Memories of Pittsburgh TV & Radio Personalities from My Childhood
Growing up in the Pittsburgh area in the 1960s and '70s meant that media personalities from KDKA TV/Radio, WTAE and KQV loomed very large in my young life. (And with no cable channels back then their presence was even more ubiquitous.) Here, in alphabetical order, are the names and faces from that era that I remember best. (This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just the people who made a lasting impression with me.)
She rocked the boat as Pittsburgh's first female TV sports announcer, first appearing on KDKA in 1973. Not very knowledgeable about sports, she lasted just two years. She died in 1989 at the age of 49.
Bogut came to Pittsburgh in 1968, working for KDKA Radio. I listened to his show as I got ready for school and still remember his creepy/comical ode to the "Slithery Dee". He's still on the radio, now on WJAS, and I listen to his show whenever I visit my mother. Amazingly, his voice hasn't changed. I'm not certain about his age, but the fact that he was married in 1961 suggests he's in his early-80s. (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Bogut.)
The face/voice of radio station KQV during the 1960s. He vied with KDKA's Clark Race as the city's most popular DJ. He died in 2018 at the age of 83.
A legend, the Walter Cronkite of Pittsburgh. He anchored the KDKA news for 36 years. All business, Burns had a gruff, Lou Grant type persona and was the consummate professional. He died in 1997 at the age of 84. His daughter Patti also worked for KDKA and was very popular. Sadly, she died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 49.
Best known for hosting Chiller Theater and Studio Wrestling on Saturdays. His following from Chiller Theater got "Chilly Billy" a small role in Night of the Living Dead (filmed north of Pittsburgh). Interestingly, Cardille is the only person on my list from WIIC-Channel 11 (NBC's Pittsburgh affiliate). Despite undergoing open-heart surgery back in the 1980s, he's still active, with a radio show on WJAS. Amazingly, at the age of 85, his voice sounds as youthful as it was 50 years ago. (Update: WJAS changed to a Talk format in August 2014 and dropped Cardille as well as Jack Bogut; sadly, Cardille passed away in the summer of 2016.)
Cope possessed the most distinctive/abrasive voice in Pittsburgh broadcasting, if not the nation (even more so than Howard Cosell). He was truly a motormouth, but a beloved one. His proudest achievement was probably the creation of the "Terrible Towel" for the Steelers in the mid-1970s. He died in 2008 at the age of 79.
Currie was the lead sports announcer for KDKA in the 1970s, coming here from North Carolina where he was known as "The Mouth of the South." He wore garish, brightly colored sports jackets often with wild patterns. For me he wore out his welcome rather quickly. He died in 2008 at the age of 85.
JOE DE NARDO
Pittsburgh's most famous meteorologist, De Nardo began his career with KDKA, but is best known for his long career with WTAE from 1969 to 2005. I saw him a number of times shopping at the K-mart near his home in Moon Township. Situated close to the airport, he groused about the planes' flight patterns that brought them over his house. Then shortly after he moved the airport closed and relocated! He died in the summer of 2018 at the age of 87.
Although Joe De Nardo may have had a higher profile, Bob Kudzma was my favorite weatherman, serving as KDKA's on-air meteorologist for 34 years (1968-2002). He reminded me of Pat Sajak. I wrote to him for advice about having a career as a meteorologist and he replied. He passed way in February 2021 at the age of 81.
Best known for his time as anchor on WTAE from 1969 until 1994. He was very stern looking, even more so than Bill Burns. Reminded me of Nikita Khruschev (and my Uncle Joe). He died in 2002 at the age of 86.
Most famous for a Saturday afternoon bowling show in the 1960s on WTAE (Championship Bowling) and Bowling for Dollars in the 1970s. (It was a proud day in our neighborhood when our neighbor from across the street appeared on the show and won $500.) Unfortunately, his reputation was tarnished by a state lottery scandal in the 1980s. However, since I was no longer living in Pittsburgh when it happened my memory of him is still as a bowling personality. He died in 2003 at the age of 86.
BOB PRINCE & NELLIE KING
Prince was the larger-than-life radio/TV play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates until 1975. "Kiss it Good-bye!" was one of his most famous sayings. He died in 1985 at the age of 68. Nellie King was his mild-mannered sidekick from 1967-1975. He died in 2010 at the age of 82.
Popular KQV DJ in the late '60s thru early '70s, when he was in his 20s. In the 1990s he went to the dark side and became a conservative talk-radio host. He's now in his late 70s (as of 2020).
