From Buckeye to Bedford - He's Cleveland's Own
We all know the face and the name - Tim Taylor. Did you know he was born and raised as Tim Kropf? As Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story.
Tim is one of our own - a "Cleveland kid", born and raised in the Buckeye area before moving to Bedford in 1951 when Bedford was still considered the country. "Very much like Mayberry back then."
Tim Taylor in 1948
All that's missing is Ralphie's Red Ryder
200 shot carbine action BB gun
As a young child he was fascinated by politics and read everything he could about Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson and the other big names of his time.
As a youngster, Tim missed a lot of school because of a severe case of bronchial asthma and allergies. Sometimes he would be off for a week or two at a time.
"But" he says, "I was blessed with parents who shared their love of both reading and writing and surrounded me with books and...ground breaking television...though my mother didn't know it at the time. Not many kids back in the fifties remember staying home sick and watching the McCarthy hearings or the Presidential conventions or reading every Cleveland Press story about the Sam Sheppard case."
Tim Taylor with his sole sibling, brother Jeff, in 1953
He learned early on about the power of the press. Young Tim created what was known as The 126th Street Weekly; a community newspaper he published on his own. It had all the important news of the neighborhood - who got married, who died, pregnancies, birthdays - everything that had an impact on his community.
His parents made him stop this promising endeavor when he reported on a neighbor's pregnancy and that is how her husband found out.
Shortly after that, in 1951, Tim and his family moved to Bedford, a city he still loves to this day.
Tim Taylor in Glendale School's 6th grade in 1955
Captain of the Safety Patrol (front row, right)
Both of Tim's grandparents were Hungarian immigrants, but his mother and her brother were adopted by a family of 100% Irish - and that is what she "became." Tim claims that is the root of his love of Guinness.
His maternal grandmother raised Tim during the war. He remembers her taking in sewing to help with the finances. He also remembers his Uncle George. George was his mother's brother, who as a 19 years old Marine was killed at Iwo Jima.
Instead of giving in to grief, his grandmother made it her job to teach Tim about life, responsibility, hard work and the city he was living in. His father, meanwhile, was fighting the Japanese in New Guinea and Okinawa and his mother worked full time.
Tim Taylor in Junior High in 1958
His grandmother took him to all the sites in Cleveland on a CTS bus. She never learned to read or write English, but she knew what was important and wanted Tim to see it all. Together they saw Higbees beautiful Christmas windows, and the Art Museum. They would make a trip to the Sterling Linder store to see the giant Christmas Tree. They visited the old arena and the Hanna Theater and everything on Euclid Avenue. "We never stopped exploring the city."
"I was born and raised here. A kid from Buckeye Road. Feagler talked about walking down Euclid Avenue and smelling the peanuts and that's what I remember. I'm a Cleveland guy. Where else can you live in this country and get the kind of amenities that we have?"
It was after his father returned from the war that they moved into his paternal grandparents' duplex on 126th Street. "The smell of chicken paprikash wafting through the screen windows in a summer night and Lucy's Hungarian Bakery at the corner."
The familiar face of Cleveland's Own
His grandparents brought over a relative who was a Hungarian Freedom Fighter and housed and fed him for a long time. The man went on to be a tradesmen, (carpenter) and now owns his own construction company. Tim describes this as a "typical rags to riches story" that could only happen in America."
He remembers the work ethic that was instilled in him as a child - one he saw all around him. "All the people I knew from back then had this work ethic that I was instilled with. We grew up with hard work. Simple rules; - never screw anybody; do your best; when you give your word - stand by it. That's how we were all raised."
He says his grandmother taught him from the time he could talk that it was important to speak nicely to people and treat people fairly. "She taught me about the old axiom on how you treat people when no one else is looking. I hate when I see people lording over waitresses or valets or coat check people."
Tim graduated from Bedford High School and went to Kent State. While going to Kent he was hoping to work part time at a radio station. Instead, he was offered two full time jobs and in 1962, he began his broadcasting career.
The station had a hard time pronouncing his ethnic name and Tim "Taylor" was born. He then went to work, simultaneously for two FM stations; 107 FM in Newbury in the mornings and 92.3 FM in Cleveland Heights at night.
His really big break came in 1964 when the news director of WCUE in Akron offered him a job. The news director was Joel Rose a man Tim says, "Helped me tremendously. I owe Joel a lot."
Joel Rose did Tim another huge favor when he recommended him for a news job at WHK, then known as Color Channel 14, in Cleveland. He was working with the big names like Phil McLean and Ronnie Barrett. He stayed there for about 7 years. Tim began his TV career with WEWS. He was an "Action Reporter" as well as a weekend news anchor.
It was Virgil Dominic who recognized his amazing talent and hired him at what was then the CBS affiliate, WJW channel 8 in 1977. In 1994, WJW became a Fox affiliate.
Dale Solly, Dick Goddard, Virgil Dominic, Tim Taylor and Jim Mueller after winning another award
Tim has been part of some amazing news crews. In 1979, the team included Dick Goddard on weather, Tim Taylor and Judd Hambrick on news and Jim Mueller on sports.
