I Wish I Had Known Jerry Nachman

Jerry Nachman died overnight last night at his home in Hoboken, NJ. If the name isn’t familiar, you might remember seeing him on MSNBC. Nachman was a large man physically and a giant in the business. He was 57, but could have passed for older.

I didn’t know Jerry Nachman. – only met him briefly one night here at the TV station. I had some minimal contact with him while he was editor of The New York Post.

It was a major holiday – probably Easter – at least 10 years ago. Helaine, Steffie and I had driven to Philadelphia to visit Helaine’s parents. On the way back, we waited an eternity to cross the George Washington Bridge. As we approached the toll plaza, I saw some of the booths (on this incredibly busy travel night) weren’t open. I asked, and the toll booth operator offered up, not enough people had been scheduled. The seemed very uncaring on the part of the Port Authority, who runs the bridge.

This was costing people untold hours, and costing businesses money. It wasn’t a story for my station, but it did seem like something for the Post. I wrote Jerry – and he responded. It felt like he was listening, interested and involved… and all because he took 10 seconds and put pen to paper.

I know of Jerry Nachman because of his reputation. He was a radio newsman, TV newsman and manager, newspaper editor, writer… you get the idea. If you look at all of his jobs, you get the feeling that people met him, realized he was really smart, and knew he could do whatever he set out to do.

There is a story that I’ve heard more than a few times. He was news director at WNBC-TV. There was a break in a big story, but no reporter to cover it. Jerry was in an off-the-air position – a management position. But, he told the crew to stop by his apartment on the way, pick him up, and he would report. It’s tough not to respect that.

Nachman seemed like the kind of guy you’d want to work for. Aggressive in his approach to the business, as if it were sport to him. Smart enough not be threatened. Skilled enough to command respect because he knew how to do his job… and your job too.

He was not a coiffed pretty boy with a ‘ripped’ body. In fact, his face had taken on the shape of a canned ham – not uncommon when you’re physically immense. He was all skill and little glitter. He died too soon.

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