Pete Noyes - 1930-2021
You will find the story of Pete Noyes on the front page of this website... along with links to photos and videos of Pete. He died on February 1st age 90.
Below are some of the many tributes to Pete's life and legacy.
The Los Angeles Times published the City News Service
obit on Pete on February 5. Here is the link:
Here the link to a Conan Nolan report on Pete's life and times that aired on the KNBC 11 p.m. news on February 2nd:
Pete Noyes was both a legend and a dinosaur. Let’s be clear, there is little, if any, room for newsmen like Pete in today’s TV journalism environment. Pete would be the horror of the modern-day, meddlesome corporate human resources manager, who would rather have reporters passive and obedient, sedated and content, than hot on the trail of a good story, full of grit and indignation, breathing fire. Unfortunately, that HR mentality has too often seeped into our newsrooms.
Pete breathed fire alright. As I wrote in a 2007 tribute to Pete upon his retirement from KTTV, Pete was a character out of “Front-Page.”
Even in his 70’s, Pete would enter the newsroom, his sports coat akilter as if some City Hall security guard had just 86’d him from a bullshit news conference, lean on the railing by my desk, and loudly state: “Goddamnit, John, this place is a ship of fools!!” This might be Pete’s opening salvo in a righteous rant, for example, about his inability to round up a TV crew to chase down a tip Pete got from one of his many, antique LAPD tipsters. Pete’s law enforcement Rolodex of sources was as long as Whitey Bulger’s rap-sheet.
Pete was a raconteur. He had a rich, ribald portfolio of stories from fifty years as a newshound. Several involved anchorman Jerry Dunphy. There was the time Dunphy was squiring a cute intern around the newsroom and, acting the big-shot, said something condescending to Pete, like Pete was his subordinate. Pete got mad, one thing led to another, and the next thing you know Pete took a swing at Dunphy – and missed. Dunphy, then a spoiled newsroom icon, complained to higher ups. Within hours, Pete was hauled before a vice-president of this or that. The bigwig said: “Pete, the next time you take a swing at that son-of-a-bitch Dunphy, I want you to hit him. Good and hard.”
Dunphy also was on-air when he got a breaking news item that several dozen civil rights protestors had been arrested, somewhere in the South. Dunphy said: “This just in: 60 (racial slur) protestors have just been arrested in….” Pete was so crazed, he left the building, saying: “I’m not going to spend one minute of my time taking angry calls and defending that dumb son-of-a-bitch. Let Dunphy take them.”
Chris Blatchford recently recalled the day he and Pete, both working at KTTV, were covering the LA Superior Court arraignment of a doctor accused of ripping off the Medicare system. As usual the arraignment court was as crowded as Grand Central Station, and the accused doctor was accompanied by large-than-life bodyguard. When the doctor realized Pete and Chris were there (and the only newspeople present) to cover his case, he had his bodyguard approach the pair, gruffly telling them to leave the courtroom. Pete stared down the behemoth and told him to get lost. This giant thug several times yet again tried to bully Pete and Chris to leave. “Finally Pete’s patience was over, and he just stood up and yelled ‘Your honor, this man is harassing us!!’” The surprised judge recognized Pete (an habitue of arraignment hearings) and, sizing up the situation, promptly ordered the bailiff to eject the doctor’s thuggish protégé from the court. “Pete was so plucky and tenacious,” Chris recalled with a laugh. “He was completely uninhibited about violating all courtroom decorum and demanding, at the top of his lungs, that his rights as a reporter be respected. It was a classic Pete moment.”
Pete was a newsman who loved to break stories. He was not content to get his stories from news conferences and press releases. Pete visited the Manson family’s Spahn ranch before any other news operation even knew of its existence; and he discovered bloody clothes evidence at the ranch that the cops had missed. Pete, always a news director or producer, never on camera, linked the LaBianca murders to the Sharon Tate slaughterhouse. With reporter Dick Carlson, he won a Peabody award for exposing the scam involving the Dale car, an invention (in more ways than one) of Liz Carmichael, a con-woman. The three-wheeled Dale car had a purported ability to get 70 miles to the gallon, made big headlines during the 70’s gas crisis as an inexpensive vehicle that would revolutionize the auto industry and attracted a slew of investors. But Pete and Carlson discovered the car was just a figment of Carmichael’s felonious imagination and that Carmichael herself had had a sex change operation in part to disguise her past as a fugitive con-man. To top it off, Carmichael tried to hire a hit man to kill her detractors, including Pete and a deputy district attorney. “Carmichael wasn’t any better hiring a hit man than she was at building a real car,” Pete would laugh after telling the story.
In his last months, Pete got a contract with the producer of the four-part HBO series “The Lady and the Car” for his assistance in helping HBO tell the Carmichael story. The series aired on Jan. 31. Former KTTV news director Jose Rios, former KTTV producer Bob Tarlau and I visited Pete at his home to bid him farewell on Friday, Jan. 29; he was on oxygen and tended by a hospice nurse. He was extremely weak and unable to talk. Pete died two days later, probably never seeing the TV series that owed so much to his reporting.
