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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 January 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 2015 25 TRIBUTE TO KOSTAS NIKOLOPOULOS He never compromised PETROS KOSMOPOULOS I'm saddened to hear about t h f h t the passing away of my form mer colleague and friend, Kostas Nikolopoulos. While I found Kostas to be a hard taskmaster, he was also fair, loyal and generous. He had a great sense of humour, too. Everyone who knew him would, I'm sure, mention his wit and love of a good laugh. He was also a proud man and ne w n ver compromised his professional integrity, under any circumstances. Kostas wrote many breaking stories and interviewed numerous politicians for the media outlets he represented since the mid-1970s. Many will also remember him at SBS Radio, where his distinctive booming voice would inform Greek speakers of the day's news. Most people owe their career start to someone. I owe mine to Kostas. In 1987, when I was an 18-year-old university student, he took me under his wing when other media outlets were closing their doors to me. It is tremendously difficult to break into the s t w media. Kostas was willing to give me a go. He persisted with me until I learnt the craft while finishing my full-time studies. I occasionally tell the story about how he never published my first 20 articles. He kept me grounded. Kostas tested me to see if I'd develop the thick skin that was required to work in the media. Those articles were returned full of corrections in bright red. It was a humbling experience. He taught me a valuable lesson in humility, too. His words to me were "read, read, read, write, write, write ... you can always improve your writing even if you've been in the profession for 30 years". I recall on many occasions he'd return from his morning stint at SBS Radio and call me to his office. I'd pick up a cup of black coffee for him and I'd sit opposite his desk. He'd light cigarette after cigarette and proceed to dispense life and career advice to me. I listened intently. While the room was full of cigarette smoke, Kostas' advice came across crystal clear. Vale Kosta FOTIS KAPETOPOULOS I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my Neos Kosmos colleague Kosta Nikolopoulos. He died too young. Kosta was an intelligent, articulate and elegant man, exceptionally well-versed on the intricacies of Greece's and the Greek diaspora's politics and society. He was a great community activist and his support and work with Hellenic Independence activities were broadly recognised by all. He was a generous and open man, open to diversity of cultures, lifestyles and political views. Once I left Neos Kosmos for the premier's office, he would ring me on a regular basis with the classic Kosta question: "Hello my boy, what's up, any news, what's going on in there?" This innocuous sounding question was anything but. That question meant that Kosta had heard something, and I needed to get my story straight. Kosta was very funny. In his baritone voice he would always say loud enough for all to hear: "You know why we (he and I) are the most elegant and most intelligent in here Foti? Because we are from Patra!" So Kosta my man, see you on the other side one day, I will pour libations tonight for you and thank you for all the great conversations, the mentoring and the friendship. Love to your family. Kosta, yes, we are both Patrini. In fact, the sight of Kostas drinking black coffee with a cigarette in his mouth, phone to his ear and punching at the keyboard with only minutes left to meet the incessant media deadlines has remained etched in my memory. Kostas loved backing the underdog. The media industry is brutal, especially to the beginners, and Kostas was my mentor and protector. On occasions, he picked up the phone and blasted those who unfairly treated me. I recall him scolding a colleague in Sydney who wasn't willing to be patient with me. A few sports club administrators were at the end of his trademark signature lectures about fairness, justice and allowing access to all media. I enjoyed being on his team because he was a great team player. Cross one of Kostas' teammates and you'd hear about it. After a couple of years learning the trade, Kostas appointing me sports editor. He gave me responsibilities beyond my experience. I grabbed the opportunity wholeheartedly. My career in communications took off. I worked with Kostas at The Greek Herald between 1987 and 1992 and at Neos Kosmos until 1995, where I served as the newspaper's English editor. After I left the media, unbeknown to him that I was at Australia Post, Kostas rang the company's corporate affairs group to enquire about stolen mail that was destined for Greece. I returned his call. It was weird defending the corporation's position while Kostas asked me questions about how we were dealing with the situation. Despite our previous working relationship, he approached this story as he did any other. He ensured we both maintained our professional integrity. This was the way Kostas worked. In recent years, our paths occasionally crossed at Oakleigh Shopping Centre. He wanted to know how my career was progressing, how my children, wife and parents were doing. His interest was genuine. The Greek community has lost a great member. His support and involvement in a number of community organisations was well known. The media profession has also lost a very talented journalist. His legacy will live on in the pages of the Greek Herald and at Neos Kosmos, where he spent the last two decades plying his trade interviewing ministers, premiers and prime ministers. Kostas loved his job, but above all, loved his family. He was a great family man. I recall every time his family contacted him, he'd instantly drop what he was doing to talk to them. While work was important to him, he knew where his first priority lay. Kostas had the terrible misfortune of losing his eldest son in a tragedy a few years ago. You're not meant to outlive your children. The pain, I imagine, would be unbearable. Each time we met following that tragedy, I sensed that the deep sorrow of losing his child never departed him. Thank you, Kostas, for having faith in me. Thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Καλό ταξίδι...
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