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Remembering the man who made me Stellavision September 17, 2009

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
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I doubt there is another moment in life where I felt more insecure. And the fact that 25 years now separate me from the experience that I am about to relay is breathtaking.

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Gabe Dalmath delivered the news to Channel 10 viewers for nearly 30 years.

September 1984. There I was, a scrawny and naïve college student, inside the WHEC-TV (Channel 10) newsroom, nearly two hours into the start of my first internship—a dream come true for this aspiring broadcast journalist. I grew up watching TV-10 News with my family, and I practically idolized the station’s anchors and reporters. And there I was—in their presence—never more out of place.

“Just take a seat over there and keep an ear on the (police) scanners,” the late-news producer said to me. The truth is she had no idea what to do with me. What did I know? And she had no inclination to be my babysitter. (Years later, as a news producer myself—long on responsibilities and short on patience—I would learn to appreciate her situation.)

And so, there I sat, listening to the scanners—for ‘what’ I had no idea. “This is such a mistake,” I started thinking. “I’m not cut out for this.” Moments later, the station’s gregarious male anchor returned from his dinner break carrying dessert to share with coworkers. Even the producer couldn’t contain her delight. It was like somebody opened the window and let in a refreshing breeze.

On the way to his desk, he stopped and looked at me. “Would you like some ice cream?” That’s right, never having seen me before in his life, veteran TV newsman Gabe Dalmath stopped in his tracks to offer me ice cream. I declined—too embarrassed to accept—but for the first time during that excruciating evening, I dared to think that maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.

Gabe was every bit the ‘gentle man’ viewers and his colleagues came to love. There was even a touch of awkwardness in his interactions that was often disarming for those of us who would otherwise be intimidated by a man of such prominence. You couldn’t help but feel at ease in his presence.

But most of all, Gabe was a remarkable storyteller, and he would become among my most important mentors. Writing copy for the broadcast in those early days was such a thrill to me, but the quality of my efforts was frequently lackluster. Rather than just rewrite my stories, he’d always edit them in my presence—show me how to add more punch.

I’ll never forget the night I finally succeeded. It was the introduction to the “kicker,” what we called the light-hearted story that ended each newscast. It was some ridiculous feature on miniature horses and I wrote, “These ponies are no phonies.”

“Yes!” He turned to look at me. “That’s it! I love it.” And then, later that night, to watch him deliver my line on air—well, I was pretty much hooked. Now, I knew I could make this work.

After completing my internship, Channel 10 hired me as a part-time newsroom assistant, and I would continue on at the station after I graduated as a fulltime associate producer. During that time, I would continue to develop great fondness for Gabe, and his fondness for me would even earn me a nickname. For, he would say to me, I did more than produce television—it was Stellavision.

I had always planned on telling the story about how I decided on the name “Stellavision,” and it remained in my mind to wait until the 25th anniversary of my arrival at Channel10. But I am also reminded that it accompanies the 3rd anniversary of when Gabe Dalmath—a mentor and professional inspiration, as well as a warm and caring human being—left us too soon.

It means a lot to me that this outlet for storytelling can, in some very small way, remain a part of Gabe’s legacy.

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Comments»

1. Julie L. - September 17, 2009

Paul–this is amazing….what a tribute to Gabe, who I remember every time I write “more than” instead of “over!” Which is a lot in our business!

Everything you wrote rings so true–sitting inside those same ch. 10 walls for so long….the good ‘ole days, for sure. Thank you for the memories from your heart.

2. Nadia - September 17, 2009

Paul,
What a beautiful tribute–so moving for such a wonderful man.
I loved this story.
Thank you for sharing.

3. Adam P. Bradshaw - September 17, 2009

Paul – What a great read. I was lucky enough to be Gabe’s boss during the last three years of his career. So right on the fact that he was taken from us way too soon…I really miss him. My favorite Gabe moment was going with him to the premiere of “Anchorman.” It was a holiday morning screening and he was all torked up because Klinsky had been on his case about an interaction with a reporter that morning. Watching Gabe crack up at the movie’s mockery of anchors was a priceless moment.

4. Herbie J Pilato - September 17, 2009

Wonderfully captures the true essence of who Gabe was – and remains.

Herbie J Pilato

5. Scott Fybush - September 17, 2009

What a great story, Paul! Gabe inspired and mentored so many of us in the business here in town. I still miss him every time I turn on the TV.

6. shelley - September 17, 2009

Paul, what a wonderful story you told of the relationship between you and Gabe. It was said just beautifully and from the heart. God bless you!

7. Frank Battaglia - September 17, 2009

Brilliant, Paul.

8. Cindee - September 17, 2009

Paul, What a great story. Thanks for sharing.


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