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John Korbel, UL professor, former KATC news director, dies

Posted: 11:56 AM, Aug 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-26 18:07:07-04

John Korbel, who led several Louisiana newsrooms – including KATC’s – and instructed prospective journalists in the craft, has died after a battle with cancer.

He was 76.

“Surrounded by his loving wife & family, John Korbel, friend & award winning journalist, passed away at 6:30 p.m. today in hospice at his home in Metairie, Louisiana. He ended his career as a highly respected professor of journalism at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette,” a post on Korbel’s Facebook page states.

KATC’s Scott Brazda penned the following tribute:

John came to KATC in the mid-nineties, and immediately brought a “big city news gathering” professionalism to our station. No one could juggle the elements associated with breaking news better than John; he made sure we had all aspects of the story covered. And if we needed satellite trucks for stories in Baton Rouge or New Orleans, John had the relationships in those markets to make it happen. Under his watch, he created what I believe to be the best and deepest team of reporters Acadiana has ever seen.

You’ve heard the term “players’ coach”? Well, John Korbel was a broadcaster’s News Director. If you had done your job, John always had your back and defended you to viewers or management.

We were a true family at KATC – all because of John and our love and respect for him. We would have done anything for the man.

On a professional level, no one meant more to my career than John Korbel. He was the one who made me a main news anchor at KATC and it was under his watch that I proudly began my long association with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and through that, my role with The Stuller Family Foundation.

Personally? If John hadn’t come to KATC as news director, my wife Suzanne – who had worked with John at WWL in New Orleans – would never have come to Lafayette and KATC. No Suzanne, no 21 years (and counting) of marriage. No fabulous children. No teaching at UL. And really, no Scott Brazda.

Pure and simple: I don’t believe I would have experienced the many blessings I have in my life without John Korbel.

I have lost a father figure, a mentor and a dear friend. John Korbel was the best.

Here’s one from KATC’s Dave Baker:

John Korbel truly had the passion for news. He was the old school news director. He had endless contacts, covered news better than anyone, and always made sure it was done right. John didn’t just guide us through our careers, but guided us through life. He always had our backs when we covered severe weather and hurricanes. I personally loved watching John in action in the newsroom. Thank you for being such a great “head coach” of our news room. It was an honor playing on your team!

Social media tributes began early Sunday.

UL Communications Professor William Davie posted the following this morning:

“This Sunday Yuling and I are giving our thanks to God for the life of John Korbel, 76, who was my friend and colleague for 20 years. He led a good fight against cancer but passed Saturday in Metairie, La. Originally from Chicago, John led the TV newsrooms in Lafayette and New Orleans, and for years taught students at Loyola and UL Lafayette the basics of writing and reporting,” Davie wrote. “To say John was beloved by his students would be an understatement. His classes, elective and required, maxed out in enrollment and the praise of his students was sky high. When we saw him yesterday, Yuling shared the Chinese proverb, “A teacher for one day is a parent for life.” John nodded with a knowing smile.”

This, posted by former KATC anchor Deborah Terribile Stewart:

Thank you John for being more than a boss💔. You made going to work fun.

From former KATC sportscaster Kent Masson:

During my time in television I had the opportunity to be surrounded by some extremely influential people. I learned so much about the business from all of those individuals.

However, John Korbel was one newsman and journalist who stood out for me in that professional life. His keen awareness of important local news items was something to admire. He knew what angles to take in those stories and what would grasp the viewers’ attention.

Not only that but he was someone you could talk to easily. He will forever remain not just a coworker but a friend.

Thank you John for giving me my first on-air job. It was a life decision I will never regret.

My prayers and thoughts are with him and his family.

Former KATC anchor Agnes DeRouen:

Hello John,
I am thinking good thoughts and praying for you and your family. You are at the top of my list as a great friend, mentor, and a man who could always make me laugh. I wish you peace,my friend.