EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — It is a sad day for many people in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
Former Eyewitness News anchor Keith Martin has passed away at the age of 75. He died from from natural causes near his home in South Carolina. Keith was a fixture on local television news for three decades
Keith Martin was a newsman, a journalist who wanted to get it right. He was a leader. And most of all a friend to Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
“From those very first days when families like mine sat in living rooms like this to watch WBRE on TV’s like this, they saw a commitment to inform viewers, not just to entertain them. We call it news,” Martin said in 2003.
In the video player below is a story from the Eyewitness News archive that aired in 2003. Former WBRE anchor and reporter Kathy Bozinski spoke with Scranton police officer Bob Martin, Keith’s brother, about his legacy:
And for more than three decades, Keith Martin was the face of local news in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. A native of Scranton, he first signed on the air at WBRE in 1977 as the main anchor. Kevin Lynn was sports director in those days.
“I wouldn’t have time to tell you all the things he taught me about being an honorable newsman. He thought it was an honor to represent the First Amendment. He thought it was an honor to tell people things, have them repeated as true and have them be true,” Lynn said.
Lynn says he heard about Keith’s passing late Sunday.
“I was overwhelmed with sadness and but only for that moment only for that moment Andy because every other memory I had with Keith is not only formative and instructional and he was a great newsman and he was an honorable guy. He was a great friend,” Lynn said.
Keith Martin the newsman was also a commissioned officer in the Army, Army Reserve and the Pennsylvania National Guard for 34 years, serving with distinction in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1969 and 1970. His younger brother Robert says Keith was a true patriot.
“His life was constantly moving maybe not fast-forward but it was very controlled and dedicated. He continued right on through his military life. That was big to him, that was huge,” Robert Martin said.
His brother says Keith always wanted to get it right in no matter what he did in life, especially as a journalist.
“He was dedicated to that public life. I mean no question about it, he always…he was up-front. He wanted to get the news out and get it correctly. He was always adamant about that making sure it was covered properly,” Robert Martin said.
He says Keith was not only a brother but his best friend.
“I mean he was just a big loveable guy and full of knowledge. I always looked to him. I’m lost now, because whenever something got in my way or I had to stumble on something, he was the first phone call,” Robert Martin said.
Keith’s first stop at WBRE ended in 1980. He returned in 1990 where he was the main anchor until 2003 when he was appointed by then-Governor Ed Rendell to serve as Pennsylvania’s first director of Homeland Security.
Former Scranton mayor and high school friend Jimmy Connors says Keith was truly an asset for the region.
“He knew everything about every story. He knew how high up they reached up into government. All the way up to the White House or into Congress. He knew those people,” Connors said.
And anyone who watched Keith, or worked with him knew that he knew the value of reporting the news accurately.
“All I want to do is thank all of you for letting me be a very small part of your life and I guess you’ve all been a big part of my life the past three years. I enjoyed it this is home it always will be,” Martin said in 1980.
Keith was a true professional and friend to many of us here at Eyewitness News and his passing quite many here in this newsroom are still trying to come to grips with the fact that our mentor and friend is gone.
But Keith would also be the first person to say: Get on with it. We have a job to do to serve the public as journalists.
Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania lost a friend this past weekend as did many of us at Eyewitness News.
Former longtime news anchor Keith Martin died at the age of 75. His passing saddens many at Eyewitness News who worked with Keith for decades.
Keith was a mentor to so many people over the decades who worked as journalists and broadcasters. Those who report the news every day in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. His loss is being felt by many people who viewed him as a friend. A person they can trust.
“Our first job is to do the usual which is a great job of turning,” Martin said in 2000.
There was no doubt about it. Keith Martin was the leader of the Eyewitness News team in the late 1970s and then again from 1990 to 2003. He never waived from his mission, whether it be here at home or reporting from the other side of the world on events that impacted Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
“We not only have to look at the battlefield as flat. We have to consider it in layers,” Martin said in 1991.
Keith was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and was a commissioned officer in the Army, Army Reserve and the Pennsylvania National Guard for 34 years.
He retired with the rank of Colonel with promotions to Brigadier General upon his retirement. He was appointed Pennsylvania’s first Homeland Security Director in 2003.
On this day, many of those at Eyewitness News who worked with Keith and learned from Keith reflected upon his passing.
“Andy, I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with Keith Martin not only as a journalist, but as my mentor and as my friend. Keith touched so many lives. He made everyone feel so special. I think he was the ultimate anchorman. He came in, he knew the news, he knew politics. He knew every aspect of the news,” Eyewitness News Special Projects Executive Producer Jayne Ann Bugda said.
“He was the consummate professional. He was the ultimate leader. Even with all that, he was one of us. He was a down-to-earth guy. He liked to joke around, he was never condescending,” Eyewitness News 5 p.m. Producer Dave Becker said.
Keith set the standard for the entire Eyewitness News team for decades. A standard that we still work toward today.
“He’s a legend. He not only was so talented individually but he brought out the best with others he worked with. I think certain people, they demand respect. That wasn’t Keith. He just commanded respect,” Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter and Anchor Mark Hiller said.
“He was just such a newsman. As Jayne was saying earlier, we all looked up to him,” Eyewitness News Executive Producer Katherine Lachette said.
Photographer Mark Albrecht worked with Keith in the late 1970 ‘s and then again from 1990 to 2003.
“A leader. I mean there was no question. This is a guy who could lead the troops in Vietnam. He could lead the troops in the newsroom,” Albrecht said.
He was truly one of a kind. And we can to continue to work hard to maintain his legacy of serving the people in Northeastern Pennsylvania as journalists.