‘The Big Guy’ Brad Cesmat set to leave KTVK-TV Channel 3
14 commentsby Bob Young, columnist – May. 26, 2011 03:24 PM
The Arizona Republic
Not quite a year ago, Brad Cesmat, the local sports broadcaster you’ve come to know as “The Big Guy,” visited the spot where the ashes of his best buddy, the best man at his wedding, were spread outside of Las Vegas.
About six years ago, Pat McVey passed away from complications of systemic scleroderma,which damaged his lungs and skin.
At the time, Cesmat had no idea just how sick his friend had become. And only a few months after his best pal died, Cesmat nearly lost his wife, Chris, during the birth of the couple’s youngest child.
So when he visited that spot last year, Cesmat realized how short life can be.
He has four kids and has worked 18 years in the Valley on weekends and nights, first for KTAR radio and for the past eight years at KTVK-TV (Channel 3).
“When I was at the spot where the ashes of my best friend are spread, this wave went over me,” Cesmat said. “I thought, ‘What are you doing?’ That was probably when I started thinking maybe it’s time.”
Time, Cesmat decided, to leave Channel 3; maybe even leave the media altogether before his kids were all grown and gone and he had missed the best times of their lives – which would be the best times of his life.
So Cesmat recently tendered his resignation. His last day on the air is June 9.
It’s the day before his wedding anniversary.
Cesmat is 46 years old and doesn’t know yet what he will do next. He just knows that it will allow time for his kids and Chris.
“If I end up living under a bridge in a Kenmore washer box with my wife and kids, I’ll still be with my wife and kids,” he said.
“We push our families to the margins working in sports, and one day you wake up and you start looking around and realize what you’re missing.”
When he looked around, Cesmat saw a recent evening when one of his daughters attended her prom. He had to work that weekend – just like 47 others during a year.
So he described some highlights and bolted long enough to meet the family of his daughter’s date.
“They were very nice people; wanted me to sit down and have a glass of wine,” Cesmat said. “I told them, no, I have to get back to work. There was this whole house full of nice people having a great time.
“Normal, if you know what I mean.”
He saw his 6-year-old son, the one born when Chris was in danger during labor, who wants him to coach his youth teams. And he saw that he had made it to only two of his daughter’s soccer games between August and April.
So with more than a year remaining on his contract, he told KTVK-TV President and General Manager Nick Nicholson it was time.
“Channel 3 has been great,” Cesmat said. “They gave me a great opportunity when we took the bludgeoning in 2002 at KTAR and they let a bunch of us go.
“I told Nick I need to be a better dad and husband, and he said, ‘I get it. I know where you are.’ He couldn’t have been better about it.”
Cesmat said he isn’t done working. He’s a little excited to find out where life takes him. It could be doing speaking engagements, working in digital media or as a spokesman or broadcaster for a team.
He knows whatever he does, he’ll continue with his Big Guy Turkey Drive for the Salvation Army that he has spearheaded each Thanksgiving for 18 years, raising more than $1.3 million and bringing in more than 68,000 birds – a campaign so successful that the Salvation Army has used it as a model nationwide.
Meanwhile, he is drawing on some advice Jerry Colangelo gave him in 2002 after the KTAR blood-letting.
“He told me to just go underwater for a while, disappear for three or four weeks, and when you come up for air you’ll see things more clearly,” Cesmat said. “He was dead-on about that.
“So I’m going to go underwater for a while. When the time is right, I’ll resurface and my faith tells me that the right thing will present itself.”