1957, WABC & Howard Cosell
1957 was an exciting time for me. I had been hired by WABC radio to write promotional material and every day was a new adventure.
I was living in Tudor City, which was located near the United Nations on 42nd Street. My place of business was on the opposite side of town at West 86th Street. This was a bit of a hike but I actually walked it many mornings. I would be dressed “to the nines” but wearing sneakers and carrying my “stilettos” in a shoulder bag! I would start out very early and loved to stop and buy breakfast at one of the open-air carts that dotted the streets. This would consist of two eggs on toast and a few sliced tomatoes.
The days at work were long and very tiring and I seldom walked home. Often I would share a cab with others who lived on the East side, or were taking a train home to the suburbs from Grand Central Station. One of the regulars who did this was a young man named Howard Cosell.
Howard worked on the “broadcasting” floor of our building so I never ran into him except on our rides to the East side. His demeanor was always extremely proper and I had no reason to believe that he would become one of the most controversial figures in the world of sports reporting.
The thing I remember most about Howard Cosell was his quiet and compelling voice. The nasal sound was there but I never heard the excited and almost-manic quality that were to become his particular trademark. I remember seeing the Woody Allen movie “Bananas” years later and being shocked at Howard’s part in it.
Howard loved music and especially opera. He never tired of telling us about the shows that he and his wife had seen. He would outline the plots of the operas and when and where they had been performed. He was a born teacher and we were avid students.
Howard Cosell was a sportscaster like no other. He has been revered and despised but he has never been forgotten. Rich Little still mimics his distinctive manner and voice and he is immediately recognized by an audience that never knew him in real life.
I don’t know if he changed as he became famous. Somehow, I doubt it. I prefer to believe that he was a man with strong opinions and loves and that he couldn’t attempt to please all the people all the time. He probably didn’t care to either.
Howard is many things to many people...but to me he will always be the gentleman who insisted on paying the cab-fare.