Bob Kappstatter was one of three assistant city editors at the Daily News the day in 1994 when his boss told him “congratulations, you’re going to the Bronx.”
Kappstatter, who lived in Brooklyn, was incredulous.
“I looked at him and I said ‘the Bronx!? You’re sending me to the (expletive) Bronx!?’
But it did not take long for the newspaper veteran of nearly three decades to fall in love with the borough.
“A week after I got up to the Bronx, you couldn’t drag me away,” Kappstatter said.
“Kappy” oversaw the Daily News’ Bronx bureau from then until January, 2011 and left the paper altogether on Friday, November 4, when he was a casualty of a round of layoffs. In addition to dispatching reporters to cover the fertile Bronx streets, Kappstatter wrote a popular Bronx-based political column, beginning in the late 2000s.
The 68-year-old plans to keep working. He also vows that the column, which he calls “not a political column, (but) a gossip column with politics,” will find a home.
“It’s been a great career – and it’s still not over yet,” Kappstatter said. “I’ve covered and rubbed shoulders with famous people, mobsters, politicians, and common people with great stories.”
The Bronx political/slash gossip column was Kappstatter’s most celebrated recent work. He shared his take on the inner workings of borough’s politics, with who was eying what job, who was hiring new staffer.
He coined popular nicknames for some elected officials, such as “The Rev” for Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., “Snooki” for Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and “Wascally Wabbit” for former senator Pedro Espada.
“I write it for people that don’t know inside baseball, inside politics,” Kappstatter said.
“It started as a place I could shove stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else, and then it was like ‘ooh, I can get away with this.
“I pick the targets,” he said. “They’re the ones that don’t pass the smell test, where you know there’s something worthy of throwing some darts.”
But that does not mean Kappstatter thinks every politician in the Bronx deserves those darts.
“While there are number of talented, hardworking politicians in the Bronx, thankfully there are a bunch to have fun with in the column.”
Kappstatter got his start in journalism while attending the University of Missouri in the 1960s. He worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Columbia, Mo. Bureau and a local radio station.
He joined the Daily News immediately after graduation and worked at the paper for over four decades.
Kappstatter covered the police, courts, late breaking news and also worked at the Daily News’ Brooklyn bureau.
“It’s been like a kid in a candy store,” he said. “The things I’ve seen and the characters I’ve met.’
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.