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TV Headhunter, Blogger Fitzpatrick Dies

Don Fitzpatrick, once one of TV's top headhunters and perhaps the industry's first blogger, died over the weekend. A longtime friend, Scott Tallal, says Fitzpatrick was found dead in his Alexandria, La. home shortly after being treated for intestinal bleeding at a local hospital.

Fitzpartrick's primary business was as a recruiter for local-TV news talent. Based in San Franciso, Don Fitzpatrick Associates (DFA) was pivotal in helping TV journalists land jobs, move from small markets to a bigger ones, or jump from positions as a reporters to anchor desks. "Don guided the careers of thousands of people in the industry," says Tallal, president of research firm Insite Media Research.

Tallal recalled Fitzpatrick's earliest days as a headhunter trying to build a tape library of talent from TV stations. Fitzpatrick outfitted an RV with 3/4-inch video recorders and would drive around the country, stopping in at a market to tape the newscasts of all the stations, then moving on to the next. The tapes would be copied and edited so clients could be sent a sample of, say, 20 female anchors.

Fitzpatrick was also blogging on TV years before it became a verb, and indeed years before there was a World Wide Web. In the late 1980s, he helped start Fitz's ShopTalk (initially called Rumorville) as an e-newsletter and a forum at online services The Source and Compuserve. Each day, he would digest articles on TV from various newspapers and magazines around the country, focusing primarily on stations. Later, the project morphed to the Web and became Fitzpatrick sold TVSpy to job Web site The Vault and closed DFA in 1999.
“Don Fitzpatrick was a friend to so many of us in the industry and will be sorely missed,” said Radio-Television  News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran. “His knowledge of the industry was encyclopedic, and he shared his insights generously. All of us at RTNDA will miss him very much.”
RTNDA gave Fitzpatrick its John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award in 2005 for service to the industry.

Fitzpatrick’s funeral will be in Alexandria, said RTNDA, tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 21. 
Visitation is scheduled from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, and on Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at John Kramer & Son funeral home in Alexandria. A wake will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home.
A funeral Mass will held 10 a.m. Friday April 21, in Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Burial will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville. Pallbearers will be Mark Rosenthal, Thomas Swift, Freddy Revels, John Bowling, Michael Hall, and David Hall.
The family requests memorial to the American Cancer Society, 1450 Peterman Drive, Alexandria, La., 71301. Notes of condolence may be sent via e-mail.