Herb Denenberg, 81, has left us and with his death one of the unique voices in broadcasting has departed. Every station, local and national, does “consumer reporting” now. Denenberg started it all as the former Insurance Commissioner of Pennsylvania and as the consumer voice crying in the corporate wilderness for WCAU-TV (Channel 10) for 24 years, mainly in his spot, Denenberg’s Dump.
We went after goofy products and carpet-bagging big-shots. He warned his fans, advised them and cautioned against deals that were too good to be true. In many hours of congressional testimony as Insurance Commissioner and as corporate advocate, he exposed every shady business practice he could find.
He had an annoying, whiny voice, the diplomacy of a sledgehammer and the heart of 100 lions. He was intent on saving people from their own gullibility and from the rapaciousness of businesses that are perfectly content to improve their bottom lines at the expense of the health and welfare of men, women and children. Denenberg actually read the fine print; demanded to speak with the people in charge and put the fear of media retribution into the black hearts of crooked business people everywhere. You can’t do much more for your fellow man than that. Herb showed an entire broadcast industry the right way to do it.