A guest post from Jim Lokay

Friday marked Jim Lokay’s last KDKA broadcast for the time being as he heads to Boston to take on an anchor position at an ABC affiliate and to hopefully stink-eye Tom Brady every chance he gets. Here is Jim in an open post to Pittsburgh. When you get to the CSI: Miami part, please scream, “YEAHHHHHHH!” Thx.

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When we were getting new carpet, producer Matt Carlins (playing the David Caruso character) decided we should use the police tape to recreate a “CSI:Miami” poster that hangs on our walls. Producer Matt Regan agreed to play Victim #414.

“Beep.  Beep.  BEEP.  BEEP.  FORTHELOVEOFGODWAKEUP!”

To me, that’s the perfect alarm clock — one that starts softly, so as not to stop your heart for a few milliseconds, but grows insistent that you get the hell out of bed within a reasonable timeframe.

I know something about alarm clocks. For the last six years and two months, I relied on about a dozen different ones to rouse me out of my too-short slumber and get me to work on time. At last check, I had a basic clock with two alarms – a buzzer and the radio (set to country music to ensure a violent response on my end), an iPhone with five different alarms set (three within three minutes of each other), and an iPad app to gradually wake me with the sounds of ancient Chinese gongs. They all worked. In my time at KDKA, I think I only received the dreaded “um, are you coming to work or not?” phone call about four or five times.

The alarms triggered a frantic morning routine that consisted of a 90 second shower, a quick change, the first application of the fancy-schmancy hair product, the first mad dash out the door, the realization I left my wallet on my desk, the second mad dash out the door, the race to clear the Parkway East and Squirrel Hill Tunnel, the in-car shave, and the daily round of “Parking Spot Roulette.”

I had it down to a science:  as long as I left East McKeesport by 4:00 a.m., I could get into One Gateway Center and ready to roll by my first traffic report around 4:40 a.m.

So, just like clockwork, the symphony of alarms kicked into high gear around 3:15 a.m. this morning.  There was only one problem:

I don’t work at KDKA anymore.

The decision to leave the place I spent the majority of my ten year media career was not an easy one. Of course, it also meant leaving my hometown — a place where I have friends, family, and other interests keeping me close. It was a long process that began in late August, when I was unexpectedly offered the opportunity to audition for an anchor job at the ABC station in Boston.

I spent most of the summer filling in as the morning anchor at KDKA after my friend and colleague Rick Dayton had knee surgery, but I was fully prepared to move back into the traffic role. Something in my heart told me that I had to pursue this opportunity, though. I had been to Boston several times over the last few years to visit friends, and loved it so much that I immediately added it to the short “places I’d move” list.

Two round-trip flights to Boston later, I had the job. It took a lot of soul-searching and a lot of self-evaluation to figure out if I wanted to take it, though. Colleagues were encouraging, friends were skeptical, but my family was supportive.  So, I decided to do it.

A few days after signing the papers, word got to the Post-Gazette that I was leaving KDKA. For some strange reason, the fact that the traffic guy from KDKA was moving away ended up as “BREAKING NEWS!”  The immediate outpouring of calls, tweets, texts, and “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME YOU WERE MOVING” messages was truly overwhelming. I had to hurry up and do some damage control, and fortunately, I think everyone understood that I was caught a bit off-guard.

What touched me, though, were the notes from some of the people I had the great pleasure to work with in various charitable pursuits over my time at KDKA: the American Liver Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the wonderful people from the American Cancer Society (especially the ones from Moon and Cranberry). Even the staff from Praise Christian Academy in North Versailles, a small school that invited me back every year for Read Across America Day, sent me a note to tell me how much they’ll miss me. I wasn’t able to get back to every single one, but trust me, I take them all to heart.

Of course, I will miss all of that. I will miss the Pirate games. I will miss Light Up Night.  I will miss the pre-game parties outside of Mario’s big screen. I will miss my ragtag bunch of friends from softball and flag football. I will miss the things that make our hometown so special. But I promise to make it back here as much as humanly possible, and I hope that you will all still embrace me as you have for so many years.

For now, I thank you all (and I thank you, Ginny, for being a friend over the past few years — even before you let me unmask you!). Please keep in touch. I’m keeping up on Twitter at @jimlokay and on Facebook.

After all, as I mentioned on my last day at KDKA, I think of a plaque that my parents gave me when I moved to Syracuse, NY to take my first job in TV about eight years ago.

“Wherever I may roam, Pittsburgh will always be my home.”

