Bill Carey – Bringing the Stories Home

Bill Carey in jeep

By Judy Berman

Working nights in radio is rarely glamorous. But I jumped at the chance in 1984 to work for Bill Carey, the news director at WHEN-AM radio in Liverpool, New York.

When I walked in the newsroom, I could always count on a few things. Bill Carey, with his ever-present cigarette, would be typing away furiously on his typewriter. Whether he was writing a hard-hitting news story or a feature, the end result would be polished, fair and memorable.

I looked forward to listening to his “Year in Review” stories. Carey often intertwined tales of a local murder or politics with clips from TV shows, movies and music sound beds. It was masterful, captivating, and either great fun or heart-wrenching.

In 1983, his annual report focused on the 1981 disappearance of an Auburn woman. Julie Munson had car trouble. A man, in a car behind hers, stopped to check her car. She apparently knew him, and accepted a ride after he told her there was a problem with her car.

Carey said she soon realized there was a problem. Not with her car, but with the man who gave her a ride. She threw her car keys out the window as a sign that she was in trouble.

Eighteen months later, her remains were found in the Montezuma Refuge. Munson’s father noted it was “not the solution we hoped for.”

Carey’s story ended with: “For 18 months, 4 days, the Munsons had left a light on their porch. In early April (1983), that light that had burned brightly for all of those torturous nights … fell dark. Julie Munson would not be coming home.”

In 1984, Carey’s annual report included a story of dirty tricks, intelligence-gathering and politics in Syracuse.

He used movie clips from “The Wizard of Oz” in telling this story involving former police lieutenant, George Georgiade, Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander and Police Chief Thomas Sardino.

Wizard of Oz - 1900

Georgiade blew the whistle on alleged wrongdoing in Alexander’s administration. A county judge ruled that the grand jury reports remain sealed. The reports were critical of the mayor, the police chief and the top lawyers.

As Carey read each of the names, listeners heard the Tin Man (the Mayor), the Cowardly Lion (the Police Chief) and the Munchkins (the top lawyers).

An appellate court directed that the four grand jury reports be filed as public record.

Asked about the outcome, Georgiade said he won the battle.

But, a reporter asked, “Did you win the war?”

“Well, I’m just a small guy,” Georgiade said. “It’s very difficult for a small guy to win a war. It’s enough to win a battle, especially when it’s against City Hall.”

The story ends with Dorothy asking, upon her return from Oz, “doesn’t anybody believe me?”

Then, she declares: “There’s no place like home.”

Later, after Alexander, Sardino and a city hall attorney challenged the ruling, an appeals court decided that the reports remain sealed forever.

Bill Carey

When I think of home, I recall Bill Carey’s stories and how he brought them to life. Thru his writing, we embraced other people’s heartaches as our own. He cast a revealing spotlight on the messiness of politics, and created stories that were unforgettable.

On Aug. 7, 2015, Bill Carey, a senior reporter with Time Warner Cable News, lost his two-year battle with cancer. He is missed.

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Main Photo: Bill Carey in a jeep. (Photo courtesy of John Lisi to Syracuse.com) http://www.localsyr.com/story/d/story/photos-bill-careys-career-in-central-new-york/18835/t6zMb4jW0EiiV8lC9G6lqQ

Photo: Bill Carey doing a standup for television news cast. (I do not own this picture.)

Illustration: Characters from the “Wizard of Oz”  – Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first edition. Illustration by W.W. Denslow (d. 1915)

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36 thoughts on “Bill Carey – Bringing the Stories Home

      1. You were living a dream come true, Judy. I appreciate how you share stories of several famous people you have met, confirming as far as I remember that they were what their images were. This was just an awesome experience.

      2. Wasn’t it you who complimented that famous dark and long-haired Howard Stern? Someone mentioned he was a nice guy. . . I am also thinking there was a band musicisn/ singer that you said was very nice in a comment on my post. My memory has been shaky. Less sleep and excitement about DIL in hospital today having baby boy. She has been there with son since 6 am and I have a fee grandkids here while oldest daughter is at hospital. 🙂

      3. Well, congratulations, Robin. No wonder you’re a bit rattled with a new young’un making his grand appearance.

        I never met Howard Stern, but I did find him likable in a movie about him. Great PR (public relations). I interviewed Ritchie Havens and he was very gracious and sweet. Chubby Checker – I didn’t meet him, but one of my colleagues got him to give me a shout out (say hello to me) on a taped interview. There have been others, but right now I’m hard pressed to remember. 😉

  1. what a nice tribute to a man who clearly was a caring journalist and much loved person. i’m sorry for your loss and for his entire family’s loss as well.

  2. He really was quite a guy and believed in truth like some of us! The others? Great post and thank you!

  3. That’s a lovely tribute and a reminder that there are some truly good hearted and honest journalists out there. It must have been great working with someone like Bill Carey, Judy.

  4. Bill was a true professional, an asset to Syracuse and a heck of a nice man. Sorry for your personal loss, Judy. We all lost part of our media savvy with his passing. ❤ Great tribute here.

  5. Totally OT, Judy, but I want to ask permission to link to your photo of a Listal photo of American Graffiti. https://earthriderdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/american-graffiti-ron-howard-and-cindy-williams-dancing.jpg I blog for the group NRO blog Postmodern Conservative, often on music-and-culture issues. Here is the first installment of the 3-part essay on AG: http://www.nationalreview.com/postmodern-conservative/421845/carls-rock-songbook-no-113-american-graffiti-and-rock-n-roll-carl Regards, Carl Eric Scott

    1. Carl Eric Scott of PostmodernConservative …Thanks for writing to ask permission to use the photo from American Graffiti. That photo is not mine. Check out the link and ask their permission to use the photo.

  6. He sounded like he great sense of humour, despite the those awful pieces of news he had to tell of. 🙂 There were many satirical shows in Britain tearing certain politicians apart in the 1980’s on TV, but that was comedy – I don’t think news of any kind would have been allowed to have been reported with such humour as to include The Wizard Of Oz characters!! But – times have changed, I’m pretty sure anything goes now! 😉

    That’s a horrible story about the woman who went missing. Still happens today in that kind of way. I’m glad I don’t drive, I know many of my female friends and relatives said they felt safer when they were able to drive a car, and I guess to a large extent that is true, but none of them have a clue how their car works, so any breakdown would be reliant on their breakdown cover being kept up to date, and just how long will they have to wait until help arrives? The driver might need a pee! It’s never as simple as just staying in your car. At least most people have phones now, that might help a little. Still scares me thinking about breaking down in a car, especially at night. 😦

    1. Suzy … The story that included “The Wizard of Oz” was part of an hour-long, end-of-year wrap up. It wouldn’t have worked in a regular newscast, but I loved that piece.

      Bill Carey did get at the heart of a story and make us care about people we’d never met. That young woman’s disappearance was heartbreaking. I often thought about how lucky I was when I was single and had first moved to the city of Syracuse. The nights when I walked home and there was no one there when I got home. Scary, indeed.

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