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Posts Tagged ‘Professionalism’

Paul Draisey, 1956-2012

April 18, 2012 13 comments


These words are hopelessly inadequate so please forgive me. But something really needs to be said about Paul Draisey. Professionally, he’ll be remembered as a radio-guy, the voice of Loudoun County, Virginia for some four decades. Hell, he was the unofficial Mayor of Loudoun County.

He hired me into my very first radio job at WAGE-AM, in Leesburg, Virginia in 1977. He successfully trained me for my 3rd class FCC license you used to have to get in those days to go on the air and be able to turn the transmitters on and off. He was one of those handful of people in my life who decided to take a chance on a green, hungry kid who was looking for a future and fell in love, like Paul did, with the medium of radio. It would become a career. It will be 35 years this September. I have him to thank for every penny made and for every accomplishment I have ever achieved in the radio business.

Paul knew everyone and everyone knew Paul. He was tight with the Sheriff’s deputies, the fire and rescue folks, the politicians, teachers, coaches, businessmen and women, just about every charity that ever turned up in Loudoun County. I’ve never really known anyone before or since who so respected, honored and epitomized “community.”

Paul and I kept in touch sporadically through the years, more so when Facebook came along. He read this blog from time to time.

I know he was proud of me as the 19-year-old kid he hired would go on to work at networks like CBS and CNN and ABC and now NPR. In fact, I know, because he told me, that when I took over CNNRadio back in the 1990’s, he had WAGE switch radio networks to CNN. That, my friends, is loyalty.

Let me quote a colleague of Paul’s interviewed for the local Loudoun County newspaper because, really, my own words are beginning to fail me here. These are the observations of Dave Scarangella, another alum of WAGE Radio.

He was a man who cared about Loudoun County and freely devoted his time to a lot of causes, from the USO to the Middleburg Fire Department. He emceed well over a hundred charity events in his lifetime, freely mentored any person who needed help, and seemed to remember ever athlete, coach, politician and businessman he ever met. He was a special person and a great friend.

They say that the measure of a man’s success in life is how many friends he makes along the way. In that regard, Paul was the most successful man I ever knew. He will be missed.

The day Paul died I happened to read something about death that left me deeply moved. The belief by some Native American tribes that a person dies twice in life. The first, is the physical death; the passing of the body. The second death is when all those you ever knew and remembered you also pass; the death of the memory of the individual.

One of those we can do nothing about. But that second death- it is absolutely in our power to pass the word, from generation to generation, to as many people as possible, about the life and good works of those, like Paul, who gave so much of themselves to make their families and their communities whole.

So these words, Paul- are for you, my friend. They are also for your family- your wife, Donna and your kids Brad and Kyle Draisey and Kristen Stennett, to your half-brother, Bill Torrey, and to everyone who never even knew you but whose lives would have been richer if they had.

We love you and we will remember you and we will pass your memory on forever.

When a Good Friend Passes

February 11, 2011 1 comment

That’s Jon Petrovich pictured above. My good, dear friend, my mentor- the man who took a chance on me 15 years ago and gave me a radio network to run. I owe this man everything. He died last night and I seriously need a drink right now.

Jon was so many things in his long and varied career but all too-short life. But, boy, did he live those 63 years. He was a Senior Executive and one of the early pioneers at CNN, an executive at Sony and the Associated Press; an academician, a visionary, a questionable golfer, the most loyal friend a man could have and a guy whose passionate love for his wife Karen and his kids and his grand kid knew no bounds.

When I first met Jon, he was a fellow member of the board of directors of the Radio Television News Directors Association. We became fast friends. In fact, it is with Jon that I had the single, most expensive dinner of my life. Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1993. Jon, then with CNN; Bernie Gershon, then with ABC; and me, then with CBS, invited three colleagues and we had the Chef’s dinner. This is where they set up a table for you in the kitchen, while the chef cooks and describes all ten courses and the alcoholic beverages that accompany each and every one of those ten courses.

The food was terrific, the company was divine, the drinks went down smooth and I want to personally thank CBS, CNN and ABC, who picked up the enourmous tab.  What can I say? It was a different time.

