'Cool' Kid: Stuart Scott's Station Days

I’ll admit I got a little tired of guys in bars yelling “Boo-yah!” near my ear, but I will say that “cool as the other side of the pillow” is one of my favorite things I ever heard a sportscaster say, along with Warner Wolf talking about baseball’s “fair pole” on WCBS, Chris Berman’s portmanteau fun with last names (Jim ‘Uncle Ben’s’ Rice, for one) on ESPN, and Vin Scully saying “It gets through Buckner!” in the fall of ’86.

Stuart Scott, who passed away at 49 earlier in the week, gets credit for the “other side of the pillow” analogy, and countless other gems, such as “Just call him butter 'cause he's on a roll,” that gave SportsCenter its attitude—and ESPN its signature show. Like many in network TV, Scott—called ESPN’s “voice of exuberance” by the NY Times—got his start at the local level. Scott worked as reporter and weekend sports guy at WPDE in Myrtle Beach-Florence from 1987 and 1988, then moved on to WRAL Raleigh for two years, and then to WESH Orlando from 1990 to 1993.

Rick Henry, who was the sports director at WPDE when Scott was there, said on SCNow.com: “His personality, what you saw on ESPN, is what we saw on the very first day. He and I both shared a passion for sports, and really, just laughs.”

WRAL news director John Harris worked with Scott at both WRAL and WESH. "We had just started a weekend morning newscast and Stuart started bugging me endlessly to be the sports anchor on those shows," Harris said on the WRAL website. "Finally I told him if he was willing to get up that early on weekends and still handle his regular sports reporting job he could do it. Even then, he was the Stuart we all grew to love at ESPN–smart, brash, creative and fun-loving.”

WESH sports director Pat Clarke delivered a touching two minute tribute to Scott, who he used to compete against when Scott was in Orlando. "It surprised no one,” Clarke said, when ESPN came calling. “What he may have absorbed here in Orlando, he perfected in Bristol,” added Clarke.

And, by the way, the other side of the pillow metaphor was hatched early in Scott’s local TV career. According to SCNow.com, Scott said in 1998, “People say I stole it from a movie, but I first thought of that and said it on my first job ... I just liked it."

Obviously I did too.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.