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Adam Lynch: Not Soon Forgotten

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
March 01, 2018
Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

The following is an editorial expressing an individual’s opinion. Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

About 10 years ago, I started tracking down and interviewing people who had worked in radio in the Mon Valley, including at stations such as WMCK/WIXZ (1360) and WEDO (810).

Early on in the process, I left a message for McKeesport native Adam Lynch, the retired newscaster who accomplished the rare feat of working on-screen at all three of Pittsburgh’s major network TV affiliates —- KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV and WPXI-TV. He was living then in Monroeville.

He called me at work the next day. His voice was unmistakable —- my God, what a voice! —- but he was a little bit suspicious. Who was this weirdo calling to ask him about his early days at WEDO?

Finally, he agreed to meet me for lunch at Rene’s in East McKeesport.

We talked for a while over beers, and then Lynch, who died Tuesday at his daughter’s home in Texas*, said, “I was skeptical when you first contacted me, but now I realize that you and I might be the only two people in the world who give a damn about what WEDO radio was like in 1948.”

I was flattered that Lynch wanted to spend several additional lunch hours with me over the next few years, and I coaxed him into delivering a lecture at the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center.

But who am I kidding? It didn’t take much coaxing —- he was a nice person, and if you asked him for a favor, he did it —— although he was a little bit concerned (or at least he said so) that no one would still remember him.

Right now, everyone in Pittsburgh broadcasting —- even semi-amateurs like me —- who met Adam Lynch is remembering him, and it’s likely that anyone who met him will remember him for the rest of their lives.

The Post-Gazette's Dan Gigler wrote that Lynch was known for his “rumbling baritone and sober demeanor,” but that “sober demeanor” was only what you saw on camera.

Off-camera, he was very, very funny (he had a terrific, booming, explosive laugh) and was smart, decent and humble; an amazing conversationalist.

And Lynch was not just an excellent broadcaster, he was an excellent writer. In recent years, he had been writing and selling stories to local and national magazines, and one of his features for Pittsburgh Quarterly won a Golden Quill Award in 2008.

I’m not going to B.S. anyone —- Lynch and I weren’t close —- but my heart broke a little bit last night when I heard he’d passed, because I really did like him, and I feel terrible for his family and many, many friends.

When we last spoke a few years ago, Lynch’s wife, Ellie, whom he adored, was in failing health.

They had sold their house in Monroeville and moved into an apartment, and he wasn’t quite up to getting together again —- but soon, he hoped.

“Call me back in a few months,” he said. I did, and he said, “My wife isn’t well, and I’m just not feeling up to it.” Ellie Lynch passed away in 2016, and Adam Lynch and I lost touch.

Lynch was fiercely proud of having grown up in McKeesport, and was happy to return whenever possible, including for several years when he taught at what’s now known as Penn State Greater Allegheny.

I don’t have easy access to my notes on our conversations, so two stories about Lynch and McKeesport will have to suffice.

As a teen-ager, one of his closest friends was William “Jasper” Ross, who later became a photographer for the Daily News.

Lynch told me he and “Jasper” used to borrow someone’s car and play “roving reporters” around town. One of them would pretend to film using the camera, while the other one would play announcer.

Another story: Lynch worked at WEDO when the studios were located on the upper floor of a building (now demolished) at 547 Fifth Ave., more or less the present-day location of the McKeesport Beer Barrel, across from the Social Security office.

At some point, if I remember correctly, the station began doing a daily 12:30 p.m. live lunchtime broadcast from the window of the G.C. Murphy Co. store at 315 Fifth Ave.

Again, if I remember correctly, he would deliver a newscast from 12 noon to 12:15, and the station would play music for 15 minutes while he ran down the street to Murphy’s to broadcast from the window.

It’s only two blocks, but if you know McKeesport history, you know that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks cut through town between Locust and Sinclair streets.

Often, Lynch said, trains would be passing through town, and he’d barely make it to Murphy’s to begin the broadcast on time —- it’s not like there were cell phones in 1948 so that he could tell the station he wasn’t ready —- so he’d be panting and out-of-breath when he sat down at the microphone and began talking.

Other times, he said, a train would stop on the crossing, and he’d have to climb between the cars —- a dangerous practice —- to make it to Murphy’s by 12:30.

Those stories were much funnier when Adam Lynch told them to me —- and no one laughed harder at them than he did.

My deepest sympathies to Lynch’s daughter, Laura Kresek of San Antonio, Texas, and his son, David Lynch of Tulsa, Okla. A memorial service will be announced at a future date, the family said.

* correction appended, 11:37 p.m. I apologize for the error.

Opinions expressed in commentaries are those of individual authors, and do not represent those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its directors, contributors or volunteers.

Tube City Community Media is committed to printing viewpoints from residents of the McKeesport area and surrounding municipalities. Commentaries are accepted at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for content or length.

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Originally published March 01, 2018.

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