SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s not just us here at WTOC feeling the loss of Craig Harney’s, but all across Savannah and the Coastal Empire.
No one will ever fill his seat. The one where so many ideas were born and were nurtured - the place where Savannah’s storyteller didn’t just make TV. He made art. And made a difference.
“He unlike any other person I ever worked with in this industry, touched nearly every department we worked in, be it storytelling, shooting news, going and producing parades. He was a true renaissance man,” said WTOC General Manager Larry Silbermann.
Craig Harney meant everything to WTOC - to its people, to its image, to its identity in the community.
And across 40 years, he did everything at this station, starting out answering phones at night and working up to second in command behind three different general managers who considered him as much counsel as coworker.
Along the way, he was WTOC to the many organizations he covered and became part of, making their story a big story any time he told it.
“In my 10 years as chairman of the 200 Club, there was no one more engaged in our mission, no one who was willing to go anywhere to represent what we do and share our story than Craig,” said Lowell Kronowitz, Chairman of the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire.
“And he was in so many parts of the community,” said Sam McCachern, 2012 United Way Capital Campaign Chair. “Craig was community. You could see that with the Irish festival or united way or the Turkey Trot was this week and Craig was always there right after you go across the starting line, Craig was there filming that event on Thanksgiving Day.”
A self-proclaimed "blue collar guy,'' Craig worked harder than anyone you’ve ever met. But his real gift was that you never saw the work in his stories that were effortless and eloquent, intelligent and compassionate - every one of them important to him. His only intention to make someone else look good.
That’s what Tim Williams learned in his 10 years working for Craig.
“He knew no other way to accomplish a goal than to put maximum effort into it. There was no half doing a job for him,” said Williams.
“He would go above and beyond, often at his own expense, to get a shot, to get that certain line to get some resource for one of his videos," said Savannah Rotary past President Rick Monroe. "Nothing was too much work for him to do to have the end product be up to his standards, which were above everybody else’s.”
“I’ve told multiple people he was the best boss I’ve ever had, but he was an even better friend,” said Williams.
Craig was known everywhere for his work. But he knew himself first as a family man - Maggie and Annie’s father, Suzanne’s husband for 37 years.
His family shared him with Savannah, his hometown. And now, a grateful city shares in his family’s deep sense of loss.
“As the things when you would have experienced Craig and the production he would have done, that’s when you’re really going to feel it,” said Dale Critz Jr.
“Whenever you were around Craig Harney and you left his presence, you felt better about yourself. He was just that encouraging person,” said Monroe.
“He’ll be remembered by everyone differently. Because he was just such a friend to everyone he met and everyone has their story of how he impacted their life,” said Silbermann.
“I would say his legacy to Savannah is introducing all of us to each other, that he told those stories or if you were involved in Rotary or you were involved in United Way or any of these myriad organizations, he introduced us to each other through his storytelling,” said Williams.
Craig's signature, almost reflexive response any time he was asked how are you doing was to say "never better.'' If you knew him, you can hear him saying it.
And he was right, you know - because there never was and never will be any better than Craig Harney.