The Last Townie
A WVOX Commentary
By William O’Shaughnessy
December 15, 2020
“Don” Dominic Procopio was an agreeable and beloved presence in our city for as long as we can remember and he was powerful.
He owned a wine company and was chairman of our Civil Service Commission. Mr. Procopio was also the Padrone of the Casa Calabria over whose annual dinner he presided.
The Calabria dinners would begin promptly at 6:30PM and continue until well past midnight with the main course not being proffered until 11:30PM. The organizers and exhausted waiters would then mercifully push a rolling Venetian table onto the floor in the wee small hours loaded with sweets and cappuccinos laced with anisette.
Many hundreds of our neighbors and a posse of judges attended these soirees to toast and pay tribute to “Don” Dominic. One of them, Mr. Justice Frank Niccolai, served as master of ceremonies at the specific request of “Don” Dominic.
Among the honored guests were Billy DeLuca, a child of the west side who is now one of the most important beer and beverage distributors in the country and Nick Trotta, who ran the Presidential Protective Division of the US Secret Service. At table were also any lawyer who ever aspired to a judgeship in the region.
By day, Dominic Procopio presided daily at a Posto 22 luncheon which was attended by police commissioners, city managers past and present and all the elders of city hall whose ranking could be determined by how close they were seated to Mr. Procopio.
I’ve accused him of being “beloved.” And he was that. “Don” Procopio was a politician the way those of our father’s time imagined them to be as he constantly did favors for the less fortunate and those without standing or stature in our home heath.
He was also a great patron and supporter of this particular radio station WVOX. And we loved him for it.
With “Don” Procopio’s passing an era ends in the Queen City which now officially and forevermore becomes a “make it happen … do what it takes … gettin’ it done … aging city … firmly fixed in the so-called modern era with its uncaring, unfeeling … at arm’s length … way of doing business.
The man was up there in years and he battled multiple-myeloma, pneumonia, skin cancer on his handsome head and, near the end, Covid, all of which ultimately combined to overwhelm and take down this good and widely respected soul.
I’m writing a book called “Townies” and you can be damn sure there will be a chapter on one “Don” Dominic Procopio.
But right now, I’m just very sad, as is our entire city.
William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington. He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization. He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for over 60 years as president and editorial director.
He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He has also written “Mario Cuomo: Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo. His newest book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology with interviews, commentaries, speeches and tributes was published in 2019. He is presently working on Townies, a paean to those without wealth, influence or high estate in suburban Westchester County, the heart of the Eastern Establishment.
Cindy Hall Gallagher