By Glen Macnow
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- The first time I met Stan Hochman, he was taking Norman Braman to task at a news conference. I had been in town just a week, writing sports for the Inquirer. I had heard Philly had a tough sports media, but I hadn't witnessed it – until I watched Stan come right at the guy he nicknamed "Bottom Line Braman" with tough, but legit, questions about Braman's cheapskate ownership.
Braman tried to dance, but Stan wasn't intimidated by the rich guy used to getting his own way. Stan was a bulldog.
And he got the best story.
He wrote that story for the Daily News which, at the time, had one of the deepest casts of sports writers in America. People who read that paper in the 1980s and 90s were privileged.
Sports journalism is now all about being multi-media, but Stan did it decades before anyone else. Back in the 60s, he was hosting sports on TV, reporting on radio and writing five newspaper columns a week. And he excelled at each. That gravelly voice and New York accent didn't seem a natural for broadcasting, but Stan's words were so perfect, his delivery so mannered, that you'd listen to everything he had to say.
Media is a business where the tendency, as you age, is to grow melancholy. There's always change, and it usually leaves the veterans behind. But not Stan. He evolved with the times, embracing sports-talk radio when many of newspaper guys just viewed it as pablum. When I produced the old "Great Sports Debates," Stan was our first go-to fill-in because, while he was 25 years older than the rest of us, he was a lively and funny as anyone. And, man, could he tell a story.
Imagine that until a month or so ago, Stan was still starring as the "Grand Imperial Poobah" on the WIP morning show. Like most people, I'd plan my Thursday mornings around making sure not to miss it.
Stan had a crustiness to him. He didn't suffer fools well and hated a phony. He could sniff it out, and put it down in ink in a matter that would eviscerate the frauds and the powerful. It's why people like Braman despised him.
On the other side Stan loved the underdog, and would write it well enough to make you cry. He loved campaigns – like trying to get Richie Allen into the Hall of fame. He wasn't a writer who stopped by for a story, he lived out issues he genuinely cared about.
And away from the computer? He adored his family – his daughter, Andee and her partner. Last time I saw Stan, over the winter at Troncelliti's Barber Shop in Wynnewood, he was bragging how smart his granddaughter is. And his relationship with his wife, Gloria, was a model for everyone. There was a WIP holiday party once, where all the big-ego hosts were too embarrassed to get up to dance. Here comes Stan and his wife, Gloria, years of Arthur Murray lessons behind them, and they cleared the floor like Rogers and Astaire. It was a thing of grace and beauty -- and love.
We've lost too many real giants in my business in a short time -- Tom Brookshier, Bill Campbell, and now Stan. Great men. Builders, innovators.
Stan may have stood about 5-foot-8, but, like the others, he was a giant of a man.
for more features.