Television news executive Patrick C. Casey, who was until recently executive news director of ABC22 WKEF and FOX45 WRGT in Dayton, Ohio, died Saturday, March 19, in Cincinnati after a 13-month battle with brain cancer. He was 54.
Casey, who spent 30 years working in TV news around the country, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, in February 2010 but continued working, stepping down only a few months ago.
“Pat was an extremely rare and talented news executive who understood and appreciated all aspects of the business,” said John Culliton, a former general manager of KCBS who worked with Casey. “He saw the big picture. He hired and in many cases mentored the best anchors and reporters, identified the most riveting stories and made sure they were executed well and usually first. But he also knew instinctively how to best promote the stories and had great ideas for innovative and income generating partnerships and sponsorships so that the station could win with the ratings and the revenue.”
Born in Washington, D.C., he attended Fairfield U. in Fairfield, Conn., and Loyola College in Baltimore. Shortly after college, Casey worked for then-Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer, and from there was recruited into TV news by John Butte, then news director of Baltimore’s WMAR, who became a mentor and friend to Casey. That assignment desk job at WMAR inspired a news fanatic. He awoke each morning to news radio, watched multiple TV news programs and read dozens of newspapers and websites.
Casey had an eye for discovering talent and championed some of the best in the business before they were household names, including Harvey Levin in L.A. and Jane Skinner in Maine.
His compassion and commitment to community often inspired viewers to tune in day after day. Casey championed breast cancer awareness programs, emergency preparedness specials and bone marrow drives and pulled out all the spots for children in peril.
“Pat stood out from the pack, and not just because he was a dedicated newsman,” said Levin who worked for Casey in Los Angeles and went on to found TMZ. “He had so much humanity. I was always struck by how much he cared about the people we covered. And on an unrelated note, he was one funny dude! I will miss him.”
Casey moved from Baltimore to Washington D.C., where he worked at WJLA, WRC and then WUSA. At WRC, he was part of the investigative team that broke stories related to the death of U. of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.
Casey left D.C. for his first news director post at WCSH in Portland, Maine. From Maine, Casey moved his family to L.A. to join nationally syndicated investigative newsmagazine show “The Crusaders.” Pat advocated for stories that helped, protected and enlightened the viewers and even changed laws.
Casey then spent nearly five years as managing editor of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where his newscasts won Emmys and his reporters broke stories involving the murder of O.J. Simpson’s wife and her friend and the ensuing trial, the death of Frank Sinatra and countless fires, floods and the occasional earthquake. Casey also worked for the nationally syndicated newsmag “Extra” while in L.A.
“There was no one like Pat Casey. He was a person of incredible integrity, loyalty, intelligence and dedication — truly admired and respected by many,” said Beth Laski, who worked for Casey in Los Angeles and is now a PR exec.
In 2000, Casey moved his family to Cincinnati when he landed the news director post at Fox19 WXIX. For five years, he oversaw 5 1/2 hours of locally produced news daily and significantly improved the depth, credibility and quality of the news product.
Four years ago, he was hired to oversee two stations in Dayton, where he achieved dramatic growth in household ratings and key demographics at both stations.
Casey is survived by his wife, Maureen; three children; and two brothers.
Mass of Christian burial will be held Tuesday, March 22, at 6 p.m. at Our Lord Christ the King Church, Cincinnati. Donations to help his family can be sent to the Casey Family Fund, Fifth Third Bank, 2632 Erie Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45208.