By Gordon Hastings
NEW YORK — I am not exactly sure why but he was always simply, “McCurdy.” Stu Olds would say, “Get McCurdy in here.” Jim Greenwald, “Who’s this guy McCurdy everyone talks about?” “McCurdy taught me,” said many of the dozens of “survivors” of McCurdy’s legendary sales training program. “Call letters, tower height, frequency, all formats, ownerships better know them all.”
“McCurdy.” Katz people always used his surname in much the same way as historians reference Roosevelt, Bush, or Obama. Somehow, “McCurdy,” gave you the complete picture of the man as did the last name of his renowned mentor.
“Wooden.” “Wooden,” as in “The Wizard of Westwood,” UCLA Coach John Wooden. It is no surprise that this great leader of a sport that McCurdy loved became his life’s mentor. It is fair to say that McCurdy idolized Wooden not only for his coaching leadership but for his personal ethos, honesty, and integrity. He communicated regularly with “The Wizard,” until “Coach’s” death in 2002. McCurdy each day did his very best to live up to John Wooden’s standards and instill them in others. He often quoted his mentor when teaching his young charges, “Make each day your masterpiece.”
It is not for me to attribute words to the late Stu Olds but from years of personal observation I am certain that Stu believed McCurdy was the very best with whom he had ever associated. Perhaps the best tribute of all, McCurdy was indeed Stu’s best friend.
For now, and for generations to come, many will owe a deep debt of gratitude to McCurdy. We will miss that tall, debonair, and strikingly handsome gentlemen whose gravitas only heightened as his hair became streaked with grey. Let’s call it for what it was, “wisdom.”
To wife Sydney, his daughters Meagan and Ashley, his sons Michael and Sean, his stepchildren Margaret, Charlie, and Will Emerson and his seven grandchildren, please know that your husband, father, and grandfather was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and that in our world he was indeed a “Star Player.” Most important he was a very good person who set a lasting example of excellence.
I turn to a famous Coach Wooden quote for a most fitting epitaph commemorating the life of McCurdy.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Gordon Hastings is the retired president of Katz Television/Radio. He can be emailed at email@example.com.