This past weekend, WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) reported that former news director Patti McGettigan died Saturday (2/16) after a long battle with cancer. McGettigan was 53.
She became WOOD TV’s news director in 2000 and served in that role until leaving the station in 2009 to serve as news director at stations in Indianapolis and Memphis.
“Patti was a driving and trans-formative force — leading us with her strong convictions, solid decision making, and great compassion for her team and the community we serve,” WOOD-TV Director of Operations Kevin Ferrara wrote in a staff memo sent out Saturday evening. “She had the incredible vision to see the endgame to each decision with great foresight and clarity.”
One of McGettigan’s proudest accomplishments was her work on an award-winning special called “Race in Reality”. It aired in 2005. The program examined the role race plays in the community and the consequences of racism and discrimination. The initiative ultimately garnered the station a national RTNDA Unity Award.
“She didn’t just tell us what to do, she shared her reasoning and inspired us to push ourselves to be better,” Ferrara wrote in the staff memo.
The station noted that many who respected McGettigan often talk about her eye for talent. She recognized and invested in the talent of some who remain a part of WOOD TV’s news product today and others who’ve moved to large markets and the national stage — like ABC Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee and CBS Chicago news reporter Brad Edwards. She didn’t hire him, but also worked closely with ABC News correspondent Steve Osunsami during his time at WOOD-TV.
“For the ‘very Irish’ little girl who was destined to be in journalism, growing up on Dale Street in Dearborn, watching Walter Cronkite and Bill Bonds every night in her living room with her dad, you too are now a legend to many of us,” Ferrara wrote. “You’ve made an indelible impact on WOOD TV and TV journalism.”