My family: my sister Andrea, my mom Angie, my Aunt Gracie, my Uncle Jim, me, my late grandfather (and my inspiration) Sam Semetsis, and my dad – the original Jim Lokay





17 Comments

  1. Rachel
    October 17, 2011 8:40 pm

    You will be missed! Good luck in Boston



  2. Cory Seymour
    October 17, 2011 8:49 pm

    I had 4 years of Communications classes and shared a graduating class in ’02 at California University of PA with Jim. I remember him from the very first day because he had a very “loud” sweater vest on, and was chomping on a turkey hoagie while describing a movie to the third row, as we sat in Television I class. I thought to myself, “Where the hell is this kid going?”
    I have always been happy that a classmate of mine has gone quite far. We had a very involved and lovable teacher named Mr. Carter, and I’m sure he is proud to see Lokay have such great success. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments Jim.

    Go Vulcans,

    Cory Seymour
    Backpage Press



  3. TwinMamaTeb
    October 17, 2011 9:19 pm

    Yes, the Liver Foundation will certainly miss you. We first met when my late father and his wackadoo girlfriend thought you were the cats meow. And yet you still thought enough of me to be my friend ;-) Good luck buddy, I am sure you will be great. Even though we knew this was coming, I’ll miss telling my kids while pointing at the TV “Hey, you know that guy!”



  4. Stephen
    October 17, 2011 9:19 pm

    Jim, I lived across the hall from you at CalU and played the role of the World’s Worst RA. You were a class act then, as you are now. You will be missed. I wish you the best.



  5. spoon
    October 17, 2011 10:20 pm

    I cant wait to crash on your couch in Bawston.

    Good luck capt’n!



  6. Nina
    October 17, 2011 11:30 pm

    James, what can I say? I’ve been your hairdresser for around what, 8 or so years now….but I’ve been your friend much linger than that. You have the Xmas dance picture of my Amish curly sideburns to prove that. :) I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss seeing u every 2 weeks for trims….always knowing I could still get my lunch in cause u would be at least 10 min late :) it’s not gonna be the same :( and I’ll always keep ur postcards up on my mirror no matter where u go! What are allll the old lady customers gonna do when they find out the “weather guy” is leaving?!?!? Lol. Maybe I’ll come up to
    visit sometime and we can go to cheers. I’ll bring my clippers ;) I’ll see u this week for ur last appt :( I’m going to miss u guy! <3 (we'll always have Paul McCartney). Oh and p.s. If u need a date to ur first Xmas party again, don't hesitate :)



  7. Dan (Not Onorato)
    October 18, 2011 8:40 am

    Good luck Jim…youll definitely be missed!

    TEAM LOKAY will always be here for you!



  8. red pen mama
    October 18, 2011 8:54 am

    This was sweet. I never got to know Jim well, but I was on the peripherary of some Pgh social media events he attended. He, of course, was always the center of attention. This is a great post, a credit to our fair city and what it means to so many people. Boston is pretty awesome, but the traffic is a nightmare!



  9. Sis
    October 18, 2011 9:12 am

    Congratulations to Jim and what a lovely post. Your presence will be missed on the Pittsburgh scene. Let us know when you’re back in town and good luck to you in Bean Town!



  10. facie
    October 18, 2011 9:21 am

    Jim: I had ever given much thought to traffic people, no matter what the station (you know, because there is always going to be traffic on the parkways during rush hour). But it was different with you. I wish you the best. And try not to show Tom Brady too much love, okay?



  11. One from Cranberry RFL
    October 18, 2011 10:07 am

    Jim,
    Your support of the American Cancer Society events in Cranberry Township (Bark For Life,the Relay For Life and the new WhifflepaloozAM) has always been appreciated. It won’t be the same with only 2 of the Bark Boys. So, I guess that means a visit back for those events will be on the schedule! We know you won’t be a total stranger.

    Good luck and have fun on your new adventure. We know we will always be home to you, here in the Burgh. Boston better realize how lucky they are to have you for this season of life!



  12. bucdaddy
    October 18, 2011 10:33 am

    Classy exit. Always leave ’em wanting more.



  13. Jenn
    October 18, 2011 11:50 am

    This makes me “heart” Jim Lokay even more….you will be missed!



  14. Sonni
    October 18, 2011 3:41 pm

    Hmmm… I remember a couple of those “Are you coming to work?” calls. I think I made a few myself to you. :)

    So happy and proud of you, Jim! You are fantastic, and Pittsburgh’s (temporary?) loss is Boston’s gain. Excited to follow your success, and best wishes. Talk to you soon!



  15. A Different Amy
    October 18, 2011 7:21 pm

    Best of luck with your new position in Boston, Jim. You will be missed here in the ‘Burgh.

    Here is hoping you get to sleep in a little longer this time. :)



  16. Mary kay
    October 18, 2011 7:48 pm

    You will be missed, but you will love Boston…just spent the past year there and if it weren’t for family and friends In the Burgh I would still be there.



  17. JGill
    October 24, 2011 7:20 am

    Jim I have watched you every morning and always felt you should be an anchor–HERE! Please come back as soon as you get the chance! All the best to you.