At KTTV I had worked with Pete on several stories, including a handful about a real estate con-artist who preyed on Latino families in the San Fernando Valley. Jim Rojas was his name. Our enterprise stories put Rojas behind bars for more than a half-dozen years (and won us an honorable mention for investigative reporting from the Sidney Hillman Foundation). Pete was present when we barged in on Rojas at his office and peppered him with embarrassing questions. Afterwards, Pete was glowing. This septuagenarian was as happy as a kid in an ice cream store because we had caught a crook off-guard and got videotape of him looking like a lying stumble-bum. “Boy, that was good stuff,” Pete said. “You did great, John.” I’ll never forget it: a compliment from Pete Noyes, one of the most fearless, tenacious, revered and colorful newsmen from a TV news age now mostly a memory. It was better than any Emmy.
God bless you Pete. Undoubtedly there are plenty of crooks, sleazy politicians, con-artists, etc. who have slipped into Heaven undeservedly, so Pete, you’ve got your work cut out for you now: finding these reprobates, exposing them and getting them reassigned to their proper place in the afterlife. Go get ‘em, Pete!! We know you’ll be doing God’s work and having a helluva a lot of fun doing it!!
Photo of Pete's trophy case - by John Schwada
Here is the remembrance of Pete that I wrote on Facebook the day after he passed:
This morning I opened the email that I knew would come, but that I never wanted to receive. Journalism giant, Pete Noyes, passed away last night at age 90. Much will be said about Pete's impact on our industry by the journalists who benefited greatly from his guidance. I had the pleasure of working with Pete as my boss at KNBC, as my writing teacher at a USC extension class and later as my investigative producer at KCOP. I remember the day that Pete and I were planning to drive my car to a shoot. As I opened the passenger door for him, he barked (in typical Pete fashion), "Why the hell are you opening the door for me?" I simply said, "We open doors for our legends." It worked. Pete went silent and quietly got in the car. I hope it was because he knew my sincerity. I will miss you, Pete. You're a person one is blessed to know once in a lifetime.
Pete Noyes was producing The Big News when I became the Sacramento Bureau Chief for KNXT (now KCBS) in 1969, and he immediately assumed the role of my distant, but ever-present, guide and counselor. He called me "Kid." We worked together more closely after I came to LA in 1972 and again for several
years at KNBC in the late '70s and early '80's, when we formed "Unit 4." Thanks to Pete, we conducted multiple investigations into subjects nobody else would touch, including the origins and operations of nuclear power, and there were always the dark mysteries of the LAPD. Pete had the courage and
determination to insist that we go where I sometimes feared to tread--or just resisted because too much work was required. Then, now, and always, Pete has and will represent for me the highest standards of integrity and purpose in broadcast journalism—even though I know he’d regard that sentence as utter
bullshit. Personally, after grappling with him so often for so long, I came to love Pete for his kindness and generosity as much as I admired him for being such a pro. In addition to me, of course, Pete befriended, trained and influenced a generation or two of reporters, producers and others who are mourning him now. I'm proud to count myself among them.
I first met Pete in the spring of 1978. It didn't take me long to figure out that his news writing class at USC wasn't gonna be a cakewalk. Around mid-semester I proudly turned in a piece of copy that I could've sworn was darn near perfect. It came back marked with a few corrections and a B+. I walked home that night feeling like I had just climbed Mt. Everest. Little did I know at the time the profound impact Pete would have on my career.
I was blessed to learn from other mentors like Saltzman, Olney, Norte and Culver just to name a few. But it was Pete who ignited that initial spark in me and for that I will always be grateful. Pete had a way of challenging me...even calling me a "lighweight" at times. For some odd reason, even his insults and critiques were inspirational.
To this day I remember sitting in class and jotting down the gospel of good writing according to Pete. Avoid cliches. Be careful with adjectives. The harder the story, the harder the lead. One thought to a sentence. Shorter is better. Subject, verb, object. Hard news wins. News writing tips that remain timeless.
My sympathies go out to Jack and the rest of the Noyes family. We have all lost a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Pete... you didn't just make me better. You made all of us better. RIP.
I never had the good fortune of working with Pete Noyes, the legendary managing editor at many Los Angeles TV stations over the years, who died on February 1st at age 90. Nevertheless, he gave my career in broadcast news a rapid boost when I was starting out and he was a reporter working the morning desk at City News Service.
I got my start in 1955 anchoring a daily syndicated radio show, “News Today,” on six U.S. radio stations. It was produced by an educational film company based at USC, where I was a student at the time. The station that picked it up in Los Angeles was KPOL, a fledgling operation that had just switched formats from all-polka (thus, POL) to all-“beautiful music.” I contributed a feature to the program on Tuesdays and Thursdays and introduced a host of rotating contributors on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They included Eleanor Roosevelt, H.V. Kaltenborn, Randolph Churchill, Carlos Romulo, Newsweek columnist Ernest K. Lindley, and Stalin biographer Isaac Deutscher.
Hoping to publicize the program, I would call City News Service whenever I developed a newsworthy feature, and invariably the guy who picked up the phone answered, “City News, Noyes.” I’d summarize the story, and if he expressed interest, I’d provide details. His reports would credit “News Today,” never me, but I didn’t mind. Likewise when the syndicators failed to sell the program to additional stations and I was hired as the sole newscaster on KPOL, I continued making calls to Pete, and he began crediting the station. Even without the name credit, his stories helped get me a lot of recognition and eventually jobs on television. More than just converting my broadcast reports into print, he would often congratulate me for major “beats” and comment “that’s great,” “fantastic,” “amazing” etc. while he typed up his notes. I figured that he was an old veteran newsman, and those remarks boosted my confidence no end. In fact, however, he was only three years older than I.
