South Florida’s “Man For All Seasons”
Written By Steve Goodman
If you are one of those who lived through the devastation of Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, then you probably know Tony Segreto. With all other transmission towers damaged in the tremendous storm, only WTVJ, NBC Miami, remained on the air. For many, in a world plunged into chaos, Tony and his collegues Kelly Craig and Brian Norcross were the only were the only contact with sanity and the outside world.
Tony has long been synonymous with South Florida broadcasting, starting and ending his decade-spanning career with WTVJ. “I worked at WTVJ, which originally when I first started back in 1968 was the CBS station, but most of my career was spent there as an owned and operated station for NBC. I was blessed with the opportunity to be with that station for 40 years. In fact, I retired in January 2009, so I was actually a week or two into year 41. I started out basically as a ‘gopher’. I’d ‘go for this’ and ‘go for that’. In fact one of my first jobs was to get Larry King his coffee,” Tony says.
Tony was passionate about broadcasting, and threw himself in to the news biz, learning everything he could, first as a photographer, then an editor, eventually a reporter, and producer, all leading to the position of Sports Director. “I was a sports anchor when my mentor Bernie Rosen retired, and I became Sports Director. The first 27 years of my career I spent in the sports world.”
It was after Tony’s tireless efforts during Andrew, that he became a News Anchor. That was how he spent the rest of his career. “But I kept my finger in sports even though I was doing news. Until he retired, and just recently passed away, I would fill in for George Michael of the Sports Machine, which was a nationally syndicated Sports show.”
Those that know Tony understand that “Do Unto Others” is just something that comes naturally. He would do the things that he does, with or without his “celebrity status.” However, he says he learned early on in his career that those who are blessed have a special obligation to give back. “When I first started in the television business I was mentored by veterans who were not only veterans of their craft, and the execution of their craft, but veterans who believed that in order to really be a success, you needed to give back to the community.”
Tony’s own giving back is of “Hall of Fame” proportions, though he would never think of it that way. To profile all of the organizations he gives of himself to would take up our entire issue, “I am involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I’m on the corporate board of the Boys and Girls Club, and I’m on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Broward. I’m on the Orange Bowl Committee, and I mention that because the Committee is not just involved in the game, but does tremendous outreach into our community. I’m on the Board of Directors of Forever Families. There are so many great causes out there. I just left a Board meeting for 211 Broward, and what a fantastic organization that is. And, of course, I’m working with with Dr. Miller.”
EYE SEE KIDS
Tony is currently the spokesperson for The Eye See Kids Vision Screening Program at the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bruce Miller heads the program. “What Bruce is doing is so selfless. He is just a warrior when it comes to trying to fight the eye issues that so many children have.”
The program is dedicated to detecting Amblyopia, which is more commonly known as “Lazy Eye.” According to Dr. Miller, Amblyopia affects more than one in 50 children, and it is the number one cause of blindness in children 0-5 years old.
Says Tony, “What I think is most alarming is that the child can have it, and they don’t know it, the parents don’t know it, educators don’t know it. And until a child actually gets tested, it goes undetected; and if it goes undetected long enough, it has a tremendous impact on that child, as he or she grows older. I think what Dr. Miller is doing in terms of not only making people aware, but also taking steps to correct it. It’s a Herculean task. He is doing a tremendous job, and getting it done.”
OPEN YOUR HEART
Things are tough. In economic hard times, charitable organizations, such as those that Tony supports, certainly feel the pinch, as they are forced to do more with less.
According to a recent article in USA Today, overall monetary donations to charities dropped in 2008 by about $308 billion. Such disheartening statistics are all the more reason why we are so thankful for folks such as Tony, who are using their status to do what they can to help. However, Tony is the first one to say that there is so much need and so much that individuals can do. He reminds us that anyone can open their hearts, without opening their wallets.
“We are all blessed, in so many ways. If you are reading this magazine, you are blessed, because you have a home it was sent to, or you have a computer you can read it on. I think when you are blessed, it behooves you to give those blessings back in some way. You need to have a passion. That is what my wife and I teach our kids. And no matter what that passion is, you can turn it around and make it a giving passion. I know a lot of people are struggling right now, but you can open your hearts by giving of your time, by giving of your efforts to get involved. We were not put on this Earth just to take. In fact, I think we were put on this Earth more to give than to take.”
Today, retired from broadcasting, Tony continues to be a “Voice in the Darkness” for those in need in South Florida.-DUO