David Gomberg, local broadcast pioneer

Posted: June 01, 2012

There’s an old story about the newspaper copyboy who was alone in a newsroom when a big disaster struck. He grabbed a notebook, ran to the scene and did such a good job covering it that he was promoted to reporter and his career began.

Something similar happened to David Gomberg. He was working as an ad salesman for radio station WCAM in Camden in the mid-60s when he got a call from a Jersey Teamsters Union official that Jimmy Hoffa, then the national Teamsters president, and controversial as always, was in town and none of the news outlets planned to cover him.

Dave borrowed a tape recorder, the old reel-to-reel kind, and rushed off to find Hoffa. He wound up doing an interview with the union boss that lasted more than an hour. That led to a job as news director of KYW NewsRadio, which had just started its all-news format, and David’s broadcasting career was launched.

David Gomberg, better known to Philly audiences as Dave Neal, news editor and producer at TV channels 3, 6 and 10, diedWednesday. He was 86 and lived in Cherry Hill.

Dave created a number of popular shows over his career, including Herb Denenberg’s "Dump," in which the late former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner consigned to a large trash can all products that he found to be useless or fraudulent. Dave also created Bill Kuster’s "Kuster’s Garden"; the "Energy Warden," made famous by Dick Sheeran, and Hank Sperka’s "Sidewalk Gourmet."

After the Hoffa interview, Dave sold a sound bite of his interview to KYW NewsRadio for a few bucks. He realized that while KYW Radio was paying him $3 a pop for his sound bites, using a total of 125 cuts, WCAU was paying $5 and the networks $25. He began providing cuts to all of them, using different names for each. Finally, KYW got tired of paying him all that money and hired him as news director.

In 1970, Dave moved from radio to TV to become a producer for Channel 3. Over the years, he continued as news director and producer for all three of Philly’s major TV stations.

Ron Avery was covering South Jersey for the Daily News in the 1990s when Dave was working with him out of the Camden City Hall newsroom. "He was the nicest guy," Avery said. "He was covering all of South Jersey by himself. He was a mentor to a lot of reporters who went on to have network careers. He had a great sense of humor. He was bald and wore various toupees. He once came in with a light toupee and said, ‘How do you like my summer hair?’ "

Dave was multitalented. Avery said he could fix anything, including cars. "He took a Volkswagen apart and put on a new body," Avery said. "He was a fine saxophone player and, after he retired, played with local groups around Camden. He studied under Grover Washington for a time."

For a couple of years, Dave had his own music program on WCAM, playing Jewish music and selling his own ads.

Dave hailed from Camden, where he grew up spending time at his father’s shoe store. It didn’t take him long to realize that selling shoes was not for him. He had the same feeling about sign-painting, which he did for a time before joining WCAM as a salesman.

He also served a hitch in the Army, where he played sax in an Army band.

On Nov. 19, 2010, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wife, Rosalie Gomberg; a son, Neal Gomberg; two daughters, Nina Birnbaum and Merri Gomberg; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Services: Noon Sunday at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Road, Cherry Hill. Friends may call at 11:30 a.m. Burial will be in Crescent Memorial Park in Pennsauken.

Contributions may be made to Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Drive, Suite 310, Marlton N.J., 08053.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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