Feldman: Beloved Savran leaves show, memories for many

By Sergei Feldman

My first words weren’t, “Stan, Guy … love the show” — mostly because I couldn’t speak English at the time, but also because “mama” or “dada” were more readily accessible for my young tongue.

The catchphrase, popularized by the longest running sports talk show in Pittsburgh’s television history, “Sportsbeat” — hosted by Stan Savran — instead became my first realized sentiment and has now become but another pleasant memory.

The recent cancellation of the 18-year-old show represented more than simply another program biting the dust. It represented an unexpected finality to an unprecedented Pittsburgh sports relationship and left many Pittsburghers, transplanted or not, angered or otherwise frustrated.

Penn State University and Taylor Allderdice High School alumnus Shawn Graham was “shocked” to hear his “favorite Pittsburgh sports talk show” ended.

“I thought it was another move by [Fox Sports Network] that the fans wouldn’t agree with,” he said. “[Longtime Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play commentator] Mike Lange being the other.”

Liberty Sports Group, the media outlet that owns FSN Pittsburgh and the rights to the show, justified the decision by pointing to “strictly financial decisions,” according to various accounts.

Graham expressed mixed reactions to LSG’s justification.

“I understand that it was a business move, but I don’t agree to let go of such a fan favorite,” he said. “I have not yet decided if I will continue to watch. It will most likely depend on who will take [Savran’s] place.”

Whether executives might elect to replace the show or its format or host is not yet known, but FSN Pittsburgh has recently reached a deal with Savran. The deal allows him to continue hosting Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates pre- and post-game shows along with head coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference and “Mike Tomlin Show.”

What is and will remain known, however, is the impact Savran had on Pittsburgh sports fans.

“I loved the show,” Pitt junior Corey Cramer said. “I grew up watching the show. Stan was the man.”

“Sportsbeat,” originally co-hosted by television and radio personalities Guy Junker and Bob Pompeani until Savran joined in March 1991, later came to be called “Savran on Sportsbeat” when management parted ways with Junker. The show devoted equal coverage time for each sports team in the region — year-round.

From Lord Stanley’s cups to Vince Lombardi trophies to WPIAL championships or the many heartbreaking Pirates’ seasons, “Sportsbeat” delivered the news and offered original insights and analyses — Savran behind them all.

He talked about anything and everything because he knew so much about anything and everything. More importantly, however, he talked to anyone and everyone.

There’s always been something special about the city of Pittsburgh and its sports fans. While the modus operandi of many “yinzers” is to leave the recently justified City of Champions, the loyalty to their sports teams is second to none and lasts forever.

Savran spoke passionately about his connection with transplanted Pittsburghers in his final broadcasts and admitted that losing that connection was his greatest cause for sorrow with the show’s cancellation.

Answering viewer’s calls was a regular and popular segment of the show. Impressively, calls came anywhere from “Joe from New Kensington” to “Ira from Greece.”

But now the only calls are directed to Liberty Sports Group, as thousands of fans feel obliged to voice their concern.

Savran heard the concerns and appreciated every syllable, much like we appreciated and will remember all of his.

He ended many broadcasts with an appeasing “Join us tomorrow night for another episode of ‘Sportsbeat.’”

But he ended his final broadcast on a much more sentimental, but still pleasant, note.

“For all those of you who may have loved the show at any point, I want you to know that I loved the show … every day … for 18 years,” Savran said.

To you, Savran, and to “Sportsbeat,” we all say, “Loved the show.”