Eventually, our careers diverged, and I lost contact with Pete until about eight years ago, when my book, “Deadly Times: The 1910 Bombing of the Los Angeles Times and America’s Forgotten Decade of Terror,” was published. The publishers had sent out numerous pre-publication review copies, one of which went to Pete. He wrote a wonderful commentary that is now featured at the top of Amazon’s list of reviews of the book. He called it a “historical work that will leave its footprints on the sands of time.” (He was again boosting my career nearly 60 years later.) I sent him an email “thank you,” and he replied, noting that he lived in Westlake Village, where I also lived. We soon got together at a nearby lakeside restaurant, The Landing, meeting in person for the first time, and I finally had the opportunity to thank him for all of his CNS news stories that brought me notice and legitimacy during my early years in the broadcast news business.
He told me about the pedestrian accident that had left him permanently injured, and I recommended a physician whom I had been seeing about a bum left knee. He later sent me an email praising the doc for giving him the first relief from his injuries since the accident occurred.
We got together for lunch at The Landing regularly afterwards, mostly to mutually bemoan the current state of television news. At one of those lunches, I commented that the major difference between TV news in the old days and today is that back then the emphasis was on landing a terrific story, while nowadays the emphasis is on landing a terrific video. It was ironic, then, when a few days later, Pete posted a message on Facebook praising a report he had seen by a local TV newsman about an alleged hit-and-run accident (the reporter didn’t use the word “alleged”) in Palos Verdes in which a prominent member of a local bicycle club had been killed. The report owed its raison d'être to footage from a security camera that had captured the bicyclist being followed by a white van shortly before the accident occurred. I watched the report online and then checked the local Palos Verdes newspaper, where I saw a far more complete and compelling coverage of the incident. I responded to Pete’s post on Facebook, spelling out my disagreement with his admiration for the report and remarking that it would not have existed without the video. To my astonishment, he ripped into me, accusing me of slandering him and then going on to make numerous untrue accusations about my motivations for criticizing him — finally concluding: “God save me from failed news anchors.” (One of these days I intend to write an autobiography and title it “Memoirs of a Failed TV Anchorman.”)
Pete’s many fans and former colleagues joined in. I sent him a private email message expressing my surprise at his over-the-top response and the verbal beating that his friends were meting out to me, saying “I feel like a Chicano at a Trump rally.” I suggested that his response might have been influenced by the pills he was taking to ease the pain from his injuries. He did not respond, and I didn’t hear from him again until several years later, when we met by chance. (Before the pandemic, I was earning a few extra bucks each month driving for Uber, and Pete turned out to be a passenger one day.) He greeted me warmly and we resumed our friendship. I volunteered to take him and his wife Grace to their medical appointments and pick up prescriptions for them at a local pharmacy. (I wanted to tell him at some point that police in Palos Verdes had found no evidence that the bicyclist had been hit by a vehicle but decided to let the matter rest. It never came up again.)
Last February, he sent me an email saying, “Reading ‘Deadly Times’ for the second time. It’s a fantastic work of literary art.” A few months later, I purchased a new Tesla and sent Pete an email offering to take him for a ride in this computer on wheels. He responded saying that he had been feeling under the weather.
After I heard about Pete’s death I asked News Geezers founder Bob Tarlau in an email whether Grace was still living at their home and was relieved when he told me that she was. This is certainly no time for people to be moved into nursing homes. Thirty-nine percent of all Covid 19 deaths have occurred in them.
I had hoped to thank Pete publicly for his encouragement and support at the long-pending Lew Irwin Geezers night. I can now add my inability to do so to my list of upsetting disappointments that Covid 19 has brought about.
Surely, the saddest aspect of the pandemic is the enforced separation of families from families and friends from friends — in some cases, permanently.
I think Pete would have enjoyed a ride in my Tesla.
Remembering The Captain - Pete Noyes
I first met Pete on October 22nd, 1963 when I joined The Big News team.
Fresh from CBS Television City I walked into that smoke-filled newsroom
at Sunset and Gower. I was in awe of the anchor, Jerry Dunphy, and reporters
Maury Green, Paul Udell, John Hart, Saul Halpert, Grant Holcomb, all of whom
I was familiar with from watching the nightly number one news broadcast in
Southern California, The Big News. I wasn't however prepared to encounter
the all male news production team led by Executive Producer Pete Noyes.
While it was Roy Heatly who held the title of News Director it was Pete who
ran the broadcast. He lived The Big News. He was the reason we were
number one. I wasn't in the newsroom long before witnessing Pete,shirt tail out, standing on his desk top yelling "I'm the Captain of this Ship. When I say write it this way you damned well better write it this way." I called him the Captain from then on. One month later on November 22nd 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Pete led our coverage. John Hart was dispatched to Dallas. Cots were brought in. No one went home, We worked through the long sad days ahead. On occasion pandemonium would arise: someone had lost a paycheck. Most often Pete. Waste baskets were overturned as a search of the newsroom took place. When Assistant News Director Pat O'Reilly passed away Pete led what amounted to an Irish wake at Amagi's across Sunset in Gower Gulch. Pete was one of the most loyal people you'll ever know. Reporters knew he had their back and when the front office attempted to interfere Pete stood up for them, In later years Pete led our Investigative Unit. He had the instinct, the sources, respect from law enforcement, and political leaders. They knew Pete was right.
