Paul Long II

Few remember that Paul Long  broadcasted games for the Pittsburgh Pirates on KDKA.  On radio only, this ace newsman relieved Bob Prince and Jim Woods for away games on television from 1957 to 1962.  Television was of course rather primitive in those days.

The Pirates never televised any home games and only about half of the road games.  On Sunday doubleheaders the first game was on television and the second on the full radio network.  I guess they used the term “full radio network’ to keep fans from feeling cheated   Long was in the booth only for the first game.  After that, he either went ahead to the next road game or came back to Pittsburgh.  The Pirates had to make good without him for the nightcap.

Mr. Long delivery was colorful, literate, and fair.  His deep baritone voice was well suited to baseball telecasts.  PL was enthusiastic about the Pirates but was always dignified.  He never acted crazy like Bob Prince.  Also unlike Prince, Paul Long stayed  on the subject and did not drift into some pointless story.  As you might expect, I turned the sound off on the television to hear Long’s announcing.  After 1962,  Paul Long’s tenure with baseball ended.  The Pirates added Claude Haring on a more extensive basis.  Haring was with the Pirates for every game and he was horrible.

In 1968, there was a mass exodus from KDKA to other stations both in Pittsburgh and other cities.  After about six months off, Paul Long became the head newsman for WTAE Channel 4, the ABC affiliate.  Leaving Pittsburgh in 1970, I saw Paul Long much less frequently.  I can tell you that the ratings for Channel 4 news improved drastically.

Obituary: Paul Long / Longtime voice of WTAE News dies at age 86 Saturday, July 13, 2002

azette Staff Writers

Paul Long, an anchorman with unconventional TV looks but a majestic voice and encyclopedic knowledge of news, died yesterday at Presbyterian Senior Care in Washington, Pa. He was 86 and had suffered from congestive heart failure.

WTAE News anchor Paul Long in 1989 (Darrell Sapp, Post-Gazette)

Mr. Long, a Texas native who once picked cotton for $1 a day and prided himself on losing his Southern accent, joined KDKA Radio in 1946 and added television to his repertoire a decade later. In 1969, he moved to WTAE, where he and Don Cannon forged a successful anchor team as pal Joe DeNardo forecast the weather.

“I never saw anybody better,” Cannon said of the broadcasting veteran affectionately called “The Old Man,” “Pappy” (after Pappy Boyington, the ace war pilot in the TV series “Black Sheep Squadron”) or “P. Long.”

“He had a physical presence. Everybody wanted to have his voice. He talked like the voice of God,” Cannon said. Indeed, Mr. Long later “spoke” for God in a Burgunder Dodge commercial.

Mr. Long retired from Channel 4 on Dec. 30, 1994, a month shy of his 79th birthday. He had been a reporter and anchor who later served as the station’s editorial voice and anchored its “Our Town” features.

Former WTAE news director Joe Rovitto said, “It wasn’t just the voice, it was the voice in combination with performance. Paul Long understood above all else that journalism itself was not enough. There also had to be a powerful, passionate performance that went along with it.”

Cannon, now a KDKA anchor, agreed Mr. Long “epitomized everything a TV anchor should be: He was smart, he knew what was going on. I learned early on never to get into arguments with him because I had no chance of winning, especially when it came to religion and airplanes.”

Although Mr. Long was known for his bald pate (a distinction that once prompted Johnny Carson to hold up Mr. Long’s photo on his late-night show) and for his glower and cigars that burned tiny holes in his clothes and once caused a minor fire in a newsroom wastebasket, he had a wicked wit and was a terrific writer whose e-mail messages boasted perfect spelling and grammar.

Mr. Long left his family’s farm in the tiny town of Como, Texas, at 16 for college. “My father lost his job as postmaster and couldn’t afford to support me any more in college,” Mr. Long told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “But when I was there, I got into the drama class,” joined the choir and studied mechanical engineering because he wanted to learn to fly.

Paul Long takes part in a show being taped at WQED in September 1998. (Tony Tye, Post-Gazette)

With the help of his older brother, who sold his accordion and cashed in an insurance policy, Mr. Long took off for New York, where he spent three years pursuing acting jobs and working as a night clerk in a bakery. He appeared in a Broadway play called “Fickle Women,” which opened in December 1937 and closed the next night.

