Ed Dague, the prolific local newsman and television anchor who charmed both colleagues and viewers with his sharp wit and and reporting skills, has died, according to NewsChannel 13.
He was 76 years old.
Dague’s career in local news was wide-reaching, and spanned across more than four decades at various local stations.
Born in Buffalo, Dague moved into the area to study electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1961.
However, once Dague started school, he began to walk down a different path, after getting involved with the college’s radio station, WRPI. Starting as a broadcaster his freshman year, he was managing the entire station by his senior year.
After graduating in 1966, instead of finding work as an engineer, Dague accepted a position serving as the hockey team’s play-by-play announcer, which he did for three years.
By 1968, he made his first foray into television, working as a technician at WTEN-Channel 10 from 3 to 11 p.m. Yet, Dague’s workday wasn’t over yet; he also served as the overnight DJ at WPTR-1540 AM, playing classical music from midnight until 6 a.m.
Just a year later, Dague moved to WRGB, now CBS6, where he eventually ascended to the position of co-anchor with Ernie Tetrault on the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.
In 1984, Dague moved from WRGB to WNYT and helped that station’s news team go from No. 3 in the market to No. 1. Along with sitting in one of the anchors’ chairs, Dague became the station’s managing editor.
He remained at WNYT as an anchor until he was forced into retirement in 2003 due to a severe and progressive form of arthritis.
Solidying his status as a local icon, Dague was inducted into the New York State Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
News of Dague’s death on Sunday not only prompted an outpouring of condolences to Dague’s family, but also of tributes to the prolific newsman, with many people noting they had grown up watching his broadcasts.
Throughout the day, Dague was described as an icon, as a professional, as a trusted local source of information. For many, Dague was the reason local news became a pillar in their everyday life.
Those who worked with Dague recalled a man who, for all of his immense skill as a broadcaster, always knew how to keep newsroom spirits high.
Liz Bishop of CBS6 worked with Dague during his time at the station, first during his stint as a weekend producer and then as a co-anchor.
“Those were some of the most fun years I ever had at the station,” Bishop said when reached via phone on Sunday.
Bishop said that Dague was one of the “finest minds” she had ever encountered, and lauded his sense of endless curiosity and his penchant for engaging in harmless and fun mischief while at work.
“Here was this walking genius, with this huge sense of fun,” she said.
One of her fondest memories of Dague, she said, was when he started a newsroom kickball game with a ball made of wadded up papers. Dague, who always wore loafers to work, Bishop said, went to kick the makeshift ball so hard that his shoe flew off and out of site. The entire newsroom, she said, then had to help him search the building for his shoe.
In addition to his goofy antics, Bishop said, Dague was also a skilled professional, and a brilliant ad-libber who often was writing his own newscasts to perfection mere moments before a broadcast was slated to start.
“I’ll miss him. I’ll miss what he represented for our industry,” Bishop said.
“He was probably the most brilliant man I’ve ever met,” Jack Aernecke, who worked with Dague during a stint at Albany area radio station, WOKO. “He had an incredible mind.”
Dague, at that point, was the station’s news director. Aernecke, who called Dague “analytical,” said that one of Dague’s main tenets that he preached was for reporters to always have a full and thorough understanding of anything that they were covering.
Once Dague left the station and their paths diverged, Aernecke said he continued to be impressed by Dague’s wit, sense of humor, and savviness as he moved into television, especially where politics were concerned.
“It was just amazing to watch him think through things,” he said.
Rodger Wyland, sports director at NewsChannel 13, said that when he started at the station at just 25-years-old, Dague was the go-to guy for any and all questions, from local sports statistics to journalism ethics in general.
“You kind of gravitated towards guys like Ed,” Wyland said.
Wyland credited Dague with making him a better writer, reporter and story-teller in general. Dague’s door was always open, he said, and he had a calm way of critiquing work that made those who sought his input feel at ease, rather than intimidated. Smart, funny, and friendly, Dague’s personality shined through both on and off the air, he said.
“I honestly believe that if Ed Dague had no script, and just bullet points, he could literally ad-lib an entire newscast,” Wyland said. “It was a pleasure and a learning experience that I was able to enjoy for many years.”