Pete encouraged me to write my memoir. I sent him a proof before publication and wanted his approval of the chapter about him. He said he liked it. I asked Pete if he would write an endorsement for me. No he didn't. Instead he wrote the foreword to Lifetime of News. The honor of my life. Rest in Peace Captain. My condolences to Grace, Jack, and Pete's family and friends.
When the horrid '87 NBC strike ended, one of the punishments handed out to several union officers/shop stewards was to reassign them from their premium pay jobs into lesser paying positions. My punishment was to move from the Assgt Desk to the writers pool. The desk to which I was assigned had a line-of-sight look into Pete's office.
Susan Cantu was his secretary at the time sitting outside his office by a few feet. He would often shout a question to her that sounded odd but it was his brand of oral shorthand for "I need the phone number for....." I was within 20 feet of both of them. So, being of irreverent bent, I couldn't resist the temptation to insert my sense of humor.
Pete: (loudly): Susan!! What's sports? (oral shorthand for what's the phone number for network sports?). Before she could answer, I informed Pete in an equally loud voice, "oh, that's where a bunch of guys run up and down a field kicking a ball" He sat there and silently glared at me.
Pete: (loudly): Susan! What's travel (by now you get the idea).
Me: "uh, that's where you get on a plane and fly to another city."
Again, an annoyed glare fixed on me for half a minute.
Any more on that would be padding my part. But I need to share another moment: we were having the afternoon Planning Meeting in Pete's office which. at that time, faced the open reporters bullpen area. I can't remember the other two who were present, but they enjoyed this moment as much as I did. Jim Giggans' little son - maybe about six or seven at the time - came into the meeting. Pete asked what he wanted. Young Gigggans, who could barely see over the top of Pete's desk, said "my computer doesn't work and (pointing at Doug Kriegel) said "that man said I should come in here and tell you to fix it." None of us could control our laughter, especially Kriegel, as Pete put his face in his hands and then down on his desk for a minute. Then he looked up and said, "Mr. Giggans, I cannot fix your computer and you need to go back out there and sit quietly. And, don't talk to that man anymore (meaning Kriegel).
A second post from Warren Cereghino:
Pete's connections to the world around us were myriad and interesting - just as he was. At KNBC we routinely assigned a photog to shoot some "Weather" video over which we'd lay the requisite graphics. One time I assigned Dave Seger to the Chester Place campus of Mt. St. Mary's University, a historic and photogenic location in West Adams. I knew Dave would get the most out of the assignment. However, Dave was informed that he needed a filming permit and was asked to leave. He shot something else that morning. Later, I tracked down the nun who ran the college's PR office. She fixed everything, assuring me that only production companies needed a permit and that we were always welcome. Then she asked, "do you work with Pete Noyes?" I answered in the affirmative.. She then said, "tell him hello for me," I politely inquired as to their connection, to which she replied "I was his Kindergarten teacher."
Joel Sanoff (from Facebook):
What an incredible impact he made upon his craft. I will have to read his books.
Thanks, Bob. I am I am in sorrow. I was the sole editor on “Murder One” on KNBC, in 1991.
Just Pete, me, the director Mike Yoffee, and Mike Hegedus, the host/reporter. We had occasional reporters, and camera crews, but the main group of four garnered unbelievable ratings and a local Emmy and Golden Mike.
He treated me as a valuable part of the team, and I could walk in to his office anytime.
When I was assigned to work on the show, we talked for a while, and he said, I’ve always wanted to work with you”. Somehow, I felt I was wanted on the team, and we had a fabulous relationship. Pierro’s Italian restaurant owes gratitude to Pete for our liquid lunches. Those were the good old days .
RIP, Pete. Cause some Good Trouble in the Pearly Gates.🙏
I feel so lucky to have worked with Pete in the Special Projects' unit at Fox 11 and before that at KCOP. I spent many years sitting one desk over from him -- picking his brain and having him help me with my scripts. He was more than a journalist. He was a wealth of knowledge about everything! News was simply in his DNA. It has to be to be an ICON.
Pete was passionate and aware, and once you earned his respect you were in for life. Some have commented that if Pete yelled at you it was like a right of passage. I proudly got yelled at by him and earned my TV News wings quickly. I vividly remember the day he praised my work and said I was a "Fine, young journalist."
A year ago I was invited to have brunch with Pete and several of my colleagues and mentors. Once again, we were seated next to each other. He was physically frail but mentally sharp as ever. We talked for a long time about the Black Dalia case. He recounted all the details like it happened yesterday. I was like a kid in a candy store listening to him.
I sure will miss his stories. He had so many. And I sure will miss the man that taught me so much about news.
We've lost broadcast news pioneer Pete Noyes, a giant of our industry who was one of my journalism mentors. I can remember how excited I was to land a spot in his broadcast newswriting class at USC -- it was like winning the lottery to get a spot without having to go on a waitlist! As I was starting out in the biz, he wrote me a letter of recommendation that I still cherish. On rare occasions in recent years, CNS owner Tom Quinn and I coaxed Pete and his wife Grace into going out to lunch, and those are great memories. Pete and Tom went way back -- Pete hired Tom at the tender age of 21 to work at a TV news station in Sacramento. Certainly Pete was one of the most famous journos ever to churn out copy at City News Service, where I still toil. RIP Pete, you were one of a kind.
