Paul Sullivan has died. I heard it on the way to work this morning on WBZ Radio (AM 1030), where he had hosted a talk show until his illness forced him to step down in June. Sullivan was also political editor of the Lowell Sun. Here’s a rundown of the coverage:
— “The Sullivan Family and the WBZ family lost a real treasure,” says the station’s news director, Peter Casey. “Paul Sullivan brightened up every room he ever entered and every life he ever touched. Right now, our thoughts are with Paul’s wife and their five children and Paul’s extended family.” (WBZ Radio)
— “Paul Sullivan, the irrepressible veteran Sun columnist, popular radio talk show host and educator who turned his battle with cancer into an example of the bravery and grace with which such epics can be fought, has died.” (Lowell Sun)
— “His handling of his illness was a classic insight into the man,” says WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and radio political analyst Jon Keller. “He refused to make a spectacle of it and downplayed it with self-effacing humor.” (Boston Globe)
— “God gave us in eight years what most don’t have in 80,” says Sullivan’s wife, Mary Jo Griffin. “Paul came into my life and taught my girls by example how they should be loved by a man. I’m most grateful for that. I think he is at peace.” (Boston Herald)
I did not know Sully well, but his demeanor was such that you would think you’d known him your entire life. Every so often he’d call me out of the blue and ask whether I could come on his show to talk about a media topic. It was always a welcome invitation. Sully’s style — like that of the late David Brudnoy, whom he replaced in 2004 — was to let you have your say, but at the same time to challenge you if he thought you were laying it on a little thick.
Ironically, and tragically, Sully attained his greatest professional success just as he was beginning what would prove to be a long battle with melanoma. Sullivan learned he had cancer in late 2004, just before Brudnoy himself died of cancer. Sullivan, who’d been a late-night host and frequent Brudnoy fill-in, got the coveted 8 p.m.-to-midnight slot — as Brudnoy had wished — and filled it with distinction during the short time he had left.
Media Nation’s thoughts go out to the Sullivan family and to his professional families, WBZ and the Sun.