70th Anniversary Moments – Randy Cosgrove

This year commemorates the 70th anniversary of when Beaver County’s first radio station, WBVP, was heard over the airwaves for the the first time on May 25, 1948.  To mark the historical event, each week, another “70th Anniversary Moment” will be showcased on the airwaves and published on the station’s online feeds.

Randy Cosgrove on WMBA in 1992. Courtesy of Dr. Michael Sisk.

“Let me tell you, young Mr. Cosgrove, when you are up on the roof of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, you must never pee into the wind”.  Those were the words of legendary Steelers’ broadcaster, Myron Cope,  during halftime of a Steelers – Browns game out on the roof top of the old, long gone stadium sometime during the 1990’s, as spoken to and recalled recently by Randy Cosgrove.  The old Cleveland Municipal stadium, according to Randy Cosgrove, didn’t have any bathrooms that were close enough to the press box for the reporters to be able to use and then get back to their game coverage duties before the break was over, so outhouses were placed on the roof of the ancient facility to accommodate the broadcasters and journalists working in the press box.  It seemed, however that on one very windy day along the Lake Erie shoreline, when Cosgrove traversed up to the roof to use the facilities during halftime, The outhouse was already in use, and to top that off, Myron Cope was relieving himself right out in the open.  It was probably no big deal when you think about it. The roof would certainly have been water proof, nobody would have seen it, Myron needed to pee, and fellow Steelers announcer, Bill Hillgrove was probably getting impatient waiting for Cope’s  return to the play by play broadcast that day,  so Cope had to do what he had to do.  However, the story became legendary when Cope zipped up his pants, buttoned up his overcoat and turned around to  face Cogrove as he was heading back to the stairs.  Evidently a very strong, south westerly wind off of Lake Erie that day had blown most, if not all, of what was meant for the roof surface back on Cope’s clothing, nearly soaking parts of it.  Thus, the perspective of Cope’s quote earlier.  Cosgrove loved to tell that story.  He could imitate Myron Cope’s raspy unique sounding voice almost perfectly.  Cosgrove had a way with words. He could tell stories and hold an audience as good as anybody.  Randy Cosgrove, at that point in time, was working for the Pittsburgh Steelers as their public address announcer.   On Tuesday, December 4th, the wonderful stories and captivating dialogue from Cosgrove were muted, to use a broadcast term, for good as he passed away at age 67 in a Pittsburgh hospital.

In  addition to being able to describe the action on the field with great skill, Randy Cosgrove was a talented player as well, excelling in both basketball and baseball.  He was inducted into the Plum High School Sports hall of fame, and played both sports, including earning four letters in baseball, while attending Ashland University in Ohio.  Randy’s life would continue to revolve around athletics after graduating from Ashland in 1973.  He found work as the the sports information director at Robert Morris University and later on became the Athletic Director at North Hills High School.

Randy Cosgrove, Bob frynkewicz (Fry) and Dave Justice at a WMBA event in 1996. Courtesy of Bob Frynkewicz.

In the late 1980’s, Donn Wuycik was committed to finding and recruiting the best talent for his newly acquired radio station, WMBA in Ambridge.   Wuycik brought Randy Cosgrove aboard to fortify a strong stable of sports announcers that that also included Rob Matzie, Mike Vukovcan, Bob Pompeani, Mark Trombo, Tom Trkula, Bob Milhalik and even Aliquippa head football coach, Don Yanessa,  during that era.  The huge recruiting effort was put in place to accommodate the fact that WMBA was now poised to have a bigger impact than ever, as the station had recently been approved to broadcast 24 hours a day, and no longer was restricted to only carrying live high school sports broadcasts that occurred during the day time hours.  Randy Cosgrove was a key part to the success that WMBA experienced after expanding its coverage to twenty four hours a day.  Cosgrove would settle in on the sidelines  and don a broadcaster’s headset and describe the action from numerous area high school football and basketball games on the evenings and weekends.  In addition to that, he also co hosted a weekend sports talk show  called “More Sports”, and later on, anchored a daily afternoon sports talk show initially called “The Early Line” and later on referred to as “Talkin’ Sports” on WMBA.  Not many people, other than Cosgrove, could have filled the airwaves with enough, interesting information to sustain nearly twenty hours of sports oriented broadcasts every week, but he made it seem effortless. His shows were always well prepared and fun to listen to.

Randy Cosgrove and Jimi Miller broadcast live during Nationality Days on Merchant street in Ambridge on WMBA around 1989. Courtesy of Mike Romigh.

It was more than just sports for Randy Cosgrove.  He had talented writing and reporting skills, and in 1994, was part of a group of WMBA staffers that received a Golden Quill award for coverage that the station provided regarding the crash of USAir flight 427 in Hopewell Township.  He also found time to hit the streets and help sell adverting for WMBA in his first tour of duty, which lasted until 1998, and again during his encore performance with WBVP and WMBA in 2014 and 2015.

In between the two eras when he worked at WBVP and WMBA, Randy Cosgrove was still close to the sports action and enhanced the sports experience with his talents, as he always did on the airwaves, when he served as The Athletic Director for Ambridge Area High School, a post he held from 1998 through 2012.

NFL Hall of Famer, and Beaver falls native, Joe Namath, talks to Randy Cosgrove at a 2014 live broadcast on WBVP and WMBA at the Beaver Falls Elks Club.

In a sales meeting at WBVP and WMBA in 2014, Randy Cosgrove pitched station management on the idea of starting a sports talk show that would air on Saturday mornings .  Cosgrove knew how to sell and said he said those magic words that all radio station mangers love to hear:  “I’ll find a sponsor for the show”.   After hearing that,  It was no surprise that the deal was sealed with station brass, and Cosgrove had permission to see his idea through.  Probably only about 45 minutes after presenting the idea to radio station officials and getting the green light to proceed, the ever ambitious Cosgrove was out in Chippewa Township, PA proposing a sponsorship of his new forthcoming show to Sal’s Ristorante and Bar.  Nobody could say no to the level of passion Randy brought to the table, and by about the time that he had finished his spaghetti and meatballs that day, he had the show sold and ready to go on the air.  Cosgrove’s incarnation, and his lasting legacy at WBVP and WMBA, “The Saturday Sports Slam”,  was born.  Initially the show was co hosted by Cosgrove and current Beaver County Radio Program Director, Frank Sparks.  It continues to air on Saturday Mornings  from 8 until 10 A.M. with Matt Drzik and Greg Benedetti sitting behind the microphone.

Visitation for Randy Cosgrove will be on Friday December 7th from 2 until 4 and 7 until 9. at the Copeland Funeral Home in Coraopolis.  Visitation will also take place at the Coraopolis United Methodist Church form 1 until  2 P.M.  on Saturday, December 8th.

70th Anniversary Moments” is presented by  Abbey Carpet and Floor,  Albert’s Heating, Cooling and Plumbing,  Aliquippa Giant Eagle, The Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, Beaver Valley Auto Mall, Beaver Valley Sheet Metal, Castlebrook Development, The Community College Of Beaver County,  Farmers Building and Savings Bank, Freedom United Federal Credit Union, Hank’s Frozen Custard and Mexican food, The Health Huts, Kitchen City, Laughlin Insurance Agency,  Rochester Manor and Villa and Young’s Jewelry and Coins.