As someone who believed in the premise that if you're going to do something, you should do it well, Kevin Reilly developed a passion and almost encyclopedic knowledge for everything from electronics to music and cinema. It also led the Huntington resident to succeed in a varied 40-year career in broadcasting that included the roles of reporter, anchor, producer and technician.
"He had this global curiosity where he could get into something and master the details and be able to do all these different things," said his sister, Eileen Farrell Reilly of Brooklyn.
Kevin Reilly died Saturday of a pulmonary embolism in Key West, Fla., while visiting his brother Edward. He was 57.
Although interested in radio from a young age - Reilly was building radios by 12, and at 20 made Eileen her own radio receiver when she couldn't afford to buy a stereo - he was eyeing a career in graphic design when he enrolled at Hofstra University. But on his first day on campus, he walked through the doors of the university radio station and was hooked. He auditioned and was on air by nightfall, said longtime friend Barbara Hagan of Huntington.
Blessed, his sister said, with a "radio voice," Reilly went on to work as a newsman at various Long Island radio stations and as a reporter for a local cable television news program. He would then work as a reporter, anchor and news director at television stations in Tucson, Ariz., Anchorage, Alaska, Portland and Seattle.
In 1992, he moved to Nashville and began producing three series, including "NHRA Today," a weekly program about drag racing. This amused his family, said Eileen Reilly, who relentlessly teased him about the time he killed his car by forgetting to put oil in it.
Reilly also spent nearly a decade as a local host of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." In 2004, he returned to Long Island to be closer to family and friends and was hired as a producer for Cablevision's VOOM High-Definition news network. Since 2007, Reilly worked as an operations supervisor at the Home Box Office satellite uplink facility in Hauppauge.
Eileen Reilly said her brother would not hesitate to come to a sibling's house to program their television, help them pack or offer his expert gift-wrapping abilities. Always on hand were healthy doses of Reilly's sharp wit.
Reilly also is survived by sisters Rita Siebenaler of Arlington, Va., and Susanne Srihari of upstate Thornwood; and brothers Edward and Vincent, both of Breezy Point.
Mass will be said Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at St. Genevieve's Roman Catholic Church in Breezy Point, followed by burial at Holy Cross Cemetery in Flatbush, Brooklyn. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made in Reilly's name to the Ali Forney Center.