CLEVELAND - Mark Koontz was a fixture in northeast Ohio TV for 40 years.
Koontz began his television broadcast career here at WEWS, reporting and as the number two forecaster behind Don Webster.
Koontz left WEWS in 1981 for a long career backing up Dick Goddard at WJW and then finishing his long TV career just a few days ago in Youngstown.
Guy D’Astolfo with the Youngstown Vindicator wrote a nice tribute to Koontz you can read by clicking here.
I’ve put a classic WEWS promo from 1980 in the video player which has a quick shot and sound bite from Koontz.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on a mammoth practical joke which will live forever in the annals of Cleveland TV involving Koontz, iconic anchor John Hambrick and film editor Don Mertens.
The story goes Hambrick and Mertens waited for their target Koontz to walk into the newsroom to begin a pre-arranged argument. Mertens told Hambrick he was fed up with his egotistical-anchorman antics. Hambrick escalated the argument, which pushed the film editor to the brink.
Mertens stormed out of the newsroom and another newsroom employee, also in on the prank, yelled out, "Look out, he's coming back!"
Mertens stormed into the newsroom and pulled out a gun – with blanks – and fired it at Hambrick.
The anchorman gave an Acadamy Award-worthy performance. He grabbed his chest and splattered ketchup packets he had hidden in his hands all over himself.
Koontz dove for cover under a newsroom desk and the fun at Koontz's expense was over…so they thought.
What the pranksters didn’t know was an assignment editor was on the phone with a Cleveland police office in the radio room. As the fake shots were fired, the assignment editor said, "Oh! I gotta go!"
The police officer heard shots and having been hung up on, sent the troops running to channel 5 with the call of shots fired.
Hambrick had to do a lot of fast talking to keep them all from going to the pokey.
Other WEWS talent in the promo: Jeff Maynor, Ted Henry, Marge Banks, Don Webster, news director Garry Ritchie, Browns' quarterback Brian Sipe and Gib Shanley.
Enjoy retirement, Mark.
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