He eventually retreated to radio, working in Texas and then Louisiana, and later served as a flight instructor. When word came that KDKA Radio, whose powerful signal could be heard in Texas, was looking for a newsman, he got the job.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” Mr. Long said.

Mr. Long gained national notoriety on KDKA when he filed a report for NBC Radio’s evening newscast about a coal strike called in November 1949 by United Mine Workers leader John L. Lewis.

Mr. Long’s narration began: “John L. Lewis just shot Santa Claus. That’s what one miner told me this afternoon. And that seems to sum up the general feeling among all the boys who go down in the pits for a living.” Children were hysterical and Mr. Long’s follow-up clarified: “John L. Lewis shot at Santa — but he missed.”

In a 1988 issue of Executive Report magazine, Mr. Long said being a bald anchor had its privileges. “People figured if a guy looks like that, he must know what he’s talking about.”

Former WTAE anchor/reporter Adam Lynch remembered going out to cover a story where he met an older gentleman. “You’re getting all this stuff ready to take back to Mr. Long, aren’t you?” the man asked.

“That’s the way it was,” Lynch said. “I couldn’t be seriously angry or upset. That’s what Channel 4 wanted them to believe. It typifies the way the market thought of him, that Mr. Long ran the operation, and no one tried to dispel that notion.”

Cannon, who started working with Mr. Long in 1969 and stayed in touch until his death, remembers the first time he saw him on the air. Mr. Long had opened an 11 p.m. newscast with the dramatic report: “Frances Gumm is dead.” That was Judy Garland’s real name.

Paul Long was Channel 4 news anchor from 1969 to 1994. (WTAE photo)

Mr. Long’s first words to Cannon earlier that day had been: “You’re the guy from Chicago with the hair.” It was the beginning of a fruitful friendship and working relationship, dramatized in a memorable set of 1980s commercials in which one anchor stumbled and sent an arc of coffee flying through the air — and the other caught it in his cup without looking up from his work.

John Conomikes was the WTAE general manager who hired Mr. Long and, a few months later, lured DeNardo away from KDKA. He paid Mr. Long not to work for six months to sit out a noncompete clause in his KDKA contract. A few months after Mr. Long and DeNardo were on the air at Channel 4, Cannon joined them.

Conomikes said hiring Mr. Long put Channel 4 on the map.

“It gave us instant credibility overnight and our ratings went up 75 or 80 percent,” Conomikes said. “Paul Long was an icon [in Pittsburgh]. Back then he was better known for radio than television, but if anyone was going to challenge Bill Burns, it was Paul and Joe DeNardo.”

Mr. Long’s prowess — and mishaps — as a pilot were almost as legendary.

In April 1962, Mr. Long and two passengers walked away from the crash landing of a light plane in Westmoreland County. Mr. Long was piloting the Cessna 180, which came to a halt 15 feet from a house in North Huntingdon.

He had been returning from broadcasting the Pirates-New York Mets baseball game at the Polo Grounds. According to a possibly apocryphal account, Mr. Long got out of the plane, walked to the front door and introduced himself to the woman who answered.

“Madam, my name is Paul Long, may I use your telephone?” he asked.

“No, you can’t,” the woman replied. “And besides, I watch Bill Burns.”

At the time, Mr. Long said the accident wouldn’t stop him from climbing into the cockpit again.

He would often call DeNardo at the station before flying to get a weather report. But he wouldn’t accept the recommendations, just the information.

“He’d say, ‘Mr. DeNardo, I’m the pilot, you are the meteorologist. You tell me what the weather is. I will make the decision whether I fly or not,'” DeNardo remembered.

DeNardo worked alongside Mr. Long from 1960, when both appeared on KDKA-TV, until Mr. Long’s retirement. He had visited Mr. Long weekly since learning of his move to a nursing home in early November.

“Paul was my mentor when it came to what to do with respect to television and the scales and salaries and the chain of command,” DeNardo said. “He taught me everything. He was a continuous and ultimate professional. He would not lower his standards. He’d get into some [hellish] arguments to prove a point.”

