Quintessential New York newsman Stan Brooks, who covered everything from the Attica prison uprising to last year's shooting outside the Empire State Building as 1010 WINS radio's senior correspondent, died Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 86.
"He was a giant in the business and he was OK if no one knew," WINS director of news and programming Ben Mevorach told Newsday. "He was never driven by fame or recognition, but by telling great stories, finding the truth and getting home to be with his wife and three sons."
Brooks -- in whose honor Mayor Michael Bloomberg renamed the radio reporters' room in City Hall as The Stan Brooks Radio Room on Dec. 17 -- was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. He had not smoked in decades, his family said. He continued reporting through late November.
"Stan Brooks was an institution in New York journalism," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said in prepared remarks. "As police Commissioner, I've had the pleasure to be on the other end of many of Stan's questions and, first and foremost, he was fair and accurate."
Before joining WINS in 1962, he spent 11 years as a reporter for Newsday. "Stan loved his time at Newsday," Mevorach said.
"He treasured those early days chasing down stories and then cranking them out. Somewhere in a shoe box in his apartment are some of his clips from those days. He knew exactly where the shoe box was and made very certain it was well protected."
Brooksie, as friends called him, was working the night shift at the paper when he left. "The main reason he looked for a new job was because he had children and wanted to work dayside so he could spend more time with them," Mevorach said."He could do anything," recalled his Newsday colleague Harvey Aronson, 84, of Fort Salonga, who now teaches journalism at Stony Brook University. "He was a very good writer; he was an excellent editor."
Friends since their days at Syracuse University, where they both worked for The Daily Orange, Aronson called Brooks "a modest man, with a great sense of humor, and just incredibly brave" after his diagnosis.Born in 1927 in the Bronx, where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School and wrote for its paper, Brooks attended the City College of New York before being drafted in 1945. Upon his return and his graduation from Syracuse, he went to work at Newsday.
WINS was a rock-music station when he joined it in 1962, doing two-minute newscasts at the top of each hour. In April 1965, when WINS became one of the nation's first all-news radio stations, Brooks became its first news director.
He became national correspondent two years later, covering major news of the day.
Among those events were civil rights marches, the Watts riots in Los Angeles, the violence-torn 1968 Democratic convention, the "Dog Day Afternoon" Brooklyn bank robbery, the crash of TWA Flight 800, the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and many others. His final story, on Nov. 21, was on New York's mayoral transition and city budget.His wife, Lynn, died unexpectedly on May 4, a day after the couple's 60th anniversary, said their oldest son, Rick, a Rhode Island government official.
Brooks also is survived by sons George, an acclaimed jazz musician, and Bennett, a public-policy mediator; and several grandchildren. "He was equally dedicated and impassioned with his work and with his family," Rick Brooks said. "He gave his heart and soul to his wife, his children, his co-workers and his listeners."