

According to WOWT, the former reporter for the Omaha, NE, NBC affiliate was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. After undergoing treatment and being declared cancer free, the cancer returned.

In addition to reporting for WOWT, Fagin also once served as communications director for Nebraska Senator J.J. Exon and former Senator Ben Nelson.

VP and GM of KSWB Ray Schonbak Dies

schonbak_croppedRay Schonbak, vice president and general manager of KSWB, has died of cancer.

Schonbak’s career stretched over five decades. Most recently he was the vice president and general manager of Tribune’s San Diego FOX affiliate.

After serving two combat tours in Vietnam as a member of the elite Green Beret’s Schonbak began his broadcasting career as an account executive at a station in Portland, ME.

Schonbak worked in sales management at KOA in Denver (now KCNC) and later served as GSM at WRGB in Albany, NY.  He was also GM of WTCN (now KARE) in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, and led the team that launched KDAF in Dallas, TX, which at the time was one of the first FOX affiliates in the country.

After forming Triad Communications, he worked as a broker buying and selling TV stations, served as group vice president for Benedek Broadcasting, worked for Koplar Communications, and led 16 FOX affiliated stations while serving as COO of Emmis Communications.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years Deborah. Schonbak was 70.

Former Duluth Anchor and Producer Dick Wallack Dies

wallack_kbjrDick Wallack, former anchor anchor and producer for Duluth, MN, NBC station KBJR has died.

Wallack started his carer in radio before joining WDIO in 1966 as news anchor.  After five years, he moved over to KBJR. Wallack later produced the “Live at Five” news anchored by Barbara Reyelts.

He is survived by his wife Sharon, who has worked at the Northland’s News Center, which houses both KBJR and KDLH, as a receptionist since 1969.

Wallack was 82. You can watch the station’s announcement of Wallack’s death after the jump. Read more

Rockford Meteorologist Eric Nefstead Dies

nefstead_obitEric Nefstead, meteorologist for WTVO-WQRF, died in his home Saturday after what the station said was a long illness.

Nefstead had been battling health issues all year and had taken a leave of absence from the Rockford ABC and FOX duopoly last January.

Chief meteorologist Candice King said Nefstead was like a grandpa to her. She remembered him for his uncanny ability to predict the weather. “I remember one time during winter he came in after the morning show – it was snowing – looked at a visible satellite image and said…’The snow isn’t going to last long,’” said King. “‘See those clouds there…the snow will be ending soon – probably in 45 minutes.’  And sure enough…down to the minute the snow ended.”

Nefstead had once been chief meteorologist at Rockford’s NBC affiliate WREX. He had also worked in North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Nefstead was 70.

Former WYFF Weathercaster Keisha Kirkland Dies of Cancer

keisha kirklandKeisha Kirkland, a former weathercaster at WYFF in Greenville, S.C., has died of lung cancer. She was 41.

Kirkland, who did not smoke, was diagnosed shortly after she joined WYFF in 2008, according to the station. She continued to work at WYFF while undergoing treatment before finally signing off in May 2013. Here’s more from the station’s obituary:

Keisha, a native of Danville, Ky., attended the University of Louisville. During her senior year of chiropractic school at Life University, Keisha learned she had pituitary macro adenoma. After several brain surgeries, temporary paralysis, and a painstaking recovery, Keisha beat the diagnosis. She earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Life University, graduating with honors in 2000.

Keisha’s husband is former Clemson star and NFL All-Pro linebacker Levon Kirkland. When Keisha was diagnosed, their daughter, Kennedy, was 5.

WNYW’s Duke Castiglione Remembers Legendary Sports Anchor Bill Mazer

WNYW sports anchor Duke Castiglione looked back at the life and career of Bill Mazer, a legendary New York sports anchor who died yesterday at the age of 92 (video above).

Mazer retired in 2009 after almost 60 years in radio and television. He joined WNEW (which eventually became WNYW)  in 1971, anchoring the nightly sports coverage and hosting “Sports Extra.” Castiglione now hosts “Sports Extra,” the weekly Sunday night program on the Fox owned station.

“We as sportscasters and sports fans owe a debt of gratitude to Bill Mazer,” Castiglione said. “Myself especially.”

Former Houston Anchor Alan Hemberger Dies

hemberger_ktrkAlan Hemberger, former anchor for Houston ABC owned station KTRK, was found dead at his home in Massachusetts over the weekend.

According to KTRK, he was found after family members asked authorities to check on him when they couldn’t reach him.

Hemberger anchored the 5:00 p.m. news for nine years starting in 1989.

KTRK said in a statement, “Alan’s friends and former co-workers at KTRK-TV are saddened by his passing. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”

The cause of death hasn’t been determined. He was 65.

WTMJ Managing Editor Jim Cullen Dies

jim cullen_304x200Jim Cullen, the managing editor of Milwaukee NBC affiliate WTMJ, died Wednesday of brain cancer.

Cullen was the station’s “colorful, lovable managing editor” for 15 years, according to WTMJ. He was diagnosed two years ago with brain cancer. His first granchild was born last month. “We miss you Jimmy. We know you’re in a better place, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” anchor Mike Jacobs said in an on-air tribute Wednesday.

Watch WTMJ’s report after the jump. Read more

Former KMSP Anchor and Minnesota Senator Rod Grams Dies

Rod GramsRod Grams, a former Minnesota anchor, congressman and senator, has died, the Associated Press reports. Grams was 65.

Before he entered politics in 1992, Grams spent 10 years as the primary anchor for KMSP, the Fox O&O in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district, in 1992. Two years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served a single term from 1995 to 2001.

According to KMSP, Grams was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer two years ago. He entered hospice care in September.

“He set the bar high,” former co-anchor Heather Harden said of Grams. “He had a quiet strength about him.”

After the jump, a clip from the 1980s of Grams anchoring at WIFR in Rockford. Read more

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