Jon hit the longest drive I’ve ever seen on a golf course. Unusual for him, because his tee-shots usually averaged about 150 yards. But on this day, that damn golf ball hit the cart path in the air and bounced again and again and again until it finally stopped, some 350 yards down the fairway. I’m pretty sure he missed the putt.

So he hired me to run the CNN Radio network in 1996. You know, there are about four people at any given time in this country who actually run radio networks. They don’t write manuals on how to do this stuff. But Jon trusted me. Maybe saw things in me that I didn’t even know I had. And God bless’ em- we kicked ass. We turned that thing from a 300-station lame-o-network and ended up with 1,700 affiliates and went from breaking even to making millions and turned it into the 2nd largest radio news network in America.

And when I was down on my luck, just laid off, sitting in a Manhattan bar on a grey winter day a couple of years ago and wondering how the hell I was going to get my life together again, there was Jon, having a drink with me, giving me tips and urging me on and being a friend. Not feeling the least bit sorry for me, mind you. Son of a bitch didn’t even pick up the tab. But he was there. Fifteen years after he’d hired me and had put his own damn reputation on the line because he believed in me- there he was again, reaching out and making me laugh.

Jon was a big man. Great dresser. Classy. Funny as hell. Brilliant businessman. Wise friend. I loved this man. My God– I am going to miss him.

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A more official accounting of Jon’s professional life from  247newsroom.com:

Jon was one of the executives who helped propel CNN into a world class news gathering operations. He was a guy who was part of a special group of characters who could dazzle you with their courage to experiment and make change – who could make you laugh for hours – and most of all, ‘Petro’ was one of the toughest businessman and news guys that I’ve had the honor to know and call my friend. Petrovich spent 15 years at CNN, including his time developing CNN interactive as well as responsibilities as the leader of Headline News and it’s airport network. He also served a stint as executive VP, international networks, for Sony Pictures Television, and president of the Turner Broadcasting System in Latin America. His list of career credits in broadcast news just go on and on. While many know Jon from his CNN days, he also spent a lot of time at local stations from Louisville, Detroit and Baltimore, where he was a News Director and to St. Louis as a GM.

Class and Professionalism

I write not about the Redskins, per say, but their on-field leader, Donovan McNabb. You can never have too many leaders, and coupled with Coach Shanahan, that’s at least two good ones they have going right now.

McNabb is not only an NFL Quarterback, but he’s a darned good politician and diplomat too. Always says the right things. Never tries to provoke; although he did have one moment after Sunday’s surprising Redskin’s victory in Philadelphia where he showed himself to be human after all. After receiving the game ball, he gave a stirring speech to his teammates and ended it by saying “Everybody makes mistakes in life and they {the Eagles} made one last year.”

Good for him. The Fox Sports commentators said he made a mistake of his own with that statement. Chill a little, Terry Bradshaw. He is allowed to feel and express a moment of personal and professional vindication. If it ends up on the Eagle’s bulletin board next time the teams meet- so be it.

Heading into McNabb’s homecoming in Philly, much had been written about why Eagle’s fans never really embraced him. There seemed to be consensus that McNabb never got mad enough at himself when they lost. He was too even-keeled for Philadelphia.

Uh, excuse me. Since when is being mature and balanced in your approach to your job a bad thing? In fact, if you look at the characteristics of championship sports teams, one constant is that they control their emotions. They don’t get too high when they win. They don’t get too low when they lose. McNabb is the embodiment of a true professional. He did not, on paper, have the greatest statistical game against his former teammates Sunday. But as usual, he was cool when it mattered.

A note on Eagle’s fans. They were pitch-perfect Sunday at Lincoln Field. They showed a lot of class giving McNabb a standing ovation prior to the game. Once the players hit the field, they booed him just as they would any opposing quarterback. And that was cool too.

As for the Skins, I don’t know which team will be showing up week to week, but the one that played Sunday, was tough, gutsy and lucky. Those twin stinkers against the Rams and the Texans are all forgiven now by Redskins Nation. An NFL season is a long grind. I, for one, will never have qualms with a team that misses the playoffs but tries its heart out and shows character in the process.

Those qualities eventually produce a winner.