Colorful. Flamboyant. Energized. A Pioneer. A gifted interviewer. A human rolodex. An in-demand commercial announcer. A banquet-speaking powerhouse. Over the years, all these descriptions have been used to describe the unique broadcasting career of Chet Coppock.
Ask yourself these questions: Can you name a bohemian who’s been chosen man of the year by the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame? Can you name anyone who’s done the Roller Derby, and worked as a ring announcer for the World Wrestling Federation while winning a Peter Lisagor award in 1999 for journalistic excellence?
There is only one answer… Mr. Chet Coppock! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Chet has done national TV commercials for Wheaties with the late Walter Payton. For ten years, he teamed up with Michael Jordan as the Voice of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevrolet. For nine years, Coppock served as a sportscaster on WISH TV (CBS) in Indianapolis and WMAQ TV (NBC) in Chicago. And for three years, he hosted NewSport Talk, a New York-based live TV interview and call-in show carried by Cablevision.
This much is certain… Coppock’s interest in sports began almost as soon as he leaped out of the cradle. Through associations enjoyed by his father, Coppock was introduced at an early age to sports legends such as George Halas, Red Grange, Sid Luckman, Hall of Fame sportscaster Jack Brickhouse and a number of prominent Chicago sportswriters.
“I knew I was never going to be Johnny Unitas,” Coppock says. “By the time I was eight, I knew I was missing at least three ingredients to become an athlete – speed, a vertical jump and good hands.”
By the age of 17, Chet was broadcasting football and basketball on WNTH radio, the school radio station at New Trier H.S. in Winnetka, IL.
Four years later, in 1970-71, Coppock, just past his 22nd birthday, was hired to produce the Milwaukee Bucks radio network.
It was Coppock’s first taste of championship glory. The Bucks, led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, captured an NBA title with a victory over Baltimore on Coppock’s 22nd birthday – April 30, 1971.
Coppock would shortly return to Chicago where he would host Sport Rap, a nightly TV talk show on WSNS TV, before eventually becoming a staff announcer with WFLD TV – yet another Windy City-based outlet.
While at WFLD, Coppock developed a friendship with promoter Gerry Seltzer. The association soon led Coppock into a role as the national TV voice of the Roller Derby, a position he occupied for several years.
“We were carried by 275 stations both on the mainland and around the world,” Coppock says joking about his run with the Derby. ” I’m convinced I’m one of just a few sportscasters who’ve ever received fan mail from Guam.’
By the mid-70s, Coppock was off to a six-year run as the sports director at WISH TV (CBS) in Indianapolis, where his anchor desk partners included Jane Pauley.
Perhaps the essence of Coppock’s ability to draw an audience was revealed when an Indianapolis magazine ran a survey to determine the most popular and unpopular sportscaster in the market. Coppock won both polls by sizeable margins.
Coppock returned home to Chicago in 1981, as he joined WMAQ TV for three years as a ‘6 and 10’ sportscaster.
In 1984, Coppock’s path took a different turn. While working as sports director at WMAQ radio, Coppock approached the station brass about doing an in-depth, interview-driven radio sports talk show. The move led to the creation of Coppock on Sports, a vehicle Coppock used to travel coast-to-coast, speaking with athletes, coaches, GMs and media members. The show’s success spawned numerous imitators. In fact, Coppock is often credited with creating the ‘sports magazine’ format used today by any number of radio outlets.
In 1988, Coppock moved to WLUP in Chicago to continue C.O.S., and also host the pre-game, half-time and post-game shows for the Chicago Bulls radio network. In 1991, Coppock picked up another championship moment when the Bulls and Michael Jordan captured their first of six titles over the next decade.
In 1994, Coppock fulfilled a dream – doing live TV in New York city – when he was tabbed to host NewSport Talk on Cablevision. The interview and personality driven program won the respect of the toughest crowd in North America – the New York TV critics.
A two-year stop at Fox Sports Net Chicago would follow in the late 90s.
And most recently, Coppock on Sports made a return to the airwaves, as Coppock served as a top-rated national talk show host on Sporting News Radio Network from August 2000 thru February 2006.
Coppock has received numerous honors and accolades over the years.
“I’m just as thrilled that I was chairman of Indiana Easter Seals and March of Dimes campaigns, as I am of having won Emmy awards and other broadcast honors,” Coppock says. “I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to give something back to the community wherever I’ve worked.
Coppock has served as the Illinois chairman of the Smiles for Little City campaign. He has been active with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Special Olympics.
A gifted commercial announcer who prides himself on ad-libbing all spots, Coppock has done work for numerous clients including McDonalds, Wheaties, Chevrolet and P.F. Chang’s china bistros.
Chet hosted The Back Table, a popular interview show that was carried by Sportschannel/Fox Sports Net during the 90s.
Coppock has also co-hosted The Mike Ditka radio show as well as talk shows featuring NBA coaches Phil Jackson and Doug Collins.
In 1990-91 Coppock’s seven-day work schedule also found him serving as the studio host for the NBA radio network.
Other credits include: Former public address announcer for the Chicago Bears; Hosted Chicago Bears’ luncheons for eight years beginning in 1986; Ring announcer for the World Wrestling Federation; Former Sunday columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times; Contributing author to Why I Hate the Dallas Cowboys and Who Made them America’s Team?
And finally, scholarships have been given in Coppock’s name by the Better Boys’ Foundation and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.