Sept. 10, 2001, was Jon Delano’s first day as KDKA-TV’s money and politics editor. Easing into the job was not an option.
Delano was no novice; he’s been a familiar face on the tube for some time as an analyst during election seasons. But this was his debut as a reporter, and the plan was to do some sample stories before rolling out reports for broadcast. His deep knowledge of government, public policy and politics, however, was too valuable not to be tapped during the days and weeks following Sept. 11.
“My whole career has been a series of unexpected developments,” Delano says.
The turns for Delano have often been into the fast lane. He began his career as an associate with Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, now Reed Smith LLP. Doug Walgren, not long after he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1977 with help from Delano, invited him to breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant, scratched out on a placemat a plan for organizing his office and asked Delano to help. Delano stayed in Washington for 14 years and served as Walgren’s chief of staff until Rick Santorum beat Walgren in 1991.
In 1993, Delano himself waged an unsuccessful campaign to win a seat in Congress.
Delano’s primary occupations these days are at KDKA and his duties as adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School, but he still finds time to write columns, offer his expertise as a political analyst in newspapers and on TV and radio, and take his turn getting his kids off to school.
With all the high-profile activities he’s been involved in, Delano rates as one of his proudest accomplishments a long but successful battle with the Pentagon while working for Walgren. Because of a technicality, two Pittsburgh-area Vietnam veterans’ names had been left off the Vietnam War Memorial. Delano ultimately convinced officials to include the names, and you get the impression that the effort was more love than labor.
Says Delano: “I love going up against bureaucrats who say it can’t be done.”