In 1983 a youngster visiting a college buddy in LA wrangled an invite to visit the KNBC newsroom to try to make some connections and drop off the old 'resume tape'' for ( hopefully ) a critique . Imagine my shock a short time later, back home working in OKC, when out of the blue one weekday I got a call ... " Phil this is Pete Noyes in Los Angeles ..... we have something here you may be interested in... it's a temporary vacation relief job... just a few months.. no guarantees, no moving expenses... Now listen..... I want you to call me on Monday and I'll know more. ''.. and he just hung up. As you can imagine, i was pretty excited. I'd been looking to move on to a bigger market but this was not expected. So the days went by with nervous anticipation and on that following Monday I called up, got Pete on the phone... true story.. .'' Hi Mr. Noyes this is Phil Shuman calling from Oklahoma City......" before I could say more... and we can all hear the voice right now.. .he was yelling into the phone....'' I TOLD YOU I'D CALL YOU WHEN I KNEW SOMETHING WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME !!!!!!!!!!!! " This was my first introduction to Pete. I was thinking..well... I could've sworn he told me to call him but I sure wasn't going to bring that up. I mumbled a few more words, said OK great thanks look forward to hearing from you , and got off the phone as fast as I could. Well, things worked out, you might say, he offered me the job, of course I said yes, and for almost 40 years I was lucky enough to be in Pete's world, in awe of Pete, to learn from Pete, to laugh with Pete, to cover countless stories with Pete, to talk about news with Pete... to go to Brent's Deli with Pete, and to be his friend, like so so many ,too many in fact to name here because I'm afraid I'll overlook some.. but it 's Conan.. Patrick.. Vikki.. Kelly... John.. Saul.. Furnell.... Laurel.... Paul.... Beverly... Colleen... Fred...
Ellen.. Bill... Warren.... David.. Tim.. Gina... Anthony.. Jose... Dave... Chris.. Ken.. Bob... . that's just the beginning of the list.. what a legacy.... As others have written , he truly was one of a kind, as cliche as that sounds, because he did things his way and didn't care what you thought about it, and in today's politically correct world it would've been a challenge for him to thrive but in his day it worked.. He'd always say, of his various bosses over the years, '' If they can find somebody to do it better, hire them ..'' Well, they couldn't. He cared about the story, he cared about being fair, and he cared about the business and the people in it. . We all shed tears Monday morning because we knew this day was coming, but we're all better , and Southern California news viewers are better, for having Pete Noyes shake things up as he blazed across the horizon. A long life well lived. RIP Pete.
I remember how nervous I was doing my first live shot—something to do with air quality. I think I called it the brown stuff in the sky. When I got back to the news room I came looking for Pete’s stamp of approval. His reaction? “Next time wear hair spray.”
This kid from Palm Springs was learning the ropes.
We went on to break exclusive stories, to out politicians on corruption, to weave words together as only Pete knew how.
I will be forever grateful for the capital “J” still on my chest. It’s there as a reminder that he instilled truth and competition in me which I carry into every story even now, almost four decades later.
Getting your butt kicked by Pete Noyes is an unforgettable learning experience. That's what happened on December 1, 1969, my first day working in LA as a new hire at KNBC. That was the day members of the Manson Family got busted near Death Valley and Pete, who boasted the best law enforcement sources in town, had his KNXT crews all over the story, way ahead of all the other LA news organizations. That evening, Channel 2 had plenty of footage from the bust and everybody else had--zero, nada, bupkes.
I had been told to hang around the newsroom and observe on my first day at work and what I observed was not fun--a lot of yelling, screaming and anguish over how badly we were being scooped, courtesy of Mr. Noyes.
Pete and I later became friends and had a laugh or two about that day. He was an amazing part of the LA news scene and his legacy will not soon be equalled.
Joseph Benti (as posted to Facebook):
Fifty Seven years ago, Pete Noyes received one of his many journalistic awards for his work as co-producer (with the late Georges Fischer) and writer of a Channel Two (KNXT in those days) documentary, “Appalachia By The Sea.” As developers and politicians whetted their appetites for the rewards promised by the many developments around what we now know as the Marina complex, the documentary focused on the human cost and the stereotypical idea of Appalachia and all its impoverished ills right next door. Pete was the balance wheel between Georges and the “new guy” who had so much to learn and could not have had a better guide and mentor than those two. Digging, accuracy and heart were the major ingredients of our labors for which we won a Golden Mike. Looking back, what a teacher, what an original—Raymond Chandler would have loved Pete as I am sure his current batch of students do—trading his shirttail for an angel’s gown that somebody is surely telling him to "tuck in" and where he can find both Georges and Bill Stout at the celestial version of "The Naples."
For those of you who, over the years, have called on me to solve unsolvable mysteries or to locate people who were determined not to be found, you should pause and honor the man who taught me and inspired me.
Pete Noyes died this week.
I’m one of probably hundreds of journalists who learned from the very best.
He was a legend.
His endorsement of me meant more to me than all of the awards I’ve won as a journalist — as an investigative TV news producer, a radio reporter or newspaper reporter and editor.