Serious-sounding though he was, Mr. Long was a good sport when it came to his friend’s practical jokes.

DeNardo recalled Mr. Long’s penchant for leaving his keys in his car. One night, after Mr. Long had returned from dinner to prepare for the late news, DeNardo climbed into Mr. Long’s car and moved it to an upper parking lot.

After the 11 p.m. news, DeNardo exited the WTAE building to find Mr. Long.

“I’m looking for my goddamned car,” Mr. Long said.

“Well, you leave the keys in it all the time. It had to happen sooner or later,” DeNardo replied, before suggesting Mr. Long search the lower parking lot. While Mr. Long looked there, DeNardo raced to the upper parking lot and moved Mr. Long’s car back to where the anchor had parked it.

“He came back up, said, ‘I’ll be a son-of-a-…,’ and drove right off,” DeNardo recalled.

When anchor Sally Wiggin arrived at WTAE in 1981 from a station in Birmingham, Ala., she had an image of how anchors were supposed to look.

“Don looked like that. Paul did not, but he had a voice like an anchor,” Wiggin said. “Paul didn’t speak, he intoned and made pronouncements, and there was something lovable about it. He had this marvelous laugh.”

Although Wiggin never had a permanent seat next to Mr. Long at the anchor desk, she did fill-in work alongside him.

“Paul savored the language,” she said. “He didn’t just read the news. It wasn’t this machine gun rat-a-tat-tat.”

Friends and colleagues all had favorite Paul Long memories, like the time he fell asleep on the bleachers used for Paul Shannon’s children’s show and the day he read a story that colleague Eleanor Schano wrote, stood up in the newsroom and crankily inquired, “What in the hell is a youth?”

DeNardo also remembered the anchor’s tendency to wear the same suit several days in a row.

“One day he was going to go to Denver for the weekend, and Don Cannon and I were talking to him and I said, ‘Are you going to wear that suit?’ [And] Cannon said, ‘You’ve had that one on for 10 days.’ And he replied, in his bell-like tone, ‘They don’t know that in Denver.'”

Mr. Long is survived by his wife, Elaine, whom he met while she was singing at KDKA as a member of the Kinder Sisters. Although her first glimpse of Mr. Long was of a rumpled, scowling, balding man, he straightened up, looked at the women and said, “Good evening, ladies.” That kindled her attraction. Until recent health setbacks, the couple lived in Thornburg.

Mr. Long also is survived by a son, Chris of Baltimore, and a daughter, Holly Van Dine of Point Breeze.


Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections
Copyright ©1997-2018 PG Publishin






















Paul Long-Pittsburgh News Man-Part I

It was a tossup on KDKA concerning Bill Burns and Paul Long over who was the better newsman.  Both men were on KDKA at the beginning of television and on the expansion of radio broadcasting.  Burns and Long shared a passion for the news in straight reporting, traveling around the metropolitan area to where an event took place, or on the panel for the Sunday Afternoon news show.  I remember the Pennsylvania News Conference which had reporters from both KYW Philadelphia and KDKA Pittsburgh interview some VIP.  Until 1994, the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company owned both stations.

While both newsman were excellent, their styles and physical appearance were very different.   Never ostentatious, Burns was one of the best dressed personalities in the city.  Bill Burns was handsome and marvelously photogenic. Paul Long, an the other hand, wore suits straight out of Robert Hall.  His jackets had smoke holes in them and were either grey or black.   There was no imagination at all to his dress.  Paul Long was bald with the usual hair on the side.  His nose came to a point and there was a scar on the ride side of his face.

What Paul Long had though was a beautiful flowing baritone voice.  Long frequently extended the last word of a sentence for emphasis; and you not likely to forget what he said.  One area newsman called Paul Long the “Voice of God”. While Burns was only on television, Paul Long was on radio and TV.

On radio:

–Long was the anchorman for the  one hour news broadcast 60 to 6, Monday through Saturday.  This was the best news program in the city. Many preferred this to television.  Paul Long on various times did the hourly five minute news breaks.