Clark Race was the Dick Clark of Pittsburgh. He was probably the market's most popular DJ, on KDKA, and also hosted a popular dance show on KDKA-TV that aired on Saturday afternoon; it ran from 1963 until 1966. His show would begin with the intro, "Hello Clark Race, hello - and welcome to the show!", which was followed by the instrumental String of Trumpets. He died in 1999 at the age of 66.
Her signature blonde coif gave her a very glamorous persona. I remember her best for doing the weather during WTAE's evening news in the late '60s, but she was a constant TV presence with various reporting roles. Sadly, she died from COVID-19 in November 2020 at the age of 88.
Avuncular KDKA radio personality who was lovingly called "Uncle Ed". He had already clocked many years with the station when I listened to him give the weather report in the morning while I was getting ready for school. Often mentioned his wife Gertrude. I also recall that he used to promote Pappin's restaurant. He died in 1990 at the age of 77.
Host of the children's show Adventure Time which aired weekday afternoons at 4:00 on WTAE. He sat among the kids as Dick Clark did on American Bandstand. Famous for the characters Nosmo King and Knish. He'd introduce cartoons and shorts by The Three Stooges with the line, "So down goes the curtain - and back up again." He died in 1990 at the age of 80.
Before he went over to the "network" side Dick Stockton was KDKA TV's sports director from 1967-1971 when he was only in his his 20s. There was something in his demeanor that suggested that bigger things were in store for him. He's now 77 (as of 2020).
With her New York pedigree, she was the grand dame of Pittsburgh television. She was with KDKA from 1962 until 1977. In my youthful mind she and Bill Burns were the First Couple of Pittsburgh. Her claim to fame was going to jail for 10 days for refusing to reveal one her sources when she was a newspaper reporter in New York in the 1950s. She had a charming, sophisticated laugh that brought to mind Kitty Carlyle or Arlene Francis. She died in 1997 at the age of 73.
I remember her best for hosting Jr. High Quiz which aired on Sunday on WTAE from 1965-1982. I always wanted to be on that show but our school district (Sto-Rox) wasn't chosen in the years I was in high school. Before the quiz show she was known for hosting the Ricki & Copper Show, which starred her dog Copper. What I remember best about the show was the Hostess cupcakes she handed out to kids in the audience who were celebrating their birthdays. (Although this show and Adventure Time had a live studio audience of kids I never had a desire to be on either.) She recently died (July 2021) at the age of 86 in Chicago.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I really enjoyed reading about each individual, all of whom I remember from my youth in the burgh. I guess I have Paul Shannon to blame for my life-long addiction to the Three Stooges. How about Hank Stohl?
Posted by: Phil Conte | 05/30/2016 at 12:10 PM
Good heavens did this bring back a flood of memories. Two notables I'd add: Ed and Wendy King. Their radio show "Party Line" was particularly memorable during the Halloween season. I remember listening to their spooky stories after a night of trick-or-treating.
Thanks for the memories.
Posted by: David | 12/07/2016 at 10:49 AM
I was a big talk show fan back in the 80's. WTAE had a great lineup. Doug Hoerth, Lynn Cullen,Dimitri,etc.\
I got a lot work done around the house listening to them.
I was on Clark Race's local dance show. Often wondered if those tapes exist.
Posted by: joe | 12/16/2016 at 05:21 PM
I was on Jr. High Quiz in March of 1972. You had to be in eighth grade to be on.
Posted by: Len | 12/26/2016 at 12:45 PM
Lee Arthur is dead.
Posted by: Bogie Fan | 02/16/2017 at 10:48 AM
Oh my, how long ago did this happen?
Posted by: Rob | 02/16/2017 at 11:58 AM
There was a show on wtae in the early 1970's that televised a local fashion show.
It may have been called "High School Sewing Class". Does anyone remember this show or who may have been the host?
Posted by: Carol | 02/22/2017 at 04:08 PM
I remember meeting Ricki Wertz and her dog Copper when I was little and when I was six years old I saw Moe Howard standing outside of the Holiday House Night Club. I was with my grandmother shopping at the Miracle Mile Shopping Center across the William Penn Hiway. I yelled and waved and said "hello Moe". He waved and hollered back. He was old then. That was in 1959. During the Bushy Run Battlefield Park Bicentennial in 1963, I was dressed as a Mohawk Brave and was on the Don Reed King Show on KDKA TV. Does anybody remember him or Mr Wrinkle?