When I first met him at KNBC-TV in 1978, he scared the shit out of me. We could hear him downstairs in the newsroom shouting at reporters, writers, assignment editors, researchers and even his bosses.
When they assigned him to head up our UNIT4 investigative team, however, I lost my fear and, instead, came to understand his “Lou Grant” explosions.
I watched him deal with the most hardened police detectives, deputy district attorneys, judges, FBI agents and even criminals.
He was amazing because he didn’t ask questions — instead, he’d start telling them about their own case.
“This is Pete Noyes at Channel Four,” he’d announce to them. “I think that killer you’re looking for is also is a member of an outlaw biker gang out of Bakersfield.”
He would keep suggesting details about the case until the detective would feel compelled to correct them.
“Not so fast, Noyes,” they’d reply. “The biker gang he’s involved with is out of San Diego! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
I still worried about how I would respond to him the first time he exlpoded in my direction. But when it finally happened to me diwn in the newsroom, I had already learned that the best response was to get in his face and tell him why he was wrong.
Pete had just returned from one of his long, liquid lunches when I handed him the building permits for skyscraper in progress that had collapsed. Three workers had died.
When I handed him the 200-page file — that cost more than a hundred dollars in copying fees — Pete exploded on me. He raised the package above his head and slammed it to the floor so hard that it shook the building.
“WHO THE HELL TOLD YOU TO BUY ALL OF THIS?!!!!!!”
All I could do was hold my breath get in his face.
“YOU DID, YOU SONOFABITCH!!!
“I did? Good job! Let me buy you a beer.”
If you cowered before Pete, he would forever refer to you as “A whippo!”
There was nothing worse than being a whippo.”
Everyone who worked with him loved him.
We’re all sharing our Pete Noyes stories.
Even the whippos.
Pete Noyes had a passion and commitment to news that was unparalleled. He had the same intensity, enthusiasm, and grit at the age of 80 that he had when he was 22. In a business that has a bad habit of regularly eating its own, Pete not only survived but thrived for 6 decades. There was never any mystery how Pete felt about a person or an issue. He'd let you know -- face to face -- often with a tongue as sharp as his Irish temper and as crisp as his Celtic wit. This man suffered no fools. And he loved it. His sometimes gruff exterior covered over a warm and caring heart. He did not wear his Catholic religion on his sleeve, but the moral code and integrity he lived by found its roots in his undying faith. It was a faith that honored the goodness of man and was angered by bad guys and sinister deeds. All this made him a local news icon. A man to be counted on, a man who would fearlessly walk away from a job rather than do something he felt was wrong or unprofessional. He didn't kiss anyone's ass, and he didn't freely hand out empty compliments. But he once gave me the greatest news compliment I ever received during 45 years on the beat. It was a gift I cherish -- embedded in my heart and mind -- from a man that I respect enormously. And I am proud to say he was my friend.
Please click on this YouTube link...
to view the video of Dave saluting Pete.
It was posted on Dave's Facebook page.
And here is a link to the tribute Pete paid to Dave... when Dave retired from KCBS/KCAL last year.
Tom Lange (LAPD Retired):
The passing of Pete has me recalling a time when we actually had credible "sources" who could be utilized and protected. It was also a time when there was for the most part a respect between cops and the media. Pete was certainly a big part of that era.
A very fine man has passed, leaving behind a solid legacy of fidelity and professionalism.
We all know Pete as a legend of L.A. broadcasting. My good fortune was having Pete as a friend dating back to the '80s. We competed for stories when that decade began. At the time, I was reporting for the Daily News and he was KNBC's managing editor. By the last years of the '80s, Pete initiated my crossover into television news and became my first boss as I helped produce original, occasionally-investigative stories at his direction for Channel 4. My work for Pete during those news-rich years largely enabled me to move on to network newsmagazine shows, including 60 Minutes, as an independent producer of many stories.
The retirement party for Pete that you and Barbara hosted was a fitting honor and quite a draw of former colleagues of his. By then, Pete's pace was slowing, but he never lost his thirst for breaking good stories.
RIP, good friend.
I am so deeply saddened by the passing of Pete Noyes. He was one of the first people I met when I started working at KCOP; hollering some colorful comments to various people over the news room's public address system, I asked myself, who is this guy?
Later, that day I happened onto him; pacing back and forth and smoking a cigarette out outside in the parking lot. Thinking he was just having a bad day, I gently offered my heartfelt advice for him not to get so upset at whatever it was he was yelling about. To my surprise he said, Ah...don't worry kid...I wasn't upset. That's just the way I talk when I need to light a fire under some of these people..." From that exact moment, I knew I had somehow landed is a spot (the news business) where I really belonged. Pete was the greatest and we became fast friends.
For several years there after we would always meet on his birthday (his and mine were in July) at Little Bit of Hoboken on Westwood. I would go all out with a Hostess Cupcake (two to the package) and one birthday candle...!
I read both of his books and every story vignette was exactly like he had told me over-and-over. ...What a great man; a feisty no bull-shit guy with a kind heart and a willingness to teach, coach and share all he knew about the news bizz with a new guy like me. Grateful and honored I was and will always be.
I will miss you, Pete. I will never forget you. You stand with an exclusive group of folks who made a difference in the world for your audience and your co-workers. To Grace and Jack and the rest of the family, my prayers are with you for the great husband and father that you lost. I will see Pete again on the Big-Big-Big News in the sky.