–A fixture for me was the Sunday News at Noon.  It was good hearing this quarter-hour summary of news before listening to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Steelers.   Paul Long plugged in commercials beautifully.  With your “….steammm iron use steammm aide.”

However, the Jones Brewing Company of Smithtown, Pa, brewers of Stoney’s Beer, was the best sponsor for the Sunday News at Noon.  There’s allot in a name sometimes even if it’s very common.  Shirley Jones owned the now defunct  Jones Brewing Company.  Their song went as follows:

Roll out  Stoney’s, fetch me my beer, pour out the Stoney’s, that’s why I’m here.  After the corny song,  Paul Long delivered the best line ever for any beer.  “Order Stoney’s from your favorite beer distributor.  And if he doesn’t have Stoney’s, how come he’s your favorite? “

On television:

–Paul Long and Tom Bender had supporting roles for Bill Burns for the 11:00 news Monday through Friday. Burns had the center stage reporting the news with the other two giving good support.  At the end of the news, Burns stated “Good Night, Good Luck, and Good News Tomorrow.”

–Each Sunday at 6:30, Channel 2 telecasted “Three Star News”.  Al McDowell reported the News.  Paul Long showed  how a specific news story might effect you.  Long relished this type of reporting.  It called for in depth analysis of the news.  He seemed able to relate the news to various levels of academic  study.  That was his gift.  TBC





Some New Look at 2017

There is almost nothing to complain about in the Eagles Post Season last year.  So I will try to offer something to think about.

Most fans wanted the NFC Title Game over quickly after the two minute warning. Coach Doug Pederson  put Nate Sudfelt in at Quarterback who knelt after getting the snaps from center to end the game.  I will say again that the Eagles missed a chance to give young Sudfelt some needed experience .  No one can accuse the Eagles of running up the score as long as our guys do it using the second or third string.

A few years ago a reporter used the term Pete’s Parody.  This referred to the late Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s efforts to keep the overall talent in teams closer though certainly not equal.  The games would be closer with fans less likely to turn the game off.   There will be more pacing the floors and yelling at the television.  I prefer to win by a big margin.

There are ways to minimize the differences in teams and to make it more difficult for the same teams to get to the Super Bowl and  Conference Title games every year.  This has been in practice for many years.  Nevertheless it has not hampered teams like the New England Patriots and in past years with the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, and the San Francisco 49ers

1} The draft from college players has the worst team picking first and Super Bowl winner last.

2} Teams from one division in one conference play the same team from one division the other conference.  I think you will find an example shows this better than an explanation.  e.g. Last year everyone in the NFC East played one game against teams from the AFC West. Each team has 4 games here.  This does not favor a mediocre team over a good or great team.

3} Each team has two games against teams within their division.  Each team has 6 games here. This does not favor a mediocre team over a good or great team.

4} This is the clincher and is difficult to calculate.  The worst teams play each other and the best teams play each other.  Each team has 6 games.   This favors a mediocre team over a good or great team.

Here is the issue.  With parity there is almost no chance to play the reserves in any consistent way.   We all remember the Miracle of the Meadowlands in 2010.  With seven minutes remaining Philadelphia was behind New York Giants 31 to 10.  Fans were looking for the Giants to pull the first string but the Eagles scored four touchdowns to win 38 to 31.  Coaches will remember this game just like the Herman Edwards fumble return

Coaches should pull the first string when it is almost impossible to lose; and let the second team try to move the ball and score.  Make the most of any opportunity that will pay off in the future.



All Body Parts Are Connected

Injuries to one part of the body generally cause weakness to another.  This can be either in a specific organ or to the body as a whole.  The human body has all parts interconnected.   As an impressionable 13 year old,  I realized this in the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.   This involved a great pitcher and a third string catcher who was in only 22 games. This catcher was great on defense but an automatic out when he came to the plate.

In 1960 Vernon Law had a 20-9 record; received the Cy Young award; started the 1960 All Star Game;  pitched three perfect innings; and was the winning pitcher.  His year in 1960, together with an 18-9 mark in 1959, firmly established Law as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  Pittsburgh had  two four game losing streaks in 1960.  On both occasions,  it was Law who snapped them.  He made sure that losing did not mean a collapse.

