Michael Riedel Remembers an Influential Early Colleague

Former UPI photographer and WKCR-FM host Ezio Petersen passed away Jan. 25.

WKCRFMLogoThe tributes are pouring in for Ezio Petersen, a photographer and radio host who worked over the years for UPI and the New York Post. He passed away on Monday.

Pat Benic, UPI’s director of photography, called Petersen “a special person with a great heart.” And over at Playbill, New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel recalled some early experiences at Columbia University’s radio station:

“I was Ezio’s co-host on his musical theater show on WKCR when I was a student at Columbia. His knowledge of musicals was vast, and he had an extraordinary collection of tape recordings of shows. He never told me how he did it, but he was able to plug into the sound systems of every Broadway musical in previews. He had the entire score to Legs Diamond on tape by the second preview!”

“He was a generous co-host. Columbia required that a student be on every show, but Ezio treated me as professional, even though I had no idea what I was doing. It took me two years to figure out how to turn on the microphone. I do a lot of radio now, and if I’m any good, it’s because I spent three years with Ezio every Sunday night from nine until midnight.”

Playbill also has some thoughts from various press agents and publicists who knew Petersen. Read them here.

When Petersen’s WKCR program ended in 1997, it was for the oddest of reasons. Again, from Playbill:

The program director for the station, Jason Das, called host Petersen and told him the show had been dropped because Petersen had neglected to take a new exam to show proficiency with the Emergency Broadcast System (which was changed to the Emergency Alert System). Petersen told Playbill he’d seen flyers for the exam posted at the station for over a month, “but I just read it and zoned on it. It’s not a hard system – it takes two minutes to learn – and I know what I’m doing. I asked Jason [Das] why not just suspend me instead of cancelling the show? I pointed out the notice was posted for new programmers but I wasn’t sure if long-term broadcasters were also affected. The board said they tried to reach me and co-host Ken Bloom before the deadline about this, but this is not true.”

In recent years, Petersen, retired from photography, hosted a weekly Internet radio show called Musical Theater Today. RIP.