Kevin Tedesco, the longtime “60 Minutes” publicist who has seen the show through nearly of its tenure on air, is retiring after a quarter century at CBS News.
CBS News released no official statement about his departure, but the show revealed he was leaving via its Twitter feed on Friday. His last dispatches on behalf of the program appear to be releases offering details of stories contained in the November 28th broadcast of the show: an Anderson Cooper report on hazing, Lesley Stahl’s report from Rwanda about its mountain gorillas and Bill Whitaker’s profile of actress and singer Rita Moreno.
“When I started in this business, pictures were slides or 8 x 10 prints you messengered to the publication or you delivered yourself to make sure it didn’t get lost before deadline,” Tedesco said in a note to colleagues Friday. ” I actually used a typewriter on a few early jobs. Now the things we use in this business are nothing short of magic; you could say I began my career in the stone age and left at the dawn of the passenger space travel.” He said his job with the show represented “the best job in television PR,” but declined to take part in an interview, noting via email that “PR folks do not seek the limelight, we are supposed to summon it and shine it on others.”
Tedesco, a former advertising executive with the agency once known as Young & Rubicam who joined CBS News in 1995, has become an essential ingredient at the CBS News institution, where the segments often last between 11 minutes and 13 minutes — an eternity in the medium. He has long provided first word on what “60 Minutes” will cover each week, then shepherded each piece as it draws scrutiny from other media outlets and the world at large. Tedesco has, with an old-school demeanor, served the show during moments of triumph, as well as its controversies. He has also long served as institutional memory at CBS News, providing critical details on past anchors and correspondents, as well as their history.
“He has worked with everybody from Mike [Wallace] to Lesley [Stahl] to [Scott] Pelley. His eye for a good story to reach out to important media and news writers is second to none, and we are going to miss him,” says Bill Owens, the executive producer of the venerable newsmagazine, in an interview. “He really does have — it’s almost like a ‘Rain Man’ quality of knowing when we covered a story, who did the story, what season, what month of the year. It’s going to be a big loss.”
(Pictured: Kevin Tedesco and Don Hewitt, former executive producer of “60 Minutes.”
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