Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Steelers’ former radio announcer Myron Cope dies at 79

A true pioneer of the sports broadcasting industry and inventor of the famous Terrible Towel, Cope leaves a tremendous legacy and foundation throughout Pittsburgh and the United States.

By ALAN ROBINSON, AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP)—Myron Cope spoke in a language and with a voice never before heard in a broadcast booth, yet a loving Pittsburgh understood him perfectly during an unprecedented 35 years as a Steelers announcer.

The screechy-voiced Cope, a writer by trade and an announcer by accident whose colorful catch phrases and twirling Terrible Towel became nationally known symbols of the Steelers, died Wednesday at age 79.

Cope died at a nursing home in Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb, Joe Gordon, a former Steelers executive and a longtime friend of Cope’s, said. Cope had been treated for respiratory problems and heart failure in recent months.

Cope’s tenure from 1970-2004 as the color analyst on the Steelers’ radio network is the longest in NFL history for a broadcaster with a single team and led to his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2005.

“His memorable voice and unique broadcasting style became synonymous with Steelers football,” team president Art Rooney II said Wednesday. “They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and no Pittsburgh broadcaster was impersonated more than Myron.”
One of Pittsburgh’s most colorful and recognizable personalities, Cope was best known beyond the city’s three rivers for the yellow cloth twirled by fans as a good luck charm at Steelers games since the mid-1970s.

The Terrible Towel is arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team, has raised millions of dollars for charity and is displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Upon Cope’s retirement in 2005, team chairman Dan Rooney said, “You were really part of it. You were part of the team. The Terrible Towel many times got us over the goal line.”

Even after retiring, Cope—a sports talk show host for 23 years—continued to appear in numerous radio, TV and print ads, emblematic of a local popularity that sometimes surpassed that of the stars he covered.

Team officials marveled how Cope received more attention than the players or coaches when the Steelers checked into hotels, accompanied by crowds of fans so large that security guards were needed in every city.

“It is a very sad day, but Myron lived every day to make people happy, to use his great sense of humor to dissect the various issues of the sporting world. … He’s a legend,” former Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker Andy Russell said.

Cope didn’t become a football announcer until age 40, spending the first half of his professional career as a sports writer. He was hired by the Steelers in 1970, several years after he began doing TV sports commentary on the whim of WTAE-TV program director Don Shafer, mostly to help increase attention and attendance as the Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium.

Coincidentally, a pair of rookies—Cope and a quarterback named Terry Bradshaw—made their Steelers debuts during the team’s first regular season game at Three Rivers on Sept. 20, 1970.

Neither Steelers owner Art Rooney nor Cope had any idea how much impact he would have on the franchise. Within two years of his hiring, Pittsburgh would begin a string of home sellouts that continues to this day, a stretch that includes five Super Bowl titles.

Cope became so popular that the Steelers didn’t try to replace his unique perspective and top-of-the-lungs vocal histrionics when he retired, instead downsizing from a three-man announcing team to a two-man booth.

Just as Pirates fans once did with longtime broadcaster Bob Prince, Steelers fans began tuning in to hear what wacky stunt or colorful phrase Cope would come up with next. With a voice beyond imitation—a falsetto so shrill it could pierce even the din of a touchdown celebration—Cope was a man of many words, some not in any dictionary.

To Cope, an exceptional play rated a “Yoi!” A coach’s doublespeak was “garganzola.” The despised rival to the north was always the Cleve Brownies, never the Cleveland Browns.

Cope gave four-time Super Bowl champion coach Chuck Noll the only nickname that ever stuck, the Emperor Chaz. For years, Cope laughed off the downriver and often downtrodden Cincinnati Bengals as the Bungles, though never with a malice or nastiness that would create longstanding anger.

Among those longtime listeners was a Pittsburgh high school star turned NFL player turned Steelers coach—Bill Cowher.

“My dad would listen to his talk show and I would think, `Why would you listen to that?”’ Cowher said. “Then I found myself listening to that. I (did) my show with him, and he makes ME feel young.”

