tim russert: buffalo (and america)’s native son.

Ralphie Aversa  —  06/14/2008 — Leave a comment

simply put, it’s a western new york thing.

when you grow up in or around buffalo, and leave for school or work, you take with you a number of strong convictions, vices, and believes.

the buffalo bills and sabres are your teams; wegmans is your supermarket; real chicken wings are not created equal; bison chip dip is the only chip dip; the goo goo dolls are the best rock band ever; jack kemp was a quarterback first, vice presidential candidate second.

and of course, tim russert was the pride of wny, and the authority on all things of which he spoke. western new yorkers essentially held russert in such high regards for the same reasons that most of america did: he embodied the blue collar mentality that his beloved father, “big russ”, taught him while growing up in south buffalo. russert exhibited this in a number of different fashions – his unparrelled preparation when analysing campaign results or grilling politicians on meet the press, the lack of “gimmick” when on camera – he kept it real and kept it simple.

also, it seems russert’s compassion and charity matched his intellect. you certainly know the type of legacy a man left behind when friends, foes, and collegues alike gather on national tv in the immediate aftermath of his death to credit not only russert the analyst, the journalist – but the father, son, and husband.

as a member of the media and a western new yorker, the passing of tim russert certainly struck a number of cords with me. last night when i took to the air here in northeast pa, i spoke briefly about the tragedy, but mentioned how it certainly put things in perspective – on personal and professional levels.

i have “formal training” in journalism – whatever that means these days to you. of course, i attended the newhouse school of public communications, and dual majored at syracuse university in broadcast journalism and marketing. so for me personally, to see a guy without a communications degree succeed to the level that russert did in television, is a sign that russert really, really knew his stuff. as we’ve learned within’ the past 24 hours, apparently no one did their homework as well as russert.

but added to his accomplishments in television are his contributions to family life in america. his two best selling books certainly brought a new dimension and definition to the father-son relationship in this country. it brings about more sorrow that russert died right before father’s day, after celebrating his son luke’s graduation from boston college.

then again, maybe that’s the way the man above planned it – so we could all remember and celebrate the legacy of tim russert throughout this father’s day weekend. although i know my fellow western new yorkers and many more throughout the country will remember russert for a long time to come, whether we are sharing a special moment with dad or tuning in to political coverage of an election.

or maybe for us buffalonians, cheering on our beloved bills – hoping that tim is talking to the big man about maybe delivering a big win.

Ralphie Aversa

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