Late NBC newsman David Bloom — who died April 6 of a pulmonary embolism while in Iraq covering the war — made quite an impression on his superiors when he first went to work at the network in 1993. "It was apparent to us from the start that there was something very special about this guy," says NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, who was a producer at the Today show during Bloom's early days at the Peacock. "He was only 28 years-old at the time, and there was something very magnetic about him. He was a terrific reporter, and he grew to become the best reporter of his generation."

To say that the 39-year-old Bloom was enthusiastic about his job would be an understatement, laughs Zucker. "I remember when he was White House correspondent, and I was producing the Today show, he did a report live from the front lawn and just went on and on and on, and wouldn't shut up. I told him afterwards, 'David, if I wanted a soliloquy, I would have hired Shakespeare.'

"And then," Zucker adds, "when I talked to him two weeks ago from Iraq, I said, 'Hey David, I'm glad we never hired Shakespeare, because you've gone on and on, and you've been great.' He was phenomenal. It's a huge loss for all of us."

It's safe to say the folks at Today, where Bloom served as weekend co-anchor opposite Soledad O'Brien, were hit the hardest by the news. The morning of his death, a solemn Matt Lauer and Katie Couric joined O'Brien in paying tribute to their fallen colleague. Their grief was palpable. "It was exactly what they wanted to do, because he deserved it," Zucker says of the trio's decision to take to the airwaves just hours after the tragedy. "This has been an incredibly difficult week for everybody who works at NBC. It wasn't just losing one of your own, it was losing one of your own whom everybody loved."