The 1979 Team - Dick Goddard, Tim Taylor,
Judd Hambrick and Jim Mueller
Soon Tana Carli joined Tim as co-anchor.
When Tana left for Florida in 1983 Denise D'Ascenzo came on board. Denise was followed by Robin Swoboda and then Denise Dufala. Of course, at the time of his retirement Tim was co-anchor with Wilma Smith.
Tana Carli and Tim Taylor
Just prior to his retirement the station held a reunion of what can only be described as an All-Star news team. Included were Taylor and his former co-anchor Robin Swoboda, along with sportscaster Casey Coleman and of course, Dick Goddard.
1983 Newscenter 8 News Team - Dick Goddard, John Telich and Casey Coleman flank Tim Taylor and Tana Carli
It is hard for him to pin down individual stories as being favorites or more special than the rest, only because he loved working on each of them. But of course, some stand out. "It's funny," says Taylor "but when I look back at that first decade of my career I am amazed when I think of what this kid was covering."
One significant story he covered was the second Sam Sheppard trial. F. Lee Bailey was representing Sheppard and had filed a writ of habeas corpus to have Shepherd released from prison after having already served ten years. A write of habeas corpus basically is filed asking that the court make a determination as to whether or not the person in prison should be there. It is predicated on a judicial error at the trial that resulted in the prison sentence.
Bailey was also trying the Boston Strangler case in Boston. When Tim heard the news that Bailey had won his motion and Shepherd was being released he picked up the phone and called the courthouse in Boston where Bailey was trying his case. "Remember this was a different time - there were no satellite feeds. No such thing as cell phones."
When Tim told the bailiff who he was and why he was calling the bailiff put him right through to Bailey, who had not yet heard the news. He was the first to interview Bailey about the courts ruling.
WHK's Tim Taylor with Vice-President Hubert H Humphrey
He had a somewhat similar experience when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.was assassinated. He picked up the phone and called the Lorraine Motel where just moments before King had been shot while standing on his balcony. He was able to talk to the desk clerk who was present on the site when the shooting took place. Once again, this was done with the technology of the day - a telephone and reel to reel tape recorder.
He was there the night Carl Stokes was elected the first black mayor of a major U.S. city. He covered the Hough riots and the Glenville riots.
Tim Taylor drove the WHK news cars, a 1965 Mustang, to cover the Hough riots in summer 1966
When he was news director of WHK he was sent to cover Apollo 13. The space craft was launched on April 13, 1970 and two days later there was a devastating explosion that threatened the crew and the mission. In the end, Apollo 13 returned to earth with no one harmed and Taylor was there when President Nixon came to welcome the astronauts home.
Tim Taylor on Launch Pad 39A for the Apollo 13 lift-off on April 11, 1970
The very next month, May 1970, Tim covered the Kent State shootings.
Tim Taylor with with Producer Lynn Zale
at the 1984 GOP Convention
Tim has interviewed every president from Richard Nixon on. During the 1984 Republican convention Tim was able to report an exclusive ultimatum from Teamster leader Jackie Presser to President Ronald Reagan. Presser warned Reagan to remove his Secretary of Labor or the Teamsters would take back their endorsement. Tim had the exclusive story.
Tim Taylor in Yokahama Japan reporting on the impact of Japanese cars on US Manufacturing
Tim was recently inducted into the Press Club Hall of Fame. "I was really so honored because as you may know they don't put a lot of TV people in there." He's right - most of the Press Club honorees are there because of their writing and Tim was no exception. He was always a writer and a reporter and never had aspirations of being on television.
As he says, "It was never even on the radar. No master plan to anchor television news." He is especially honored to be included with the likes of Connie Schultz and Dick Feagler, both print journalists who he has admired and respected for years.
He notes that this honor is the highlight of his twenty five years - to have his writing acknowledged and respected by this particular group especially.
Dick Goddard, Robin Swoboda, Tim Taylor and Woolybears in 1990
Although his news stories covered the gamut of tragedy, human interest, politics, uplifting stories, deaths and crime, no one ever knew how Tim felt about a story. He is a strong believer in the role of a journalist to gather all of the facts and report them and then allow the readers, listeners or viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Without specifying which one, he notes that one station in particular does "in your face" newscasts. "Clearly there is a huge difference between stations. Today, many of the newscasters are semi-commentators by design."
He also is very much aware of the influence of both cable and the internet. "Both pose a tremendous challenge for local and network television. Appointment news is dying." In Taylor's view, appointment news (news at a scheduled hour of the day) is being replaced by twenty-four hour coverage on cable and immediate access via the internet.
Casey Coleman, Dick Goddard,
Denise D'Ascenzo and Tim Taylor
For him, reading the daily paper is part of a ritual. Every morning he has his coffee and reads the paper, especially the columnists he loves so much. But if he wants updates or for breaking news, he knows to go to cable or the internet. "I am a big cable watcher. I watch it all. I want to hear all points of view."
He says the old lines of Democrat and Republican have been altered so much that "Jack Kennedy would probably be considered a moderate Republican today. The old definitions don't apply any more."
As soon as he retired in December 2005, he got his real estate license. His wife of 24 years, Cathy, has been in real estate for over 20 years. Together they formed the Taylor Group.
