KDKA says goodbye to Paul Martino after 50 years on television – CBS Pittsburgh
By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Few can say that they have had a 50-year career in television. Even fewer can say that they started this career when they were only 18 years old. But KDKA’s Paul Martino can say both.
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Allegheny County Manager Rich Fitzgerald declared June 30, 2021 Paul Martino Day in Allegheny County because our friend and colleague retired on Wednesday after an impressive career in broadcasting. The city of Pittsburgh also received honors for Paul.
Paul began his television journey in 1971 as a reporter and presenter at WSIU-TV / FM in Carbondale, Illinois, while a freshman at Southern Illinois University.
While at Carbondale, Paul also worked as a disc jockey and news anchor at WCIL-AM / FM.
In 1976, after graduating from college, Paul moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he worked as a reporter and presenter at WOC-TV / AM.
Two years later, he accepted a job with WGEM-TV / AM in Quincy, Illinois.
And two years later, he moved to Mobile, Alabama, to work at WKRG-TV.
This is where Paul covered one of the biggest stories of his career and inadvertently became part of the story.
In 1981, a drunken retired mobile police officer held the mayor at gunpoint. As this officer held a .357 Magnum at the mayor’s head, Paul managed to defuse the situation and force the officer to surrender.
After four years in Mobile, Paul decided to head north again.
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In 1984 he took a job here at KDKA-TV and, as they say, the rest is history.
Some of Paul’s biggest stories in Pittsburgh include the coverage of the 1985 cocaine scandal involving several Major League Baseball players that took place here in Pittsburgh and the related trials that took place here. Pirate players Dale Berra, Lee Lacy, Lee Mazzilli, John Milner, Dave Parker and Rod Scurry have been swept away by the scandal. The players were all granted immunity in exchange for their testimony. In the end, Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse caterer Curtis Strong and six Pittsburgh-area men were all convicted of cocaine trafficking.
Also in 1985, Paul was part of a team of KDKA journalists that covered one of the worst one-day tornado outbreaks in US history. More than 40 tornadoes hit Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York within nine hours. Nineteen of those tornadoes hit western Pennsylvania, killing 75 people and injuring 800 here. Paul covered the destruction in the Erie County community of Albion, which was essentially destroyed. In 2015, Paul returned to Albion on the 30th anniversary of the devastating tornado that occurred there and found a city rebuilt thanks to the strength, resilience and true courage of its people.
In 1988, Paul covered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Several local people were on the flight, including Westmoreland County college student Beth Ann Johnson whose parents with Paul developed a special relationship while covering the story. He has remained close to the Johnson family over the years and traveled with them and the families of other victims to Washington, DC as they fought for justice for their loved ones.
During his career, Paul also covered the illnesses and deaths of two Pittsburgh mayors: Richard Caliguiri in 1988 and Bob O’Connor in 2006.
In the 1990s, Paul had an award winning series called “You Paid For It”. He and former KDKA investigative producer Stu Samuels have spoken out against all kinds of misuse of taxpayer money in state government. They found that many lawmakers were doubling their expense reports, charging taxpayers for expensive meals at fancy restaurants, fancy cars, and plane tickets, among others. Eventually, many years later, many of these lawmakers served prison time for corruption.
In 1991, Paul was on the ice in Minnesota when the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup, and he covered the fan pandemonium that ensued when the team returned to Pittsburgh. He also covered the Stanley Cup Penguins Championship in 1992, coincidentally in his hometown of Chicago. And although he grew up as a Blackhawks fan, Paul says there was no way he couldn’t encourage the Pens to win back-to-back Stanley Cups!
Paul also spent many years here at the weekend anchor, including many with fellow KDKA retiree Brenda Waters.
When asked what he’s most proud of in his career, Paul says one of the things he’s most proud of is moving to Pittsburgh, taking the job here at KDKA-TV and being a part of it. of the Pittsburgh community both through his work on television and with many charitable organizations he has volunteered with over the years.
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As Paul bids farewell, after 50 years on television including 37 of those years here at KDKA, he shared these words for Pittsburgh and the viewers who have watched him all these years: “I hope I have informed you about your district. I hope I have enlightened you a little. And I hope that sometimes I made your face smile. What an honor and privilege it was to come to you. I love Pittsburgh.