Robert (Bob) Pattison
William (Bill) Steckman
At the Seventy-Seventh Annual Awards Banquet the VWOA awarded memorial plaques to the families of these six men. The following brief tributes appear in the VWOA 2002 Yearbook.
Gerard CoppolaGerard Coppola was a broadcast engineer for WNET-TV. His interest in radio dated from his boyhood in East Orange, New Jersey, when he built a radio station in his basement. He combined this with his interest in and love for music when he broadcast to his neighborhood. Eventually his personal broadcast station became a website, (NJPeople.com/jrod) which has been maintained as an electronic memorial. He was also a radio amateur and an accomplished musician who composed and performed his own songs. He joined the WNET Engineering staff in 1985. He was a key member of the Thirteen family and was a known to many within the Engineering community in New York and throughout the Public Broadcasting System.
As a transmission engineer his duties took him to the tall buildings of Manhattan and the tunnels and sub-basements of the underground. He established paths for the cultural gems of Lincoln Center and laid stereo audio lines to Europe.
His last message from the transmitter on the 110th floor was that he was powering down the system.Donald DiFranco Donald DiFranco was on duty at the WABC-TV transmitter facility on the 110th floor of Number One World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th. He had taken the three stage elevator ascent from the lobby, as he had done many times before. He was especially involved with a new HDTV transmitter.
When the first plane struck the tower he phoned in to WABC TV Master Control to report an explosion in the building and that he had been ordered to evacuate. There was no word after that.
Previously, he had worked at Channel 25 in Brooklyn. He was a member of NABET-CWA, Local 16 and was held in high esteem by his fellow members. They mourned the loss of such a special individual, for his commitment to principle and the indelible mark he left on all who knew him. He has been described as a quiet man who made people feel comfortable in his company. He was soft spoken, intelligent, funny, and warm-hearted. He was especially remembered for his meticulous attention to details and his devotion to the perfect operation of the equipment in his charge.
Steve JacobsonSteve Jacobson was with WPIX for twenty two years. He began with an assignment at the Empire State Building. When the stations transmitter was installed at One World Trade Center in 1981, he was given the responsibility of its maintenance. His diligence is testified to by the fact that the transmitter was out of service for less than two out of 175,000 hours of operation.
He was on the job during the 1993 bombing. He endured heavy smoke conditions and worked with security units until the fire was extinguished. When power was restored, he got the station back on the air. As was the usual situation, Steve was alone on the 110th floor when the tower was attacked.
Steve was an important part of his religious community and often led services. He was renowned for his sense of humor and his devotion to his family. His skill and commitment to keeping the transmitter in perfect operational condition was an inspiration to his coworkers.Robert (Bob) Pattison Bob Pattison was a native of Woburn, Massachusetts. He began his career with a four year stint in the United States Air Force, where he worked in the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, broadcasting news and entertainment programs to military forces stationed around the world. Later, he worked for WHDH-TV and other television stations in the Boston area. He came to New York in 1996 to work for ABC. In 2000, he joined WCBS-TV and was working as transmission engineer at the World Trade Center on September eleventh. He and his partner, Isaias Rivera, kept the station CBS control room aware of the developing problem until the line went dead.
Isaias RiveraIsaias Rivera was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1950, and came to New York City with his parents at the age of fourteen. He began his thirty three year career with CBS while still working on his degree at John Jay College. He continued his technical education while working in the video tape library and becoming a video tape editor. He eventually took on the responsibilities of broadcast maintenance engineer for the transmitter department.
In 1993, when the World Trade Center was attacked by a terrorist bomb, he performed above and beyond the call of duty and was recognized for his contributions to the safety of others and the preservation of vital communications. He was on duty in the transmitter room at WCBS-TV on the morning of September eleventh and sent word of the developing problems until contact was lost.
Isaias relied upon his firm faith in God to guide his life and through his ministry he had an important influence on many lives.
William (Bill) SteckmanBill Steckman joined NBC in 1967 after competing his enlistment in the Coast Guard. As the youngest of the engineers that maintained NBC's television and radio transmitters, he was assigned to the midnight shift on the 85th floor of the Empire State Building. It was a lonely job, isolated from human contact, but he came to like it because it gave him more time with his growing family. His engineering skill soon became a legend. As an amateur radio operator, he worked to set up one of New York City's first ham television repeaters.
His job moved to One World Trade Center in the early 1980's when the WNBC-TV transmitter was installed on the 104th floor. He had the sole responsibility for the operation of the transmitters. He became so expert that when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Bill was the one who got the station back on the air.
His coworkers at NBC remember him as "the quiet man who worked in the middle of the night and could reassure you with just a few words."