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After 36 Years, KDKA Newsman Harold Hayes Signs Off

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Katie Blackley
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90.5 WESA

Following a 36 year long career serving the Pittsburgh community as a reporter for KDKA-TV, Harold Hayes signed off for the last time this past Friday.  During his career, Hayes covered a wide-range of stories including Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and a visit from the Grand Dragon of the KKK to Pittsburgh. 

A native of the South Hills of Pittsburgh, Hayes says he began watching the news when he was just five years old and names Walter Cronkite as his broadcasting idol.  He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1975 with a degree in Speech and Communications.  Hayes began working at KDKA in 1979 as a general assignment reporter.

“Being there 36 years, I had socks older than a lot of the people in the business,” Hayes laughs.

Throughout his career, Hayes has adapted to newsroom changes.  He recalls using type-writers and carbon copies at the beginning of his time reporting to recently tweeting out breaking news from smartphones.  Hayes says ratings in the 1970s were reflective of Pittsburgh only having three news stations.  The introduction of cable made for more competition.

“Time goes on and you’re fighting for a smaller share of an audience that has more options,” Hayes explains. “That changes the product.”

As audience’s attention spans have shortened, Hayes says time limits for stories have followed suit, only allowing for reporters to address the “what” of stories.  However, Hayes says a good reporter takes time to look deeper into the “why.”

“In this generation, there’s a great pressure to be first and deal with the superficial issue, but what makes a very good reporter is one who looks for some perspective beyond the superficial,” Hayes says.

Although he has enjoyed his time as a reporter, Hayes looks forward to a relaxing summer, thankful for all the support he has gotten in Pittsburgh throughout the years.

“I’m proud of all the people who’ve told me this week that they’ve appreciated my work.  To them, I’m very grateful.”

Next week, Hayes will be presented with the President’s Award for lifetime achievement by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania.

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