WKBN and WYTV News Director Gary Coursen lost his battle with cancer this afternoon. He was just 55 years old.
Coursen began his career at WKBN TV in 1979 as a news photographer after graduating from Hubbard High School and Youngstown State University. For 25 years, the videotape Coursen shot graced TVs throughout Youngstown. He was on the scene when the steel mills shutdown, for Jim Traficant's first trial, and the tornado of 1985.
Coursen later became WKBN's chief photographer and in 2003 was named news director. Coursen was a quiet leader. He was not a micro-manager, though everyone in the news department knew he was in charge.
Coursen focused his entire 34-year career on the Youngstown market. One of his greatest professional achievements was as architect of the 2007 merger of the WKBN and WYTV news departments. He was proud of how it all came together. When he spoke of it right after the merger, he said it was a challenge but that we would have “a news machine going here in the Youngstown market. The viewers should come out of this a winner.”
This past summer, Coursen was diagnosed with cancer that was centered around his nasal area and had moved into his brain. There were chemo-therapy and radiation treatments and then last Thursday an operation to remove the cancer. First deemed a success, there were complications and he went into a deep coma over the weekend.
Coursen died with his family at his side.