Cope, who was born Myron Kopelman, was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred, in 1994. He is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Daniel, who is autistic and lives at Allegheny Valley School, which received all rights to the Terrible Towel in 1996. Another daughter, Martha Ann, died shortly after birth.

Rep. John Lewis Switches From Clinton To Obama

All I can say is "finally!" as it's been in the talk for weeks now, but Lewis, the Civil Rights hero, denied it. Here's the latest report, below. This is a major development, as Lewis is considered a hero in the Civil Rights Movement and was a close from of Dr. Martin Luther King. Atlanta's Monica Pearson broke this story.

John Lewis Switches Support To Obama

POSTED: 12:36 pm EST February 27, 2008
UPDATED: 2:05 pm EST February 27, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Georgia Congressman John Lewis told WSB-TV Channel 2's Monica Pearson Wednesday that he is switching his support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.
Pearson met with Congressman John Lewis Wednesday afternoon in Washington. She was the only Atlanta TV reporter Lewis spoke to about his switch.
Talk had been swirling that Lewis might switch his endorsement from Clinton to Obama. Lewis is a superdelegate who will cast his ballot at the Democratic National Convention.
Lewis told Pearson he was switching his support because his district voted for Obama and he believes Americans are looking for a great change. He also said he had not spoken to Clinton or Obama about his decision.
Please refresh this developing story for updates. Watch Channel 2 Action News at 5 & 6 for more on Monica Pearson's interview with Lewis.

William F. Buckley Dies At 82 - One Of My Heroes Even If I Disagreed WIth Him

I really am sad that Dr. Buckley has passed on because he was one of my intellectual heroes, even though I did not agree with him. You wonder how that can be? Well, it's the way he ordered his thoughts and his style of debate, as well as his life and times. He was the "foil" to my other hero, the late John Kenneth Galbraith, and it's no accident that they were friends as well.

William F. Buckley Jr. dies at 82

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer 15 minutes ago

NEW YORK - William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.


His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook at his home in Stamford, Conn. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.

Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of "Firing Line," harpsichordist, trans-oceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for his magazine, the National Review.

Yet on the platform he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.

"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. "I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone."

Buckley had for years been withdrawing from public life, starting in 1990 when he stepped down as top editor of the National Review. In December 1999, he closed down "Firing Line" after a 23-year run, when guests ranged from Richard Nixon to Allen Ginsberg. "You've got to end sometime and I'd just as soon not die onstage," he told the audience.

"For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television," fellow conservative William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said at the time the show ended. "He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement."

Fifty years earlier, few could have imagined such a triumph. Conservatives had been marginalized by a generation of discredited stands — from opposing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to the isolationism which preceded the U.S. entry into World War II. Liberals so dominated intellectual thought that the critic Lionel Trilling claimed there were "no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation."

Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." Not only did he help revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics, his persona was a dynamic break from such dour right-wing predecessors as Sen. Robert Taft.

Although it perpetually lost money, the National Review built its circulation from 16,000 in 1957 to 125,000 in 1964, the year conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate. The magazine claimed a circulation of 155,000 when Buckley relinquished control in 2004, citing concerns about his mortality, and over the years the National Review attracted numerous young writers, some who remained conservative (George Will, David Brooks), and some who didn't (Joan Didion, Garry Wills).

"I was very fond of him," Didion said Wednesday. "Everyone was, even if they didn't agree with him."

Born Nov. 24, 1925, in New York City, William Frank Buckley Jr. was the sixth of 10 children of a a multimillionaire with oil holdings in seven countries. The son spent his early childhood in France and England, in exclusive Roman Catholic schools.

His prominent family also included his brother James, who became a one-term senator from New York in the 1970s; his socialite wife, Pat, who died in April 2007; and their son, Christopher, a noted author and satirist ("Thank You for Smoking").

McCain Backs Away From Racist Cunningham Words | Dodd Endorses Obama - Video

Senator John McCain was forced to back away from racist words by Bill Cunningham, a local shock-jock radio host that was called to introduce John McCain. Meanwhile, Senator Chris Dodd endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President. More on the McCain issue later.