Washington, D.C. sports media has lost one of its own: Dick Heller.
The renowned Washington Times columnist, reporter and copy editor passed away from complications from lung cancer at the age of 76 on Thursday.
Heller, a D.C. native, was regarded as a mentor to many within the industry who would go on to flourish within the sports landscape, in and around the beltway, and beyond.
“He really was kind of this avuncular Walter Cronkite figure in a way,” said once understudy and Times colleague of 23 years David Elfin, of Heller, a revered figure in D.C. media.
Elfin, who first kept quarters with his parents after returning home to join Heller in writing at The Times, recalled, vividly and fondly, the late night phone calls he’d receive in those early years.
“The phone would ring and my mom would answer, and she would say it was ‘timely old Dick Heller,’” he said. “She thought he was like 70 … he was 45-years-old.”
Another Times colleague, Rick Snider, reminisced of Heller as “a real newspaper man” who placed specific focus on each word he wrote, and every last word he edited.
“It took a lot of yelling as an old-school journalist, but he finally taught me to write a decent story,” Snider said. “I owe everything I have to Dick teaching me the business and I will miss my mentor greatly.”
Heller was not only instrumental to the careers of his own colleagues; he was responsible for the success of others, outside the margins of The Times as well.
Of those remembering and thanking Heller, are four radio hosts – Eric Bickel, John-Paul Flaim, Jason Bishop and John Auville — of the D.C.-based show, “The Sports Junkies (or The Junkies, as they’re referred to colloquially),” who credit Heller with discovering them, going on 18 years ago, and singlehandedly launching their media careers.
Attribution: CBS, Chris Lingebach
Full story: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/03/21/dick-heller-washington-times-columnist-dead-at-76-launched-the-sports-junkies-careers/