Cathy and Tim Taylor
Not surprisingly, Tim, an avid golfer, met his wife, Cathy, on the golf course. They have a combined family of six adult children and five grand children. His family is the single most important thing in Tim's life.
Tim Taylor's grandchildren trimming the 2007 tree
From left to right Ava, Alyssa, Sarah and Alex helping his baby sister, Alivia
He has tried to pass on the work ethic he learned as a child to his children and grandchildren and proudly admits that he thinks he has been successful in that endeavor. "They all understood the need to be ethical. I would always tell them, Just show up on time - and you're ahead of game. Be reliable. Make yourself invaluable. Be the go-to person. Keep your word. Ethics. Responsibility. It's pretty simple formula when you think about it. Treat everyone with dignity and respect"
"I tried not to be preachy about it but I would tell them - what I want for you more than anything - not wealth or money - I genuinely want you to be happy with what you are doing. You will be successful on some level if you're happy."
Tim and Cathy Taylor with Tana Carli and her future husband, and then Fox8 General Manager, Joe Domino at a dinner celebrating their engagement. Tim and Tana were the first male/female anchor tandem in the city
"You owe everyone you are associated with to be pleasant and happy."
Although he knows the area and its politics intimately, Tim would never consider running for office, knowing he would be too frustrated. "I always believe every city or business of a city that is successful is vision of one person - a benevolent dictator. It is hard to carry out a vision when there are committees. Politics would be too frustrating for me.
I look at the big picture. Like Cleveland's lakefront which in all the years I've been here is still unchanged! What would Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Toronto be without the utilization of their lakefront. How is it possible that I started here in the 60's and we still haven't developed our lakefront? It's a lay up. It's there!"
Tim and Cathy Taylor (Dick Goddard, Dennis Kucinich and others in the background)
Tim is part of a group, in its very early stages, that is tying to bring back the old electric trolleys and connect them to the new projects in the Flats. "Trolleys in San Francisco and other communities that have them are not transportation, they are entertainment. Great value in attracting people. Also plays into developing the lake front. It's called Lakeshore Electric Railway and it's a very exciting concept." He stresses that this is very preliminary and not even close to a launch date.
Tim says he is amazed that even after more than two years people on the street come up to him and don't realize he's retired. "I always wanted viewers to know I respected them and their intelligence. That they knew I would never say or tell them something I did not believe to be 100% to be true.
Tim Taylor reflects on Apollo
I didn't trifle with the news, I treated the news with respect that I knew it was important to them and it was important to me. And yet I had a sense of humor. I took the news seriously but I never took myself seriously."
It was his sense of humor that got him through years of Robin Swoboda, Casey Coleman and Dick Goddard, all known for their behind the scenes antics. "We all took the news very seriously, but not ourselves. We all thought we were just so lucky to be doing what we were doing but never thought we were anything special."
Dick Goddard, Robin Swoboda,
Tim Taylor and Casey Coleman
Tim remembers Casey Coleman with great fondness. "I was there when he interviewed the first time. He sounded just like his dad. Quick wit. So Smart and funny all the time. So natural. I said we have to hire that man and of course, they did. What a great guy."
Another good friend and co-worker was Bob Cerminara who Tim refers to as "A truly great reporter. Bobby cultivated relationships. He understood how important that is. He adhered to the old rule - check re-check and re-check sources and stories.
Tim Taylor and Bob Cerminara
He used his contacts to great extent and they knew they could trust him. I also think that led to my success - people knew they could trust me, both viewers and sources."
Tim has won many awards including many Emmys. Ironically, one Emmy was for his report on the 25th Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings. He was inducted into the Press Club Hall of Fame in the same Class (2007) as the Plain Dealer's Doug Clifton, Lute Harmon Sr. of Cleveland Magazine and Inside Business and Richard Osborne of Ohio Magazine.
He has also earned the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters' Award for Excellence and the President's Living Legacy Award from the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
At his ceremony when Tim was inducted into the Press Club Hall of Fame, he told the story of his five year old granddaughter. "Upon my retirement nearly two years ago, my granddaughter, Ava, showed her kindergarten teacher a picture of me from the newspaper and said, "you know my papa, he used to be on television - he used to be Tim Taylor".
Tim Taylor and grandkids
Tim adds this reflection to the story, "Yes, I used to be Tim Taylor, but I'll always be Tim Kropf of East 126th street, off Buckeye and 3009 Becket Road. And I'll always be proud to be one of Cleveland's own."
Tim and Cathy Taylor - Christmas 2007
Tim truly is one of Cleveland's own. He is everything we take pride in, as Clevelanders. He is honest, trustworthy, caring and committed. He knows about and proudly claims his ethnic heritage. He left television when he was on top, and went directly into another business. That is something that would make his grandmother proud.
And he loves his family - his wife, his children and his grandchildren. His family values and work ethic were instilled in him many years ago, and he passed that message on.
Tim Taylor in his home office December 2007
Tim Taylor is the guy visitors to our city are referring to when they say, "Clevelanders are nice people. Clevelanders are the backbone of our great country."
Profiled by Debbie Hanson (12/07)
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