Arrived in Pittsburgh at age 28 and still going strong
Stan Savran entered this world as Stanley George Savransky on Feb. 25, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, that Cleveland, Ohio.
The broadcasting icon worked for the old KBL, then Fox Sports Pittsburgh, hosted “Sportsbeat” with Guy Junker for over 17 years…who can forget, “Stan, Guy, Love the Show!” When the show was canceled in 2009, it went down as the longest running sports show in Pittsburgh television history.
But the beat never stops for Savran. He remains on television in a number of capacities, hosting the Mike Tomlin Press Conference, the Mike Tomlin Show, and airs his opinions each weekday from noon to 2 p.m. on ESPN Pittsburgh (970-AM).
Prior to writing this story, the first thing that hit me was that he was born and raised in…Cleveland. One of Pittsburgh’s most despised and passionate rivals, though I believe Baltimore is the team and city we here hate the most these days.
After a hearty laugh about that tidbit of sports history, Stan told me, “When I came out of college, I had worked in a few different places. I worked in places such as Willoughby, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland not too far from where I grew up. Even though I was young, at that point I’d also had a pretty extensive career. I did Ohio State University football play-by-play when I was 24. I worked in Oklahoma for a year and a half and I worked in Orlando for three years. Even though those jobs didn’t pay a lot, they were good for me developmentally. For example, take Oklahoma. I had to do disc jockey work, I had to sell advertising, I had to read the news and I had to do sports, high school football and basketball play-by-play. I even did some baseball. This was not during the depression, this was in 1969. When I worked in Willoughby, I made $70 a week. When I went to Oklahoma, I made $100 a week.
“After I arrived in Orlando, I was looking to make a move up. There used to be a magazine called ‘Broadcasting Magazine.’ It had all kinds of industry articles and news and in the back of the magazine there was a classified section. So if you were looking for a job in broadcasting and a television or a radio station was looking for someone you would go to that section. The magazine was published weekly and I used to get it every week. One week, I saw this ad about a job. You would send your resume to this blind (P.O.) box in (Washington) D.C. I also didn’t want my boss to know that I was looking for another job. The ad said, ‘Major Northeastern market looking for sports announcer/sports commentator, apply.’ So I sent in my resume and my tape and about two days later I heard back from the radio station, and I knew that they must have had interest or they would not have responded so quickly. Again, the ad just said ‘major Northeastern market’ and I never considered Pittsburgh because as far as I was concerned, Pittsburgh may have been major but it was not Northeastern.
Savran said to me, “Where is this? Philly, New York or Boston? So I was surprised when it was Pittsburgh only because of the geography. So the guy said, ‘We really liked your tape and we’d like to fly you up here for an interview,’ which they did the following week. After I arrived, I auditioned, they had me rewrite some copy and do a five minute sportscast as well, even though they already had my tape. I did that and I was there for two days and at the end of the second day the big boss called and said, ‘We really like your work we’d like to hire you.’”
So, at the age of 28, the journey train of Stanley George Savransky, which had begun in the Buckeye State, made a stop in Pittsburgh and has yet to pull out of the station.
When it comes to the internet’s production of current “major sports gurus” gaining fortunes and fame, most of the time with very little or no experience at all, Savran does not use or waste much energy criticizing or analyzing their methods or their craft.
“Well, I look at what the bloggers and writers do as different from what I do because they’re writers and I’m a broadcaster. Although I wrote for the Post-Gazette for 12 years, blogging is a different medium at a different time. FM radio was not that big a deal when I started out. There were only three channels on TV, maybe four if you included a UHF station near your town. Now if I can mix apples with apples, I think that there are a lot of kids who are coming out of college with broadcasting degrees (and it’s not all their fault) who have not paid any dues. I don’t think they’re prepared to work in a major market like this one.”
Savran continued, “Anyone can walk up to me and say, ‘I have a blog,’ but bloggers don’t have instant credibility. I mean, my grandma can blog but that doesn’t mean anything to me. If you’re good at it then by all means.”
Savran obviously pulled no punches. “Some of these kids come out of college and they major in being TV announcers. They major in being on TV, so when they get their first job, employers tell them, ‘Well, we are going to use you as a weatherman, or as a news reporter or a news anchor or a sports guy. I majored in sportscasting. I did other things but I learned my craft, first in radio and then in TV. These kids today are trained to be TV personalities, it doesn’t matter what particular job that they have, they’re just trained how to perform on television. People often ask me how long I have been preparing for this job. I say for over 65 years. When I was 4 years old, I was in love with sports. That’s all I would think about. (Along the way) I had to learn some of the stuff that you had to do to get on radio and TV but my sports broadcasting foundation was based on extreme interest, a lot of preparation and a serious work ethic. As far as my work ethic is concerned, no school could teach me that. I learned that from my parents.”
In next week’s July 19 edition, I’ll continue with Savran, including some comments from him you do not want to miss.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)
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