NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former New York City mayor Ed Koch passed away Friday at the age of 88. Known for his outspoken personality and famous remarks, Koch was not shy about speaking his mind, often giving reporters plenty to report about.
CBS 2, WCBS 880 and 1010 WINS’ reporters share their memories of covering Koch through the years.
WCBS 880’s City Hall Reporter Rich Lamb, who spent many years covering Koch, called the former mayor a symbol of New York.
“Ed Koch was such a character. He was a wonderful guy who really represented New York in such a fabulous way,” Lamb said. “He was the greatest cheerleader New York ever saw. He was so positive about the city at a time when so many people did not believe in it. He lifted the whole city up and it was then that it began to turn around.”
LISTEN: WCBS 880 City Hall Reporter Rich Lamb Reflects On The Life Of Ed Koch
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell said Koch was “just a wonderful man.”
“He loved being in on everything that was happening,” she said. “He wanted a center stage.”
Looking back at the transit strike that crippled the city in 1980, Cornell remembered how Koch joined New Yorkers who were forced to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge instead of jumping aboard a bus or subway train.
LISTEN: WCBS 880 Reporter Irene Cornell On The Life And Times Of Ed Koch
“The mayor was up on the fourth floor at police headquarters and just saw scores — hundreds of New Yorkers trekking across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to work and you could just see the light go on in his head,” she said. “Koch put himself right out there on the bridge and he’s walking with the masses and he’s talking to people and he’s saying, ‘Walk the bridge! Walk the bridge! New Yorkers can do it!’ He was just a morale booster, a cheerleader and he was going to be there for New Yorkers.”
During that strike, 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks said Koch stood his ground.
“I went out on the bridge with him and he thanked all the workers and then a guy came by on a bike who didn’t like the mayor’s stand and called a ‘union busting so-and-so’ and yelled at the mayor,” Brooks said. “But Ed Koch stood his ground there and called him a name and said ‘unions aren’t going to run this city’ and he got an applause from the crowd and walked back down to City Hall.”
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks: Koch Was A Wonderful Speaker
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer said Koch was one of the city’s most-loved mayors.
WATCH: CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer Remembers Ed Koch
“I can tell you that wherever you went around the world — and I had the opportunity, literally, to travel all around the world on many continents with Ed Koch — he was known, he was loved and he was a person who was larger than life,” she said. “I’ve covered politics for a very long time and I have never in my long career met anybody who could be as controversial and charming and puckish as Ed Koch.”
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa said Koch was known by the media for saying “That’s ridiculous” when he thought a reporter’s question or idea wasn’t up to snuff.
“He bounded in and out of City Hall with his irrepressible style,” she said. “Mayor Koch didn’t shy away or avoid reporters. He loved the banter, loved the Q&A, loved expressing himself.”
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa: Koch Didn’t Shy Away From Controversy
She said Koch would often hold what became known as “radiator news conferences” — giving comments to reporters waiting for him at the big, round radiators located in the lobby of City Hall.
“Unless he was in some real big hurry, he never shied away or shood us away. There hasn’t accessibility with a mayor like that ever since,” Papa said. “He respected the job reporters had to do, he respected the First Amendment.”
New York Press Club President Larry Seary also issued a statement Friday remembering the former mayor.
“The New York Press Club and the many members who covered Ed Koch over the years, mourn the passing of one of New York City’s most memorable and quotable politicians,” Seary said. “Many of us will long remember the thousands of missives he gave us and the pages of copy brightened by his words. We will miss him and send condolences to his family.”
What is your favorite memory of Koch? Share it below.