The catcher, Bob Oldis, had a value that went beyond measurement.  He was the court jester who kept the team loose.  A prankster with a purpose, Oldis wanted the team to win as much as any other player.  At same time,  he knew that  players  seldom perform well tightly tying themselves in knots.  Some tension is desirable as teams compete to win games.  The Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960 won the World Series 4 games to 3.  That year Bob Oldis, through the strength of his personality, help loosen tension whenever it was required.


However, at year end Bob Oldis let his antics get out of hand.  On the next to last weekend of the season, the Pirates lost to the Milwaukee Braves.  This was on a Sunday,  the last game of a three game set.  On the same day, the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field defeated the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched first place in the National League.

There was a wild and raucous time on the airplane from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh.  The the team really cut loose. Vernon was an ordained minister of the Mormon Church.  While  never pompous or self righteous, Law was not given to any wild celebrations.  Nevertheless, Bob Oldis did not let Law alone.  He foolishly grabbed Law’s foot and twisted his legs, back, and arms. Law started three games in the World Series, winning two and going six innings in the final game.  Law favored his left leg while pitching.  This put undo pressure on his right arm.  Vernon  tore and pulled his muscles.  The right arm though was the key.

Vernon was in and out of the pitching rotation over the next four years.  He was a courageous and determined athlete.   Late in 1964, Law began showing flashes of brilliance that reminded older fans of his Cy Young year in 1960.  Everything finally paid off in the streaky season of 1965.   He won the Comeback of the Year Award despite some early problems.  Lost the first five decisions 0-5; won eight in a row 8-5;  lost four in a row 8-9; won nine in a row 17-9.

That was a up and down but still great season.  It reminded me of an electrocardiogram.   His season showed his efforts over the years over really paid off.  Nevertheless,  that airplane injury may have cost him a place the The Baseball Hall of Fame.




Need Steelers Game at New York Giants in 1964

A while back I was looking for two victories in 1964 that were big in the history of Pittsburgh Steelers. Both games were on the road.  I have the first one.

Game 5  With the Cleveland Browns that the Steelers  won 23 to 7.  John Henry Johnson carried 30 times for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 33, 45, and 4 yards.   This was the biggest games in this HOF player’s careers; it was a then Steeler record; and the season’s best performance.  Clarence Peaks also carried 21 times for 97 yards.  Quarterback Ed Brown completed 9 of 11 passes for 126 yards, without a touchdown or interception.

Game 11 With the New York Giants that the Steelers won 44 to 17.  Once again the big three rose up with help from receiver Gary Ballman.  This was Buddy Parker’s highest point total in his eight years as the Steelers’ coach.  At that time, it was the third highest score in team history.  John Henry Johnson gained 106 yards in 25 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of ten and two yards.  Charence Peaks carried 15 times for 97 yards and caught  41 yard pass.

Ed Brown, playing only three quarters, went 10 for 13 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. When he left the score was 37 to 3. Gary Ballman caught five passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.  Reserve Quarterback Tommy Wade fired a 78 yard touchdown pass to Dick Hoak.  However, the Steelers went in motion negating the play.  The Steeler had to punt.  A bad snap to punter Ed Holler flew into the End Zone.  Erich Barnes, a great special teams player, recovered it for a touchdown.


Late Game Substitution, Special Teams Play, and a Big Victory

At the end of the half and the game, the quarterback often kneels after getting the snap from center.  This of course is to run out the clock without losing a fumble.   We all remember the Miracle at the Meadow Lands in 1978 between the Eagles and the New York Giants.   With 30 seconds left in the game, there was the muffed hand off between Joe Pisarcik  and Larry Csonka.  Herman Edwards picked up the loose football and returned it for a touchdown.  A 17 to 12 loss turned into a 19 to 17 victory.

From this play, running backs and wide receivers now circle around the quarterback in the event of a fumble.  Teams  will not take chances.  Now let’s go further and review a game back in 2010 at the Meadow Lands.  Eli Manning just threw a touchdown pass to Kevin Boss.  There were seven minutes left in the game with the Giants leading the Philadelphia Eagles  31 to 10.  New York fans were confident of a victory.  The second string was about to play avoiding injury to the starters and giving these reserves some much needed experience.

