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41st Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Banquet

April 27, 2019, 6 PM cocktails, 7 PM dinner

at Genesee Grande, 1060 East Genesee St, Syracuse

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Our Rundown

Poynter

Frank Rossi

WSTM-TV (WSYR)

WHEN-TV

When Syracuse's infamous former mayor Lee Alexander flew back to New York from incarceration, he looked at the crowd of news people gathered at Rochester's airport and recognized only WSTM-TV photographer Frank Rossi.
"One familiar face!" Alexander exclaimed.

The man, who for 42 years worked behind the camera, was well known by newsmakers from all walks of life. There were news conferences started only after many a politician asked Frank Rossi if his camera was ready so they could start. He was covering television news before there were many reporters in the field, finding himself doing the interviews. It placed a normally silent photographer asking the tough questions of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Or, Senator Robert Kennedy. Or, then former Vice President Richard Nixon.

A lifelong Syracusan, Frank Rossi got into the exciting world of news photography in October 1961, when he went to work for George Brush and Cosmo Santangelo of Syracuse Movie Lab. The company was under contract to WHEN-TV (now WTVH). Frank worked six days a week, at first shooting news film on a Bell and Howell 16mm camera that provided only 30 seconds each time the camera was wound. "It required real judgment on what you would photograph," Frank recalls. Late breaking news was done with Poloroid stills!

That first year contained what Frank says was probably his most difficult story. A young boy had fallen into Onondaga Creek. Frank recalls watching firefighters frantically trying to save the child's life.

"I was crying and shooting at the same time. The firefighters were emotional too. It's never left me. When I saw I could handle that, I knew I could face most anything."

In May 1969, Don Edwards convinced Frank to join WSYR-TV (now WSTM). Cameras and technology was improving, and Frank was soon shooting color film with sound. By 1975, the station switched over to videotape. Frank was named Channel 3's chief photographer in 1978, a position he held until his "retirement" in 1998. He immediately returned to work as a part-time photographer for another five years.

During his career, Frank has covered many big stories, including protests over urban renewal in 1964, riots in 1966, Vietnam war protests in the '70s; murder trials of Cynthia Pugh, Billy Blake, and Delbert Ward; most major fires, including the Markson's Furniture store blaze and the block containing Besdin's Furniture in the early '70s. Frank recalls standing next to then Fire Chief Thomas Hanlon and shooting the Besdin's fire when the front wall came down right in front of them. "Hanlon turned to me and said 'You're nuts!'"

He has covered President Bill Clinton and President Lyndon Johnson. He worked with former WSYR/WSTM reporters who've gone on to network jobs; Jim Axelrod, Bob Costas, Steve Kroft, and Herb Weisbaum. He spent a week in the New York Giants training camp in 1965; covered the Giants-Broncos Super Bowl game in 1986; the Fiesta Bowl in '93; the Sugar Bowl; and the Final Four.

As chief photographer, Frank has provided guidance to numerous photographers who passed through the station in their careers.

He says he most enjoyed shooting photo essays, but there was "never a day I went into work that I didn't want to go into work!"

Married to the former Helen Bennett, they have seven children, 10 grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. In retirement, Frank and Helen are traveling, and Frank spends a lot of time in his favorite pastime, golf. --Jeff Paston
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 November 2008 01:30 )
 

"Give light and the people will find their own way."
SCRIPPS-HOWARD newspapers, motto.

Wall of Distinction


Rod Wood

WIXT

WHEN, WNDR

Club President: 1976

Rod Wood?s interest in news goes back to when he wrote and published a little neighborhood newspaper while he was still in elementary school in Syracuse.
Read more...Link

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