Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Robert Licata, Award-Winning LI Journalist, Dies at 50 --

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Flags flew at half-staff over Hofstra University yesterday in remembrance of a professor who friends and colleagues called a consummate journalist and teacher.

Robert Licata, assistant professor of journalism, media studies, and public relations at the college, died Sunday of kidney failure. The Bellmore resident was 50 years old.

Licata spent 21 years as a producer of Cablevision's news shows on News12 Long Island. Cablevision is the parent company of Newsday.

"He loved being behind the camera," said his wife, Paula Ganzi Licata.

From 1981 to 2002, he produced weekend and feature pieces for the cable news show, including a highly-regarded 1994 documentary on the history of Levittown, according to News12 officials.

He won many journalism awards from the Press Club of Long Island and the Fair Media Council, and was once nominated for an Emmy, a Hofstra University press release said.

"Bob Licata was a terrific guy with a great sense of humor and he loved the news business as much as anyone I've ever worked with," said Patrick Dolan, president of News12 Networks. "He will be missed."

In 1997, Licata joined Hofstra's School of Communications as an adjunct instructor for broadcast journalism. In 2005, he was named full-time assistant professor, and won the communication school's 2007 Teacher of the Year.

As a teacher, he was known for his passion for news - something he often passed onto his students, colleagues said. Len Thon, a Hofstra colleague and longtime friend, said Licata was often seen in his office flipping through the news channels with newspapers spread across his desk.

Those who knew him remarked on his boundless energy and good humor.

"It was not possible to not like him," Thon said. "If you were waiting for a bus, you would be his friend in two minutes."

His wife of 23 years, who is a freelance writer, said he was "interested in everything." She called him a good man with a good heart. "I'm thankful that he gave me such a wonderful life," she said.

Licata grew up in Howard Beach, and attended New York University. He received his master's degree at Hofstra University in 2004.

In addition to his wife, Licata is survived by his father, Sam Licata of Howard Beach, and brother, Richard Licata of Los Angeles. He was predeceased by his mother, Nancy Licata.

Visiting will take place 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today and tomorrow at the N.F. Walker Funeral Home, 2039 Merrick Ave., Merrick. Funeral services will be held 10 a.m. Friday at Bellmore Presbyterian Church, 2740 Martin Ave. (corner of Bellmore Avenue), Bellmore.

Bio from Hofstra website...

Robert Licata, Assistant Professor (MA, Hofstra University) is a 25-year veteran of broadcast news from both sides of the camera. As an undergraduate in NYU's School of the Arts, Professor Licata shared classes with acclaimed film directors Chris Columbus and Spike Lee, but it was the television newsroom that beckoned. Fueled by his keen interest in programming and news, Professor Licata's producing and writing talents were tapped for a diverse body of producing at Cablevision, and he became one of the pioneers in the development of News 12 Long Island. He is the recipient of awards from the Long Island Press Club and the FOLIO's. Professor Licata has also produced promotional videos showcasing musical artists, worked with the foundation that became The American Museum of the Moving Image, and sat on several media panels. In addition to teaching journalism and media studies, Professor Licata is an active journalist with ongoing multimedia projects for Newsday, including the recent "Our Natural World" series and the current weekly television program "Act Two," a joint venture with Newsday and PBS channel 21, complementing his academic research in contemporary multigenerational issues. These projects have received local and regional recognition.