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.
–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? “
–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