2007 .. The Stories I Remember

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe another 365 days have come and gone … and there have been many moments worth remembering. I thought I would share with you my view of 2007 from the point of view of the stories that I covered. Stories that stuck with me.

Steelers Like Mike .. and so did I

I usually do not brag, but I’m going to pound my chest one final time. I can since I was the “only” member to the Pittsburgh media (sports or otherwise) to predict Mike Tomlin would be the next Steelers head coach when the team narrowed its focus to four candidates. I did it right here on this blog … and I felt hiring Tomlin was a no-brainer. He was Bill Cowher 15 years earlier. I knew he would be a good fit – and after meeting him and seeing him go 10-6 in his first season – I’m even more sure.

A Phone Bill Becomes a Blogosphere Hit
A simple write-up in the USA Today one summer morning turned it a story idea. A young Pittsburgh woman named Justine Ezarik received a 300-page iPhone bill — and did a video blog about the waste of paper. I tracked her down and interviewed her. What started as a local interview became an Internet hit .. with my one-on-one discussion with her being viewed over 2 million times on YouTube alone. She has gone on to become an Internet star .. and my interview became the most viewed in the history of our website.

Behind the Scenes with the Candidates
I always wondered how candidates get ready for these televised debates. The question became the foundation for a story … and thanks to the willingness of both camps, I was able to spend time behind-the-scenes with mayor Luke Ravenstahl and republican challenger Mark DeSantis. While I have been openly critical of the mayor at times, I was blown away by his pre-debate preparation which did not involve mock debates. He simply sat down and reviewed bullet points. In the end, his performance did enough to convince voters he should be mayor.

Changes at Channel 4
It’s the story behind the scenes. When people you work with move on … and other take their place. Of course, we will miss meteorologist Don Schwenneker. “Big Weather” will be a big hit in the Windy City. On the morning show, we said goodbye to executive producer Dana Brown – a young woman of fantastic talent who is well on her way to becoming a network producer. This fall, she left for our DC bureau. Her replacement, Jennifer Sloan, has not missed a beat. She brings the same kind of enthusiasm Dana did – but with a fresh perspective. It’s why our morning newscast was #1 from the start of the year through to New Year’s Eve.

Robin Roberts Battles Breast Cancer
We have never met face to face, but we spend almost every morning talking for at least a couple of minutes. Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America” – and her daily chats with Kelly and I – have become one of the popular parts of our program. That’s why we were so stunned when she told us one morning she had breast cancer. However, the honestly and frankness she displayed during her diagnosis has served her well during her treatment. She is an inspiration to all of us and we pray for her – and the millions of women who bravely battle this deadly disease.

The Trouble with Turf

I knew it was bad while I was reporting live from Heinz Field before the Steelers-Dolphins game that Monday night. Feeling my feet sink into the newly-sodded turf at the stadium. The rain didn’t help. What followed was a quagmire of indescribable proportions – and suddenly I was doing story on the turf at Heinz Field. Please – for the love of football – some install field turf next season and let’s stop talking about turf.

The Pierogie Race

Look at the Pierogies in costume. Look familiar? I don’t blame you if you could not guess the Fab Four was myself, Kelly, Demetrius and Melanie. We came up with the idea of putting on the costumes and taking part in the traditional race at PNC Park. The best part? No one knew we were under those costumes – a fact that hit home when someone heckled me for not winning the race and I could not say a word. By the way, we let Melanie win.

Have a Happy New Year .. and I will talk to you all next year.

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