By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Not many people can say they had a 50-year career in television. Even fewer people can say they began that career when they were just 18 years old. But KDKA’s Paul Martino can say both.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Chances For Rain And Storms Return This Weekend
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald declared June 30, 2021, as Paul Martino Day in Allegheny County because our friend and colleague retired Wednesday after an impressive broadcasting career. The city of Pittsburgh also got in on the honors for Paul, too.
Paul began his journey in television back in 1971 as a news reporter and anchor at WSIU-TV/FM in Carbondale, Illinois when he was a freshman at Southern Illinois University.
While in Carbondale, Paul also worked as a disc jockey and news anchor at WCIL-AM/FM.
In 1976, after graduating from college, Paul moved to Davenport, Iowa where he worked as a news reporter and anchor at WOC-TV/AM.
Two years later, he took a job with WGEM-TV/AM in Quincy, Illinois.
And two years after that, he moved to Mobile, Alabama to work at WKRG-TV.
It was there that Paul covered one of the biggest stories of his career, and inadvertently became part of the story.
In 1981, an intoxicated retired Mobile police officer held the mayor at gunpoint. While that officer was holding a .357 Magnum to the mayor’s head, Paul was able to de-escalate the situation and get the officer to surrender.
WATCH: Paul Martino Interview
After four years in Mobile, Paul decided to make the move back north.
In 1984, he took a job here at KDKA-TV and, as they say, the rest is history.
Some of Paul’s biggest stories in Pittsburgh include covering the 1985 cocaine scandal involving several Major League Baseball players that was centered here in Pittsburgh and the trials connected to it which were held here. Pirates players Dale Berra, Lee Lacy, Lee Mazzilli, John Milner, Dave Parker and Rod Scurry were swept up in the scandal. The players were all granted immunity in exchange for their testimony. Ultimately, the Philadelphia Phillies’ clubhouse caterer Curtis Strong and six Pittsburgh-area men were all convicted of dealing cocaine.
Also in 1985, Paul was part of a team of KDKA reporters who covered one of the worst one-day tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. More than 40 tornadoes touched down over the span of nine hours in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Nineteen of those tornadoes hit western Pennsylvania, killing 75 people and injuring 800 here. Paul covered the destruction in the Erie County community of Albion, which was essentially destroyed. In 2015, Paul returned to Albion on the 30th anniversary of the devastating tornado there, and found a town rebuilt by the strength, resilience and true grit of its people.
In 1988, Paul covered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Several local people were on that flight, including college student Beth Ann Johnson of Westmoreland County whose parents Paul developed a special relationship with while covering the story. He’s remained close with the Johnson family over the years, and has traveled with them and other victims’ families to Washington, D.C. as they fought for justice for their loved ones.
During his career, Paul has also covered the illnesses and deaths of two Pittsburgh mayors: Richard Caliguiri in 1988 and Bob O’Connor in 2006.
In the 1990s, Paul had an award-winning series called “You Paid For It.” He and former KDKA investigative producer Stu Samuels exposed all kinds of misuse of taxpayer money in state government. They found many lawmakers double-dipping on their expense reports, charging taxpayers for expensive meals at fancy restaurants, luxury cars and plane tickets, among other things. Eventually, many years later, many of those lawmakers served time in prison for corruption.
In 1991, Paul was on the ice in Minnesota when the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup, and he covered the fan pandemonium that ensued when the team arrived back in Pittsburgh. He also covered the Penguins Stanley Cup championship in 1992, coincidentally in his hometown of Chicago. And despite growing up as a Blackhawks fan, Paul says there was no way he couldn’t root for the Pens to win back-to-back Stanley Cups!
Paul also spent many years here on the weekend anchor desk, including for many years paired with fellow KDKA retiree Brenda Waters.
When asked what he’s most proud of in his career, Paul says one of the things he most proud of is moving to Pittsburgh, taking the job here at KDKA-TV and becoming part of the Pittsburgh community both through his television work and with many charitable organizations he’s volunteered with over the years.MORE NEWS: 1 Dead After Shooting Near Quarry Field In Pittsburgh's South Side Slopes
As Paul bids farewell, after 50 years in television with 37 of those years here at KDKA, he shared these words for Pittsburgh and the viewers who’ve watched him all these years: “I hope I informed you about your neighborhood. I hope I enlightened you a little bit. And I hope sometimes I brought a smile to your face. What an honor and a privilege to come into your home it was. I love Pittsburgh.”