Behind the Yoi

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Behind the Yoi

The Life of Myron Cope, Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers Broadcaster

Dan Joseph with Elizabeth Cope

360 pages
20 photographs, 1 appendix, index

Hardcover

September 2024

978-1-4962-3763-7

$34.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Myron Cope was the color commentator for Pittsburgh Steelers radio broadcasts from 1970 to 2005, the second-longest-serving team broadcaster in NFL history. At the peak of his popularity, an estimated 50 percent of Steeler fans turned down the volume on their TVs so they could listen to the radio as Cope, in his one-of-a-kind scratchy, raspy voice, barked out phrases like “Yoi” and “Okle-dokle,” often fueled by bursts of excitability and his own beautiful brand of homerism. About his voice, Cope said, “Mine isn’t a broadcaster’s voice; it tends to cut through concrete.” Cope helped forge the unbreakable bond between the city of Pittsburgh and its football team. His evening talk show, one of the first sports talk programs in the nation, dominated its time slot for more than twenty years, and he became the first pro football announcer elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Born in Pittsburgh to parents of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, Cope attended the University of Pittsburgh and became a journalist. Though he forged a successful career writing for magazines like Sports Illustrated, football fans grew to know Cope far more through the airwaves. Co-namer of the Immaculate Reception, he also created the Terrible Towel, the flag of Steelers Nation, when in 1975 he urged fans to bring gold towels to wave at a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts. Behind the scenes the Terrible Towel took on a deeper personal meaning, as Cope eventually assigned all royalties from the towels to the facility where his son, who was born with brain damage and never learned to speak, still resides. Throughout his life Cope, who passed away in 2008, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children with disabilities.

Using Cope’s own papers, correspondence, and tapes, plus interviews with friends and family, Dan Joseph and Elizabeth Cope, Myron’s daughter, paint the first three-dimensional portrait of the creative, many-faceted man whom Pittsburghers still hold in high esteem and close to their hearts.
 

Author Bio

Dan Joseph, a Pittsburgh native, has worked for more than twenty years as an editor in Voice of America’s central newsroom. He is the author of several books, including Baseball’s Greatest What If: The Story and Tragedy of Pistol Pete Reiser and Last Ride of the Iron Horse: How Lou Gehrig Fought ALS to Play One Final Championship Season. Elizabeth Cope has a master’s degree in speech pathology and is involved in charity work for people with physical and mental disabilities. She is the vice president of the Family Group at the Merakey Allegheny Valley School and resides in Pittsburgh.
 

Praise

“Myron Cope was far more than a broadcaster; he was a founding father of Steelers Nation. Nobody could whip up excitement among the fans like him. Nobody else could’ve made the Terrible Towel into the icon it’s become. Dan Joseph and Elizabeth Cope’s biography captures the Myron I knew and then some. I was his friend for forty years, and I learned new things about him from just reading a couple of chapters. This is great stuff!”—Bill Hillgrove, Steelers play-by-play announcer, 1994–2024

“If you are of a certain age, and happen to be from Pittsburgh, and the name Myron Cope is mentioned, all of sudden there is a flood of unforgettable memories that pop into your mind. With his high-pitched voice with an alien-like vocabulary that can only be described as ‘Pittburghese,’ Cope caught the imagination of his listeners. Through his voice we the players—the focus of his attention—became household names to a fan base that never missed a game. No matter where his fans were, they would have a radio in one hand, a Terrible Towel in the other, and would always be listening to the one and only Myron Cope. We were so fortunate to have him be part of our lives. I am proud to call him a friend.”—Rocky Bleier, running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, 1968–80

“Myron Cope was uniquely Pittsburgh, and uniquely himself. There was nobody like Cope when I came to Pittsburgh as a fifth-round draft pick by the Steelers in 1980, and there’s still nobody whose media star shines brighter to this day. . . . From his wildly popular sports talk radio show to providing color commentary on the Steeler games to his postgame wrap-up ‘Cope’s Cabana,’ Cope’s ability to tell a tale, entertain an audience, and provide commentary in any setting was legendary. He truly was one of a kind. And I’m grateful for the time I got to work with him.”—Craig Wolfley, offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, 1980–89, and current Steelers radio color analyst

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
A Few Words of Thanks
Prologue: Original Passion
1. Sports Nut in Squirrel Hill
2. “An Industrious Young Journalistic Prospect”
3. The Nut Specialist
4. A Trend toward Obnoxious Voices
5. Into the Steelers’ Booth
6. Gorillas, Franco, and Frank
7. Great Name for a Kosher Play
8. Growing Up Cope
9. The Lines Are Open
10. Super-Steelers Years
11. Enter the Towel
12. The Eighties
13. Myron the Contrarian
14. Rolling with the Nineties
15. The Towel Returns
16. That Terrible Towel
17. “I’m Done”
18. Thankful
19. Bye Now
Afterword: Honored
Appendix: Cope’s Catalog
Index

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