David Gomberg, 86, a legendary behind-the-scenes "idea man" and mentor in Philadelphia TV news, died Wednesday, May 30, at his home in Cherry Hill.
Known professionally as Dave Neal, Mr. Gomberg had suffered from congestive heart failure and kidney failure, his family said.
Mr. Gomberg worked for all four TV news operations in Philadelphia as well as KYW radio. He was an assignment manager, producer, or adviser to such luminaries as Larry Kane, Jessica Savitch, and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.
"So many people owe their careers to Dave Neal," said Cherie Bank, the longtime medical reporter at WCAU, who was lured to Philadelphia in the late 1970s from St. Louis by Mr. Gomberg.
Kane recalled Mr. Gomberg as an "idea man" who created the consumer advocate feature "Denenberg's Dump" for WCAU reporter Herb Denenberg, the "Sidewalk Gourmet" for WPVI's Hank Sperka, and the "Energy Warden" for Dick Sheeran of KYW.
Bank said Mr. Gomberg convinced Savitch to drop her suede outfits and cowboy boots and "dress like a Philadelphian."
"He forged a very heavy path," Kane said of Mr. Gomberg's career.
Mr. Gomberg was born and raised in Camden. He worked for a while at his father's Camden shoe store. "He always said he went from shoe biz to show biz," said his wife of 62 years, Rosalie.
The couple moved to Cherry Hill when it was still known as Delaware Township, she said.
In 1961, Mr. Gomberg joined WCAM radio in Camden as a salesman and quickly switched to working behind the microphone.
At some point he created the name Dave Neal by combining his first name and his son's first name, his wife said.
Mr. Gomberg joined KYW radio in 1965 and then was recruited to KYW-TV in 1971. He later worked briefly at WPVI before spending the rest of his full-time career at WCAU.
He didn't quite retire, and consulted on a part-time basis with WTXF, the Fox affiliate, Kane said.
Mr. Gomberg was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2010.
"In every newsroom, there are people who are natural-born mentors. Dave was one of those guys," said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, who worked with Mr. Gomberg in the mid-1980s. "He helped shape the careers of many of us at NBC News, including Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell."
In his spare time, he enjoyed playing saxophone with a jazz band, his wife said.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Gomberg is survived by daughters Nina Birnbaum and Merri; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister.
The funeral service will be at noon Sunday, June 3, at Platt Memorial Chapel, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill. Burial will be in Crescent Memorial Park, Pennsauken.
Memorial contributions may be made to Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Dr., Suite 300, Marlton, N.J. 08053.