Posted by: Paul Hearn | 03/01/2017 at 10:20 AM
Marie Torre died, in 1997, at the age of 73, NOT 84.
Lee Arthur died, from a brain tumor, in the same year.
Posted by: Aviva Radbord | 04/01/2017 at 08:25 PM
Thanks for pointing out Marie Torre's age at the time of her death. It's been corrected.
Posted by: Rob | 04/02/2017 at 12:52 AM
Great Stuff. I guess I have Paul Shannon to thank for my lifelong addiction to the stooges as well. And I am 70 years old. Helluva an addiction.
Posted by: Phil Conte | 04/07/2017 at 02:53 PM
What a nice run down of TV and Radio personalities! While from Ohio, I spent a lot of time in the 60's and 70's at my grandparents home near Beaver Falls. I met Paul Shannon once at at promo visit at a grocery store. I used to watch some of these programs, and the names are very familiar.
I am something of a radio buff, especially the history of broadcasting, which is why I've always had a warm spot for KDKA. One reason I am in broadcasting to this day in Ohio.
I will always remember my grandfather on the back porch listening to "my Pirates" and Bob Prince.
Posted by: Mike McKay | 04/08/2017 at 10:00 AM
Whatever became of Ed Martz, KDKA-TV's "The Triangle Kid?" I was on his show as a youngster and was fascinated by the taping and studio.
Posted by: Mike Bowman | 09/07/2017 at 01:24 AM
Hi Mike, that's interesting since this is the first time I'm hearing of this person. When was this - in the 1980s, or earlier?
Posted by: Rob | 09/07/2017 at 11:24 AM
Hi Rob, I'm 99% certain that was his name. The program was video taped during the week and I believe aired on Saturday mornings. This was around 1959 or very early 60's. I was just a young whippersnapper back then. LOL
Posted by: Mike Bowman | 09/07/2017 at 01:21 PM
I WAS ON CAPN JIMS POPEYE SHOW, DON'T KNOW IF ANYONE REMEMBERS THAT SHOW-----ALSO REMEMBER
MICKEY MOUSE CLUB WITH BY WILLIAMS
Posted by: TIM RYAN | 09/19/2017 at 05:39 PM
And lest we forget Rege Cordic (Cordic & Company) who dominated the morning radio market on KDKA from 1954 to 1965. Cordic died April 16, 1999, at age 72.
Posted by: Mike Bowman | 10/03/2017 at 05:31 PM
I believe Hank Snow had a kiddie show on and created Knish and Rodney J., not Paul Shannon
Paul did have more and Larry on his show. Curly died young.
Posted by: Jim whalen | 01/12/2018 at 05:16 AM
Oops it was Hank Stohl who created knish and rodney. He was on KDKA and later WTAE.
Posted by: Jim whalen | 01/12/2018 at 05:37 AM
So glad I stumbled upon this site. It's great!
Posted by: Lucy Knepp | 02/11/2018 at 11:38 PM
I enjoyed your site and memories of Pittsburgh. I share many of these memories and tell stories you may like on my site: www.butlercountyboyhood.com
Posted by: Richard Arthur | 03/15/2018 at 02:56 PM
Hi Richard, I'm glad you found my blog - and thank you for the link to yours. So far I've read the posts about the new shopping center, the visit to Forbes Field and the touching tribute to your baby brother - it was beautifully written, and brought tears to my eyes (by the way, my middle name is Alan). I'll be making time to read your other posts as well.
Posted by: Rob | 03/17/2018 at 01:34 PM
Anybody remember Marty Wolfson (I think that was his name) who had a kids program where he told stories and drew the story on a large easel. He had kids in his gallery and each got their own drawing pad. My Cub Scout pack was on (live) one day and my dad worked until 5:30 at the Alcoa building and had to leave early and stop stop at a local pub (maybe the Brass Rail....remember that.?) and had them change the channel on their TV so he could see me on the TV show. I have no idea what channel that was.
Also, there was a 15 minute live show with 3 cowgirl singers. Dusty (played guitar), Gay (played that BIG bass "fiddle") and a 3rd who I can't remember her name. Any ideas..?
Posted by: James Fellows Jr | 08/13/2018 at 11:18 AM
Lets not forget Joe Negri!
Posted by: August Franze | 03/09/2019 at 04:20 PM
What about Reg Cordic! And Frothingslosh!
Posted by: Loisrae | 06/13/2019 at 11:28 AM