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Jack Bogut, Pittsburgh Radio

October 30, 2011

Jack Bogut:

Can you give readers a quick idea on how you decided to enter into broadcasting and what made you decide to pursue this career – and how you landed in Pittsburgh in 1968?

A friend got a job at a brand new radio station in Dillon,Montana and when I heard his voice coming out of the radio in my Mom’s car, I wanted some of that fame for my self. (The whole story is contained in track #2 of my storytelling CD, “Mental Movies” entitled – “Failing Your Way to Success.”)

While working at KCAP in Salt Lake City, I was asked to do a pro bono recorded presentation sampling all the radio stations in the market for The National Association of Broadcasters convention being held in our city. It was heard by the National Program Manager for Westinghouse Broadcasting who stayed in town to listen to my show and ultimately offered me a job at KDKA.

 What have been the favorite – and least favorite – parts of the job?

Favorite: the chance to be accepted by a large audience, useful to the community, have fun, and get paid for it.

Least favorite – Negotiating contract renewals.

You’ve been in the broadcasting business for over 50 years now – how has the business changed over the years – and has it been for the better?

The number of radio stations competing for listeners is much greater today, to the extent that we all “narrowcast” to a specific age and gender niche instead of “broadcast” to a general audience of men, women and children of all ages. We were also encouraged to be personalities on the air and develop a personal relationship with the audience.

It is the nature of things to change so radio is no better or worse than it was, just different.

You’re so well-known for your on-air storytelling. How did that begin for you – and how hard is it to come up with so many new story ideas?

Listening to music always creates mental images for me. Playing that music on the air and extemporaneously verbalizing what I see or feel over it became a form of word jazz I called “Home Movies (or videos) on Radio.” Sometimes I would have an ending in mind and make up a story to fit, or have a beginning in mind and have to find a way to end it before the music ran out.

It was a little scary but great fun to do.

Is oral storytelling becoming a “lost art”?

I think people are becoming reluctant to tell stories because of the need to be politically correct. Society has become very territorial about individual space and rights and seems to look for ways to be offended. A wise person once said that adversity brings us together; prosperity pushes us apart. What happened on 9/11 is a good case in point.

What sports and teams have you enjoyed most – and why?

I have long been a fan of The Steelers, The Pirates, and The Penguins. All of these teams are metaphors for the rest of us. When they work totally together as with no thought about individual achievements, they are unbeatable. When they don’t, individual players still shine but other teams can win.

Who have been some of the most enjoyable athletes and coaches you’ve met – and what made them so?

Steve Blass, Dave Guisti, Kent Tekulve, Chuck Tanner, Dan Rooney, Chuck Noll, Andy Russell, Jack Ham, Mike Wagner, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Mel Blount; all were great leaders and team players first, and individual stars, second. They were also outstanding members of the community with their support of local charities and organizations.

What have you experienced that you think would surprise fans most about Pittsburgh and/or any of it sports teams?

When it comes to giving, Pittsburgh is one of the most generous communities per capita in America.

Any last thoughts for fans?

All of the athletes and owners I have met and known say essentially the same thing. “Fan support can be the difference between a championship and “almost…”

Go Steelers! Come back Pirates! Thank you, Mario! And return safely, Sid!

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