Tom Casey, a fixture on both radio and later television in the Altoona Market, is remembered by friends and former colleagues as a true professional, who had a special way with words.
Casey, real name Tom Streb, died Thursday at the age of 78.
A native of Canton, Ohio, and a graduate of Notre Dame University, Casey came to Altoona in 1967 to work at WRTA-AM, where he did everything from broadcasting football and basketball games- high school ball.
He left radio in the early 1980s to go to WTAJ-TV, where he became well known as “Casey the meteorologist.”
While working at WRTA-AM, he hired boh Karl King and Charlotte Ames.
“He was a good guy,” said the king. “He was a very folksy guy, easy going and well connected to the community. He had a lot of anecdotes and he was a very good guy to work with.
Casey gave Ames his first job in broadcasting in the late 1970s. They then worked together for years at WTAJ-TV.
“He liked my voice and I knew how to read well” said Ames. “He didn’t like my name, he said it wasn’t euphonious, (so) he changed it to Wendy (Chase). He was a character, a very smart, well-educated guy. He had a great sense of humor. He was friendly, but he could be sarcastic. He could also be brutally honest.
At that time, radio stations all had morning crews and reporters.
“It was a fun time being on the radio,” said Ames. “He enjoyed it, he had a beautiful voice, it flowed. He was a natural and very polite communicator.
Joe Shuta also worked with Casey at WRTA-AM in the 1970s.
“He was a great guy” Shuta said. “His vocabulary was great. It was great to work with him. He was a true professional, and he had a talent with words that was so impressive.
Joe Murgo came to WTAJ-TV in 2006 and worked with Casey as he headed into retirement.
Murgo called Casey a great communicator and said his ability to communicate through television was amazing – an art he tries to teach young meteorologists.
“Casey was not a meteorologist, but he was an excellent communicator”, Murgo said. “When he spoke to people through television, I think everyone thought he was speaking directly to him. He had a gift for communication that touched a lot of people.
Jim Frank worked with Casey at the WTAJ from 1990 to 2004 as the station’s news director.
“He had a deep, distinguished baritone voice that was unreal,” says Frank. “He could cut through the camera and speak to the viewer on an equal level. He gave them the information they wanted and needed to know. He was a lifelong friend and a lifelong confidant and a very close friend of mine. He was a smart guy with a quick wit and a good listener. He was a very unique guy. »
Carolyn Donaldson, who worked with Casey for several years at the WTAJ, said he was an early intellectual and a lifelong gentleman.
“He was a storyteller who used the weather as a medium, an accomplished broadcaster who communicated with his viewers and listeners with his wonderful voice, his great use of the English language, the right amount of humor and a genuine and sometimes brutal honesty. . He was a mentor, a colleague, a friend who offered his hand to help you and his heart to listen to you when you needed to be heard. Donaldson posted on Facebook.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer, president and CEO of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, remembers working with Casey when she was athletic director of the WTAJ.
“Casey was a gifted conversational communicator – he spoke to viewers as if they were seated across from him at the kitchen table.” she says. “He was very funny, and he never took himself or the company too seriously. I feel lucky to have worked with him and will be thinking of him on Hall of Fame weather days,” Shaffer said.
Amy Mearkle worked with Casey early in her career at WTAJ-TV. She had two memories that stood out the most.
“I was in the studio doing a feature, and when it was done and we were on commercial break, he was like, ‘Hey Spark, great story. A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. You keep doing it like this and you can do it in this information business”, Mearkle said. “My second memory is when he showed up at my going away party in 2011. He had been retired for a few years by then, and we didn’t see him much. When he walked in , I had tears in my eyes, I was honored that he came back to say goodbye to me.
In a 2014 interview with the Mirror, Casey said he got his nickname from his grandfather.
“Casey was my nickname,” he said. “When I was little, my grandfather called me Casey Jones because I was a child of the choo-choo train. When I worked in Augusta, Georgia and South Bend (Indiana), I was simply called Casey. I was Casey in the morning. Most people still call me Casey when they meet me, and that’s my favorite thing.
Casey is survived by his wife, Patty, and daughters Jennifer and Bridget.
Visitation will be held Friday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sorge Funeral Home, Hollidaysburg, followed immediately by a celebration of life.
For his obituary, please see page A5.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.