Buffalo native Steve N. Wagner, who spent 40 years with WGN-TV in Chicago, died Thursday (Aug. 27, 1998) in Chicago after a prolonged illness. He was 70.
Wagner moved from Buffalo to Chicago in the mid-1940s to study at one of the first broadcast schools in the nation, American Television.
In 1948, he started his 40-year career with WGN, primarily as an events cameraman. He covered everything from the first broadcast of "Bozo the Clown" to the first night game at Wrigley Field.
He worked with countless celebrities, including Muhammad Ali, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, who were the "voices" of the Chicago Cubs. He regarded the highlight of his career to be WGN's live coverage of the Mass said by Pope John Paul II.
Regarded by colleagues as somewhat of an innocent troublemaker in his younger years, Wagner caught the attention of the Secret Service during a visit of President John F. Kennedy to Chicago. The television station had many cameras set up along Michigan Avenue to capture the event. As the president's limousine approached Wagner's area, he asked his director through his radio headset, "How do you want me to shoot the president?"
Wagner spent the next half hour trying to explain what he meant to three Secret Service agents who had grabbed him and shut down his camera.
Survivors include his son, Steven L. of Chicago; his father, Stanley F. of Sarasota, Fla.; a sister, Diane Zawistowski; and a brother, Richard.
A prayer service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Resurrection Mausoleum Chapel of St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga. Entombment will follow.