Arnold Diaz, TV Reporter Whose Beat Was to Disgrace, Is Lifeless at 74

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Arnold Diaz, a brash investigative reporter at three New York Metropolis tv stations who introduced righteous ardour to segments that shamed con artists, enterprise house owners, scammers, authorities bureaucrats and others who ripped off customers, died on Oct. 24 in Greenwich, Conn. He was 74.

The reason for the demise, at a hospital, was a number of myeloma, a blood most cancers, his son, Alex, mentioned.

Mr. Diaz needed not solely to resolve victims’ issues but additionally to embarrass the malefactors for his or her misdeeds. He confronted them, chased them and shoved microphones of their faces looking for solutions.

At WCBS, Channel 2, the place he spent greater than 20 years, his “Disgrace on You” investigations have been launched with a brief animation that featured a jingle and a hand with a wagging index finger. When the section moved to WNYW, Channel 5, it was renamed “Disgrace, Disgrace, Disgrace”; later, on WPIX, Channel 11, it was referred to as “What a Disgrace!”

“I’ve been fortunate to have had a dream job, standing up for the little man, sticking it to the unhealthy guys,” Mr. Diaz mentioned on Channel 11 final 12 months, when he retired. He added that his experiences “gave voice to victims whose complaints have been too typically ignored — complaints about awful landlords, grasping companies, incompetent authorities companies.”

One typical report, from the early Nineteen Nineties, spoke to individuals who had purchased credit-card-activated fax machines for $5,500 or extra that they have been advised, in a TV business, would reap fast earnings after being positioned in high-traffic places like airports for public use.

Within the section, the digicam zeroed in on the customers’ losses, the quantities circled in crimson on their checks. Mr. Diaz clutched paperwork that confirmed who had bought the machines; he mentioned that “Disgrace” had referred to as 34 folks on the listing and that not one had obtained the tools. He tracked down the corporate, Distribution Worldwide, to a “boiler-room” operation in a basement in Forest Hills, Queens, the place his inquiries to Sheri Cohen, the corporate’s president, went unanswered as he adopted her across the workplace.

When she advised Mr. Diaz that some fax machines had been put in, he demanded the place, however she refused to reply. And Ms. Cohen, like lots of of others confronted by Mr. Diaz over time, was inducted into what Mr. Diaz referred to as his Corridor of Disgrace.

In early 1993, she was charged with wire fraud by the USA lawyer for the Japanese District in Brooklyn. Mr. Diaz mentioned the workplace had credited “Disgrace on You” for making it conscious of the case. Ms. Cohen was convicted one 12 months later and sentenced to 41 months in jail.

Across the time of that report, Walter Goodman, a tv critic for The New York Occasions, praised a sequence of Mr. Diaz’s investigations.

“Anyone who has ever felt bilked by a automobile restore outfit,” Mr. Goodman wrote in 1990, “or has wound up with an over-the-hill hen or been exasperated by the town’s paperwork can cry amen to those mini-exposés, which gained two New York Emmy Award nominations final month.”

He ended the evaluate: “Hail! Hail! Hail! Hail to you, Arnold Diaz!”

Mr. Diaz acknowledged in an interview with Newsday in 2022 that he didn’t invent the aggressive sort of shopper investigation that grew to become his hallmark. However, he mentioned, he took satisfaction in how he tailored it for a New York viewers.

“New Yorkers love revenge,” he mentioned, “and, even when I didn’t clear up their issues, beloved that we uncovered” the wrongdoers.

His reporting led to some offended encounters, Alex Diaz mentioned in a telephone interview: Individuals would spit and curse at him. In a single occasion, a Manhattan jeweler, whom Mr. Diaz was investigating for shortweighing gold, menacingly slipped a gun on the desk in entrance of him.

By his rely, Mr. Diaz gained 48 New York Emmy Awards — so many, his son mentioned, that he lent some to prop homes to be used within the backdrops of TV packages.

Arnold Theodore Diaz was born on June 16, 1949, in Brooklyn, and moved along with his household to North Miami Seashore, Fla., when he was 5. His Cuban American father, Leonard, was an airline mechanic. His mom, Florette (Cohen) Diaz, was a police secretary.

Mr. Diaz graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in communications and media research from Florida State College in 1971 and earned a grasp’s in journalism the subsequent 12 months from Northwestern College. He quickly joined WPLG in Miami, and in 1973 he moved to WCBS, the place he stayed for 22 years.

Ann Sorkowitz, a producer who started working with Mr. Diaz at WCBS in 1976, mentioned he distinguished himself on breaking information tales and long-term investigations, equivalent to one on poisonous dumping in New Jersey. His investigations generated viewer mail, together with shopper complaints. The “Disgrace on You” experiences started within the late Eighties.

“Arnold determined to name it ‘Disgrace on You’ due to the old school notion of individuals working towards unhealthy conduct being shamed publicly,” Ms. Sorkowitz mentioned in a telephone interview. “The segments empowered folks. They acquired their issues resolved or acquired their a refund and vented their frustrations.”

Mr. Diaz left native tv in 1996 for a community job as a shopper investigative correspondent on ABC’s “20/20.” “I used to be concerned about bringing in that sense of shock journalism,” Victor Neufeld, this system’s former govt producer, mentioned. “He was the right native information particular person. He was very animated and energized, a crusader.”

However the tempo of a community newsmagazine, the place it took months for a report back to get on the air, “wasn’t his type,” Mr. Neufeld mentioned.

When Mr. Diaz rejoined Channel 2 in early 2003, he advised The Every day Information in New York: “Once you’re in native TV, you suppose, ‘Oh, if I may solely get to the networks.’ I’ve been there. I’ve been to the mountaintop, and the view isn’t any higher. Generally it’s worse.”

His return to Channel 2 lasted two years. He then moved to Channel 5, the place he stayed till 2014, and Channel 11, the place he stayed for eight years earlier than retiring.

Alex Diaz attributed his father’s passionate type to his Cuban background and to his upbringing, a minimum of early on, in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood.

“I used to be fascinated that he used the facility of disgrace like a weapon or a defend,” mentioned the youthful Mr. Diaz, who has the phrase “disgrace” tattooed on his stomach. “Disgrace is a name for introspection. It was much less casting a judgment than saying: ‘You realize what you’re doing is unsuitable. Be a greater model of your self.’”

Along with his son, Mr. Diaz is survived by his spouse, Shawn Callaghan-Diaz, whom he met when she was a set decorator for cleaning soap operas and the kids’s present “Captain Kangaroo” at CBS; his daughters, Shayna Wade and Casey Diaz; a sister, Susan Enslein; and twin grandsons.

When Mr. Diaz retired final 12 months, he mirrored on his experiences, together with one through which an insurer mentioned it might not pay for a Staten Island man’s prosthetic leg as a result of there was no proof that he needed to stroll. His reporting prompted the corporate to evaluate the person’s declare and approve it.

“I depart with no regrets,” Mr. Diaz mentioned. “I could miss the thrill however not the instances I’ve been shoved, spit at and threatened with weapons.”

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