Merrill Reese was always optimistic except when the Eagles needed a miracle or at least a near miracle.  He was going into the messy business of what had to happen and who had to win or lose  for the Eagles to get into the playoffs .  Reese said there was almost no chance for the Eagles to win this game.  Of course getting into the playoffs was not enough.  We had to consider getting the BYE Week and the Home Field Advantage.  These possibilities made the whole business of coaching much more difficult.

We all know what happened.  With great offensive play, one critical sack on Eli Manning,  a fumble recovery by Reilly Cooper of an onside kick off, and a 65 yard punt return for a touchdown by Eli Manning the Eagles won 38 to 31.  Philadelphia scored four touchdowns in a seven minute span.








Duquesne Brewing Company-Have A Duke

Crossing  the Smithfield  Street Bridge in Pittsburgh to the South Side, we see a tremendous complex of dining, shopping, live entertainment, and education.  Known as Station Square,  it was the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Passenger Railroad  Station.   The station itself has the restaurant at two levels.  The old train sheds are specialty shops.  There is an exhibit of Pittsburgh’s Industrial Age.  At my last visit, there was a Sheraton Hotel.  Someday I hope we will see commuter trains in Pittsburgh to the Great Lakes.  They should never have stopped.


At one time in the South Side stood the  Duquesne Brewing Company.  The building itself is a rich collection of

Romanesque Revival and assorted designs from the late 19th to the Mid-20th Century.  The trademark for the Beer was a picture of a Duke holding up a Pilsner Glass of Beer.  On the top of the building was a clock with the words “HAVE A DUKE” around it.  Millions of people checked their watches every day with this clock.  It could be seen for miles.

Duquesne had a theme which provided music for a song or march.   Until 1962, Duquesne Beer sponsored the Pittsburgh Steelers on WWSW Radio and away games for CBS Channel 2.  As might be expected,  the march style began and  ended the broadcast.  Lyrics were the background for commercials during the game.

As written

Have a Duke, Have a Duke, Have a Duuuke.  Duquesne’s the Magic Million Beer,  a Million Barrels every year,  the certified proof of quality from the U.S Testing company,  have a Duke,  have a Duke,  have a Duke.  Have a Duke, have a Duke and you will see the reason for its pedigree,  bright and sparkling Duquesne’s first, preferred in every favored test, have a Duke,  have a Duke,  have a Duke.

I cannot remember the exact words from another lyric.  Brand B says ???????, Brand C says??????, that’s all you hear from year to year, confusing claims about their beer,  How do you know it’s the truth?,  Believe your taste, When choosing beer, Don’t be mislead by those confusing claims you hear,  Just taste Duquesne and you will see,  How great good tasting beer can be, Believe your taste and Have a Duke, have a Duke, have a Duke, have a Duke.

At intervals during a game,  the announcers just while  broadcasting Have a Duke the finest beer in town

In addition to Duquesne Beer, the Pilsner, the Duquesne Brewing Company had Silver Top its Lager Beer.  As might be expected Silver Top was to provide variety and never matched Duquesne in sales.  It did provide a balance to its major competitor  in Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.   This brewery did things in reverse.  Let me spell this out to avoid confusion.

Duquesne Brewing Company-Primary Brew was Duquesne Pilsner and the Secondary was Silver Top Lager.  Pittsburgh Brewing Company-Primary Brew was Iron City Lager and the Secondary was Tech Premium Pilsner.

After Carling became Steelers’ beer in 1962, the Duquesne Company changed their marketing techniques.  The title was simply DUKE beer.  I cannot remember the exact words.  They said you will like the bold flavor of DUKE beer. Where tastes run strong, make it DUKE.   The company abandon its royalty image for something more blue collar.  The pictures were different showing rodeo cowboys, miners, steel workers, or truck drivers.

When the Duquesne Brewing Company folded in 1972,  C. Schmidt’s and Sons bought and packaged DUKE beer at its Cleveland Branch not its headquarters in Philadelphia.  The Duquesne plant on the South Side became a meeting for artists and writers.