I will always remember my friend Ed Koch. He made all of us proud to be a New Yorker.
The fact of the matter is they don’t make politicians like Koch anymore. Koch was not a phony. You knew exactly where you stood with him. Over my 30-year relationship with the mayor, he was the same person in private as he was in public.
Every week for many, many years I interviewed Koch on Television. I saw him at his best, and when his health started failing over the years, but Koch would always bounce back.
Isn’t that the story of the city he governed for 3 terms? Koch played a major role in turning around the finances of NYC. Many of us forget it was his leadership in bringing the city out of the Financial Control Board Period. He also refused to let the subway strike cripple the city, walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Koch had a flare that few could back then, or even now match.
He was always the chief cheerleader of New York, the Big Apple.
His public trademark question to New Yorkers was “how am I doing?” to New Yorkers.”
But to know Ed Koch is to be aware that he was also concerned with how people were doing privately.
I broke bread with Koch a few months ago. I met him at his lower Manhattan apartment. As someone on television who is used to being stopped and recognized in public, you quickly understand what Koch meant to New York when you were out with him, and that’s because no one else mattered with the public standing next to Koch. All you heard was “Hello Mr. Mayor.” “We miss you Mr. Mayor,” “Will you take this photo with us Mr. Mayor.” And Koch would take those photos, as if it was his job, all these years later after leaving office.
Very few people can redefine themselves after leaving office and stay relevant, but Koch did. The corruption scandal couldn't stop him, and his endorsement meant something. Go ask then-candidate for President Barack Obama. Koch not only endorsed Obama, but also campaigned heavily for him in Florida.
I will always remember looking around Koch’s apartment. He had mementos from his entire tenure as Mayor.
The fact of the matter is, when Koch was mayor, he was a “dream” for myself and other reporters. Koch made the job fun because he was liable to say anything outrageous at any time.
What you saw was what you got.
Our relationship started out kind of rough and difficult, but we became friends over the years. In fact Koch, correctly, would tell people he was the reason why I was on TV… and he was.
After my radio days in the late 80’s, he pushed for CBS to put me on their public affairs show, Sunday Edition, with legendary anchor Jim Jensen, and they did. There was no turning back.
Ed Koch was an icon, combative, larger than life, in your face.
I will miss you Mr. Mayor. Thanks for the memories, and the ride.