Daily News Vet’s Mantra: ‘Hey, Martha’

Former staffer Dick Oliver has died. He was 77.

The passing of Dick Oliver affords the New York Daily News this weekend the bittersweet opportunity to recall halcyon print-era days.

Oliver, before moving on to TV and radio, started out as a copy boy with the paper, rising through the ranks to reporter and assistant managing editor. In the obituary by Larry McShane, current Daily News EIC Arthur Browne paints a vivid newsroom picture:

“Dick Oliver was both the toughest and liveliest of cigar-chomping city editors from the era of clacking typewriters,” recalled Browne. “His mantra was to write ‘Hey, Martha,’ stories, imagining that a husband would call his wife and ask ‘Did you see this?’ on reading a Daily News story.”

As an editor, Oliver worked on a series of 1973 articles by William Sherman about Medicaid fraud that won a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Later, on behalf of WNYW, he was the first reporter to break in with live TV coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Oliver’s father Richard was a New York firefighter, while his mother Christine worked for many years as executive sales director of cosmetics for Bloomingdale’s. Some may also remember Dick from an infamous on-air exchange on Fox 5 with Jim Ryan in July of 2001 (embedded below). RIP.

Pictured: New York Daily News front page from Oct. 30, 1973