I’m deeply saddened to hear this. I owe so much to Pete. He taught me more about journalism than I had learned in all the years of going to school and working before I met Pete. I know many other people feel the same. My heart and prayers go out to Pete’s family and friends for such a loss.
Pete was clearly one of a kind. As we salute his life and accomplishments, we should be thankful Pete left us with worthy successors. In newsrooms and classrooms across America - there are reporters inspired by Pete. Reporters trained by Pete. Reporters who affirm the values, ethics and independence he championed from the very beginning of TV news.
Whenever we see a hard hitting investigation that pulls the cover off a secret. Whenever we see a reporter go the extra mile, check one more source, find one more document. Whenever a newsroom stands alone in defense of truth and independence — we’re seeing Pete’s legacy in action. Our industry and our nation are better because Pete was our guiding light.
He was fond of leading cheers in the newsroom; “Gimme a K” (for KNBC, or KABC or KNXT). Today, I say “Gimme a P” (for Pete). Thank you Mr. Noyes
This day, a day we all have all dreaded, has come. We are without our dear friend and colleague, Pete Noyes, who was the heart and soul of our newsroom. He molded and shaped it to be what it was for so many years, the best in the country. There were many who also made it so, but Pete was at the top of the list.
In the days and weeks ahead, I suspect will will be hearing people say over and over, "He was one of a kind" and "There was only one." Indeed, Pete was like no one else we have ever known or worked with. Our loss is profound.
Bob, I'm so very sorry to hear about Pete. What a firecracker, even in his later years! I can't imagine what he was like in his reporter days.
I interviewed him at his home a few years ago for the short documentary I made about Aggie Underwood. He gave me the best soundbite of the four people I interviewed: "Aggie Underwood became city editor because William Randolph Hearst wanted her there!"
I'm glad you, Jose and John paid him a visit and that he signaled your presence. What a strong spirit!
He made such an impact on so many people and will remembered forever.
I am heartbroken.
Was just thinking about him two days ago. More later. RIP Pete, my hero.
Jim Forbes (owner/publisher The Perris Progess)
We’d talk throughout Cooper as he was a very meaningful part. And we promised to grab a meal as I am next door in the unincorporated Santa Monicas. Time passed and then COVID and I was so afraid we’d not get the chance. You guys went over, so regret not doing the same.
An icon and a great friend. We were next door cubicle mates at Front Page and lunch partner with Peggy Holter, Tony Cook, Suzanne LaCock and so many others. And then he asked me to come back to KCBS to finish the investigation of Metrorail that I started years earlier. He, I and Leroy would laugh at how Leroy fed him and he’d feed Laurel Erickson and how they’d kick my ass re: the Nighstalker as I was only 2 months in town, without a source and no one at 2 had one either as they had fired Mitchell for me and the brass was all from Chicago.
Absolutely loved Pete and we’d laugh uncontrollably together. He was well past the typewriter throwing days, but not past outbursts. I believe he enjoyed how that would make me laugh and not cringe. It was easy, he didn’t direct them at me.
God rest his soul, he was one of a kind. I was just lamenting the old print days earlier today with one of my writers (former LAT, Press-Enterprise septuagenarian) who alerted me to the current SI piece on Pete Axthelm that brought me back to my NY Daily News copy boy days. Pete would have been very much at home there as well.
I could go on….can’t we all…everyone else with so much more
So sorry to read this news, Bob. We’ve lost another legendary Journalist and a wonderful man.
So sorry to hear this Pete was an inspiration to so many I loved his spirit toward the news he will be missed
when I saw the subject line, my heart sank.
like so many, loved Pete and feel the angst that family and friends, colleagues over the decades…are mourning.
a news legend, a news friend of getting the story… not settling for just doing the story.
a father, grandfather…mentor to those fortunate to have him cross their professional path.
before moving to AZ, I saw Pete and Grace out in Westlake Village, where we lived, and I left after that
chance meeting with a sense of emptiness and sadness…it was great to see both of them…but Pete had
lost some pep in his step…and I wondered to myself, if I would have the pleasure of ever seeing him again.
Prayers to Grace and Jack and entire family.
Peace for Pete.
Thanks for sharing your memories Bob. I’m glad you had a chance to see him one last time. Wish I could’ve. He was a very special man. I’ve known him since college. Always kind. He’ll be missed indeed.
So Sad. He was one of a kind and a hero in the News Biz.
I feel honored to have been able to work with such an icon of the news world.
He had an incredible career and was definitely the biggest bad ass of any newsroom.
He will be remembered for so many different reasons I can’t begin to make a list.
Anyone who knew him knows what I mean.
RIP and God bless him and his family
Loved that bulldog -- he made the Cooper case happen (with old evidence), which began my documentary career (Now on #4).
He's throwing typewriters in heaven.
There are only a handful of people one would call a lion of broadcast journalism and while most (Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley, Brokaw) were on air, Pete belongs in that crowd. In addition to mentoring so many young journalists over the decade at TV stations, for many years he passed along his knowledge to aspiring broadcasters at CSUN and USC where he often taught investigative journalism. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
One of my oldest friends and colleagues, Pete Noyes, a pioneer of television news in Los Angeles, has died. He was 90.
