Mike Pintek, longtime reporter and talk show host on KDKA Radio, died early Wednesday after battling cancer for more than a year.
Pintek, 65, announced to listeners in May 2017 that he had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer.
He continued hosting “The Mike Pintek Show” on KDKA Radio, airing weekdays from 12 to 3 p.m., until July, when he took a leave to focus on his health. His cancer treatment was complicated by a stroke.
“I succumb every now and then to say: Why me?” Pintek told KDKA. “But the better question is: Why not me? Why am I special?”
His colleagues and guests remembered him as a blunt-talking and opinionated but fair news personality who cared about Pittsburgh and the region.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told KDKA Morning News hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway on Wednesday that he was often the object of Pintek’s criticism, but he appreciated his sincerity and work ethic. He said Pintek would appear in the studio lugging a stack of paperwork to back up his positions and ask pointed questions about issues of the day.
“When he would have a criticism of me or my administration, he certainly would allow me to come on and defend myself and say, ‘Look Mike, this is the reason we’re doing this, this is the reason we’re doing that,’” Fitzgerald said.
“I took it in the spirit of like this is a guy who cared about the community. We might have had a different philosophy, but he was fair in allowing us to go on there and make our case.”
He said Pintek continued lively discussions with guests and callers despite the cancer.
“He’s battling this horrific disease, and he didn’t change the way he operated,” Fitzgerald said. “He wanted to have the same battles he would have over public policy or whatever it might be, and I think it really says a lot about him and his character. He just wanted to go to work and didn’t want people to really make a big deal of what he was going through.”
Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik told Richert and Shumway on Wednesday that he and Pintek often disagreed, but they had a mutual respect for each other.
“I visited with Mike for maybe two or three hours a couple weeks ago, and at the end of our visit, he was at total peace,” Zubik said. “Mike confided in me when he was first diagnosed with the cancer. He was, as all of us would be when you first show that diagnosis, he was so afraid about what that could mean in his life. We differed strongly, and even when I visited with him, we laughed about that; but nonetheless it was a strong friendship.”
Pintek started his career in 1974 as news director and anchor at WNOW Radio in York. In 1976, he moved to WKBO Radio in Harrisburg, where he was first to report a problem at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant after noticing steam was not pouring from the cooling towers and firefighters at the scene, according to KDKA.
He worked as morning news anchor at WASH-FM in Washington, D.C, before moving to KDKA in 1982 as a reporter. He became a talk show host in 1985.
He died at the Vincentian Home in McCandless. Pintek is survived by longtime partner, Linda Guiler, a daughter, Hadley, and a sister, Mary Ann Krynock. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary and Carl Pintek.
Public visitation for Pintek will be held from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Schellhaas & Sons Funeral Home, 1600 Stone Mansion Drive, in Franklin Park.
Staff writer Brian Rittmeyer contributed to this report. Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobbauder.