Chet Coppock was an institution in the Chicago sports broadcasting world. A graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL, Coppock held quite a few positions at various radio and media companies in town, including a stint as a sports anchor for WMAQ in the 1980s. In 1984, he was approached with the idea of creating an interview-driven radio sports talk show, which led to the creation of Coppock on Sports. With that show and in the years that followed, Coppock practically invented the sports talk format we know today. He was known as the “Godfather of Sports Talk Radio” and with good reason.
He went on to do work for the Chicago Bulls radio network, co-hosted The Mike Ditka Radio Show, host Notre Dame football and basketball pregame and postgame shows, and mentor many of the major broadcasting voices to follow him in Chicago. He did a ton more things inside and outside of Chicago to the point where it seemed strange to imagine a Chicago sports broadcast that didn’t include Coppock in some manner. When he wasn’t on the radio or TV, he was likely writing one of the five books he penned.
Sadly, Coppock passed away Wednesday following a car accident in which he was the passenger. And since then, the tributes have been pouring in.
The Chicago Blackhawks posted a video from their Stanley Cup celebration in 2013 when Coppock summed up what it meant to the franchise and its fans.
Back in 2013, Chet Coppock recapped Chicago's Stanley Cup celebration for Blackhawks TV.
This was Chet's rare gift: unscripted oration, making a big moment feel even bigger. pic.twitter.com/ebaxvXjUyx
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 18, 2019
ESPN Radio and NBC Sports Chicago host Dave Kaplan wrote a full tribute on NBC Sports but also spoke with WGN about Chet.
“He would say, as they walked into a stadium, and somebody would yell his name, ‘you don’t say hi to the individual, you say hi to the whole section.’ That was Chet. He was larger than life,”
“Chet Coppock was it, there was no sports talk radio, And every night it was appointment listening,” Kaplan said. “I’ll never forget those days and he will be sorely missed.”
And the tributes and condolences just kept coming, from local sports teams to national media members and companies who got a leg-up because of Chet. That includes WWE, since Coppock, a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, had served as special guest ring announcer during the Chicago portion of WrestleMania 2.
WWE is saddened to learn that iconic Chicago sports broadcaster Chet Coppock has passed away. https://t.co/l2UKFVtDB8
— WWE (@WWE) April 18, 2019
Totally heartbroken with the loss of friend, Chet Coppock. What a good man. He will be missed for sure. Chet – a sports-talk legend – was one of the first guys to put me on national TV. He was so real. We talked recently. Prayers to his family.https://t.co/IoxYFohjP2
— Rob Parker (@RobParkerFS1) April 18, 2019
Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Chet Coppock. He was a pioneer and legend in Chicago sports media. He will be dearly missed. pic.twitter.com/NF9AAuqEmk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 18, 2019
Sad news coming from Chicago that sportscasting legend Chet Coppock has passed away. Was on his Long Island-based NewSport Talk TV show many times in the 90’s and he treated me like gold. RIP, Chet.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 18, 2019
So sad to hear about the passing of Chet Coppock..A Chicago icon in the broadcasting industry. Chet was the first person I ever worked with as a broadcaster way back in the day. My condolences to his family …Rest In Peace my friend..
— Troy Murray (@muzz19) April 18, 2019
Chet Coppock’s death from a car accident is as tragic as it is stunning. A Chicago sports media giant, Chet paved the way many of us were fortunate to follow. Outspoken. Audacious. Authentic. He could be cantankerous but always good to me. He deserved a better wrap-up. RIP, Chet.
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) April 18, 2019
I love this 1990 @Chicago_Reader profile on Chet Coppock. It's an enlightening read if you don't know that much about him. https://t.co/EwIyMOaKSn
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) April 18, 2019