Mike Pintek

KDKA Radio's Mike Pintek Has Died at Age 65

Mike had been battling pancreatic cancer since May 2017

September 12, 2018 - 8:02 am

Related: Mike Pintek Through The Years

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - KDKA Radio talk show host Mike Pintek passed away early Wednesday morning at the Vincentian Home in McCandless after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Pintek was 65.

For over 30 years, Pintek was the host of “The Mike Pintek Show” on KDKA Radio, which aired weekdays from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  In May of 2017, he was diagnosed with the disease but continued to broadcast his talk show.  His condition was inoperable, so he began an aggressive form of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and participated in experimental drug studies to ward off the illness, all while continuing to entertain his thousands of listeners daily on KDKA Radio. Pintek was forced to take a leave of absence in late June of this year when his treatment was interrupted by a stroke.

Mike came to KDKA Radio in 1982 not as a talk show host but as a reporter. In 1985, he shifted to the role of talk show host and soon became one of Pittsburgh’s most influential voices.  He also worked on KDKA-TV as the host of “Pittsburgh 2-Day” and would serve as the station’s news break anchor.

Mike got his start in radio as a news director / anchor at WNOW in York, PA in 1974. In 1976, he moved to the state capitol to work at top 40 station WKBO Harrisburg, where he worked in the news department with the late Fred Honsberger. Honsberger left WKBO to join KDKA Radio and Mike was named News Director at the station. 

It was at WKBO in 1979 that Pintek broke one of the biggest stories of his career.   In the early morning of March 28, Pintek and then WKBO traffic reporter Dave Edwards noticed that steam was not emanating from the cooling towers at the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in nearby Middletown, and that fire companies had been dispatched to the scene.  Pintek’s call to the company to investigate the incident led to him being transferred to the main control room, where he confirmed that it was not a fire, but a problem with reactor number two.  Pintek was the first to report the news of the incident, which soon became the most significant accident in the U.S commercial nuclear power history.  The accident resulted in a number of changes and new regulations for the nuclear industry. 

That nose for news served Pintek well as he soon made the transition to talk. After a two year stint as the morning news anchor at WASH-FM in Washington, D.C., Pintek moved to Pittsburgh to join his former colleague Honsberger at the legendary KDKA Radio. 

It was that news acumen that led Pintek to become a great talk show host.  KDKA Radio News Director P.J. Kumanchik said, “I think that’s what made him such a great talk show host because in terms of information, Mike was pretty much spot on.”

KDKA Radio Program Director Jim Graci explains why Mike was so successful for so long.  “He was constantly trying to seek opinions from his listening audience. He loved to talk to his listeners.  He loved that bi-play. However, if you were going to debate him, you better be bringing it.”

He knew the facts and he certainly had opinions. KDKA Radio Morning Show co-host Larry Richert says Mike’s take was always unique.  “Even if it was obvious to you and me something might be one way, Mike had an ability to see it another way and wasn’t afraid to express that.”

Sports director Jeff Hathhorn says Mike was the same off the air as he was on the air. “Mike had a thirst for knowledge, that’s why he always asked questions of everybody.  It annoyed some people though as Mike could be very direct.”

One of those people who Mike was direct with on his very first day was producer Andrew Limberg.  “The first day I came into produce his show, he looked at me and said ‘who the hell are you?’ I’ve never been more intimidated in my professional career,” said Limberg. “I grew up listening to Mike and eventually he started trusting me. We developed a friendship that I will cherish for the rest of my life. He was blunt and in your face but he was also incredibly funny and always willing to listen.” 

In addition to his radio and television work, Mike appeared in the ABC Television movie “Dead and Alive”, filmed in Pittsburgh in 1991 in the role of reporter Craig Shaw.

Mike would often open his show interacting with news anchor Rose Ryan-Douglas who says she cherishes those times.

“I loved it, because we got to interact more, you don’t get to do that during a news cast and I always trusted him with our conversation because he was a newsman first.”

Longtime KDKA Radio host Rob Pratte worked with Pintek for years on Saturday mornings and said he was a perfectionist. “If you’d see his penmanship, one of the last to use a real pen that you actually dip into ink,” said Pratte. “His penmanship was an absolute thing of beauty, I mean artwork. Everything he did was class(y).”

Pintek disclosed his illness more than a year ago to his listeners.  “And I decided to tell you because you are my family, my extended family because radio listeners are family.  It’s a very intimate relationship because radio is the most intimate medium we have,” said Pintek.

Mike said making the announcement was one of the hardest things he ever had to do on the air.

“I succumb every now and then to say: why me?  And I did a little bit of that.  But the better question is: why not me? Why am I special?”

Pintek was special, and his listeners and co-workers at KDKA Radio will never forget him.

Pintek leaves behind his longtime partner Linda Guiler and her daughter Hadley,  and sister Mary Ann Krynock (Dennis).  He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary and Carl Pintek.

Services for Pintek are pending at this time.

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