I first met Pete in 1964 when we both worked for CBS-Channel 2 news in Los Angeles. He was a tough, hard-bitten newspaper reporter who, like the rest of us, didn’t know what to make of this new concept: television news. He had come from City News Service and took no prisoners – I can still remember him shouting out my name when he was reading a piece of my copy and yelling, “What the hell is this?” He’d sit me down and show me what I should have done with the news story and I learned more from him than five years of undergraduate and graduate journalism school about how to tell a story in a minute and a half.
You always knew when Pete was working on deadline because his white shirt was always half out of his pants as he scrambled about the newsroom barking orders. He was every journalist I had ever seen in the movies and on television and the rumor that he was the model for Lou Grant in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was, at least for me, as true as it could be. And Pete said it was so.
Pete saved my job on more than one occasion. I was a hothead in those days. On a weekend, I was hungry and I was furious that the CBS executives had traded a favorite mom-and-pop café for vending machines. I had gotten a frozen hot dog out of one of those machines and then discovered that the new microwave didn’t work. So, I lit a fire in the machine to cook the hotdog. Sports Anchor Gil Stratton and Weatherman Bill Keene were sitting at one table and couldn’t believe I had done that, but they knew that when I was angry it was best to leave me alone. The next day Pete came up to me and said, “What the hell happened this weekend?” I told him. He said the station guards were saying I tried to burn down the building. Then he put his arm around me and said he would take care of it, but that I should take a couple of sick days. Apparently he gave an impassioned plea to the news director and the general manager because somehow when I returned, nothing more was said about the matter and I wasn’t fired. When I tried to thank him, he shooed me away. “That’s what we do in a newsroom.We stick up for one another. But don’t do something that stupid again.”
That was Pete. Always there for you. Always the best of friends.
From my vantage point at USC and the various freelance journalism jobs I did for decades, I saw Pete become one of the great TV investigative reporters of all time. He worked at several TV stations around town, most notably at NBC. He became a legend in this town and I don’t think there is anyone who worked in TV news who didn’t know him, or knew of him, and spoke his name with reverence.
Pete and I gave many eulogies in the past for news friends who had died, but none moved us more than Mike Daniels’ memorial. Mike worked with us at Channel 2 and was one of the nicest producers I ever met. Pete told me that day, “Well, one of the best is gone. We’ll probably be next.” Both Mike and Pete taught for me at USC – Pete taught broadcast newswriting for many years and Mike taught TV production ever longer. They, working with other professionals we recruited to teach, made USC Annenberg the great journalism school it is today.
Pete used to call me out of the blue to ask for a phone number or, later, an e-mail address of someone we both used to know. He wanted to keep in touch. And then there were the long phone calls where he lamented what TV news had become and what was I going to do about it: “You’re teaching the next generation of TV journalists. Get off your ass and fix this!” he would shout into the phone.
Our phone calls were the last get-togethers we had. He called often to tell me what was going on, to brag about a former student who was doing well, to yell about something he had recently seen that was embarrassing to the news business, to tell me about a young journalist to keep my eye on.
I will miss those phone calls. I will miss Pete, although the image of him shouting in a TV newsroom, his white shirt half out of his pants, his angry outbursts, and then that smile and laugh that made you feel you had done something right .A word of praise from Pete about a story you had written or a piece you had cut was worth everything.
When I left news to do my documentaries, Pete would see me in the hall and say, “How’s the air up there? When are you going to get back into the trenches and do the real work of journalism again?” And then a long pause, and that heavy hand on my shoulder and a whisper: “You’re doing God’s work, Saltzman. Keep it up.”
R.I.P. Dear Pete Noyes. There will never be another one like you.
I’ve been in this tv news business for more than 40 years now, so I’m no green kid. But I felt like one every time I had the chance to talk to Pete Noyes. It wasn’t his age, I would have felt the same way if we were contemporaries. It was simply that while we were in the same profession, literally at times occupying the same spaces, there was a fundamental difference between us. I work in tv news. Pete WAS TV News. No one reading this needs me to chronicle the stories he broke. We all know them, in fact millions of people know them. He was smart, dogged, unrelenting, irascible, and more stubborn than a mule with a PHD. And holy hell could that man tell a story. Pete and I lived in the same neighborhood, so I would run into him from time to time. I never left those impromptu visits without taking something valuable away from the encounter. I’ve never had much tolerance for journalists who spend a lot of time lamenting the state of the profession, or recounting exaggerated stories of the good old days. But when Pete indulged in remembrance, it always left me feeling somehow challenged to do my job a little better than I had been. I am uncertain about what lies after this existence here on earth. If there is a heaven, that’s where Pete is right now. If there is a God, here’s a friendly heads up: if you think that just because he has passed through the Pearly Gates, Pete Noyes is going to stop asking tough questions, or speaking truth to power, you clearly weren’t paying attention, and you are in for a surprise. Rest well Pete.
Rochelle Shapiro Kanoff:
Bob: my deepest sympathy to you, the rest of Pete's friends and former colleagues, and of course, to his family. I felt lucky to have met him at the Newsgeezers events, and he was always so warm, friendly and welcoming every time I saw him. He was truly a legend.
My sincerest condolences.
Sending my deepest condolences to all of you who were friends with Pete and are grieving his passing.
Even though I didn't know him, I certainly knew his reputation and the regard in which he's held in our industry. He clearly had a major influence on local broadcast journalism.
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March 2, 2021