“Inspired, but also angered” – College Football Hall of Fame


College Football Hall of FameFor anyone into football history, few jobs could be better than the one Kent Stephens has.

He works as historian and curator for the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The building now also houses the Black College Football Hall of Fame. Kent has been working on an exhibit about the Black College All-America teams that the Pittsburgh Courier started naming in 1925.

Kent took out a little time to read The Color of Sundays. His take…

“There are countless untold stories tracing back through the history of racially segregated sports. Conte tells the Bill Nunn, Jr. story in a way that will leave you inspired, but also angered at the injustice that he and millions of others had to endure. This biography will leave you with a desire to learn more about this aspect of football’s past.”



Launch Party 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct 6. Clark Bar & Grill. Free parking.

“He could see the full picture…”

The Tribune-Review featured The Color of Sundays with a full-page story and excerpt…

Trib NunnWhen the Steelers were in the midst of winning four Super Bowls the 1970s, credit was given to the players, coaches and owners. But one of the most important men contributing to the team’s success remained in the background.

According to Andrew Conte, author of “The Color of Sundays: The Secret Strategy That Built the Steelers’ Dynasty” (Blue River Press, $25), scout Bill Nunn Jr. arguably was as essential as Chuck Noll, Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann. Nunn’s ability to find talent at small black schools brought Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, John Stallworth, L.C. Greenwood and Glenn Edwards to the Steelers.

“I think the key factor to them winning their first four Super Bowls was their willingness to go out and try these players nobody else was looking at,” said Conte, a reporter with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just look at the defensive line. … Without Nunn, you get (Joe) Greene but not Greenwood. You don’t get Stallworth in the ’74 draft. You don’t get Donnie Shell. You don’t get Glenn Edwards. You don’t get Sam Davis.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/-topstories/9171892-74/nunn-steelers-conte#ixzz3nazfiLPz

Launch party 6 p.m., Tuesday, Clark Bar & Grill

‘His impact on the Steelers is immense… ‘

BN at Forbes FieldThe challenge of writing about history is making the information as accurate as possible — but also relevant to a contemporary audience.

When I first thought about doing this book, I started out by meeting with Samuel Black, the director of African-American Programs at Pittsburgh’s Senator John Heinz History Center. He had put together a detailed exhibit on the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper and that gave me a lot of insight.

It was important to me, then, to get his take on the finished product. I sent Sam an advanced copy of The Color of Sundays, and here’s what he had to say…

Samuel Black

Samuel Black

“It was a great read because I am a fan of Bill Nunn Jr. … His impact on the Steelers is immense and I am glad you were able to get inside that history and bring it out. This book reveals a man’s journey through 20th Century American sports – highlighting Black College football and the professional ranks as well. His quiet journalism and eye on society helped to integrate much of professional sports and paved the way for open opportunities for players, coaches, and front office staff.”

Launch Party — 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct 6 at the Clark Bar & Grill

Essential Andy Conte

U.S. Attorney David Hickton, on left, stops by WESA's Studio A to talk with me about Internet criminals.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton, on left, stops by WESA’s Studio A to talk with me about Internet criminals.

Pittsburgh’s NPR station, WESA-FM, handed me the keys to its daily news talk program Essential Pittsburgh.

I talked with U.S. Attorney David Hickton. This was his first live radio interview and he brought the passion for going after hackers — as well as some advice for computer users. “This is the crime of our age,” he said.

Steven_Labalme_Eiffel_TowerWe also chatted with @NewGirlInTown Elaine Labalme — about her recent trip through Europe. We compared notes about the continent’s more liberal attitudes. Of course you want the kids to see Amsterdam’s red-light district!

And finally, wIMAG1315e went out of the studio for a behind-the-scenes tour of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory. You won’t believe what they have hiding in the basement! We also sat down with observatory director Lou Coban, who has one of the most unique jobs in town.

Many thanks to producer Marcus Charleston (below) for bringing this all together. You can hear the full rundown here.


Change creates opportunity

A change of administration creates many interesting moments. One happened Thursday when Mike Huss, Pittsburgh’s public safety director, wandered into the Tribune-Review’s newsroom. He wanted to talk about the last nine months of the Ravenstahl administration, his role during the transition and his future. In an often emotional session, he talked with reporters Margaret Harding, Carl Prine and me along with editors Sandy Tolliver and Jim Wilhelm. The Ravenstahl administration often was off-limits to reporters, so it was refreshing to have a frank discussion with one of the former mayor’s top lieutenants. The story appears in today’s Trib.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss talks to the Trib about his uncertain job security on Thursday January 9, 2014. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss talks to the Trib about his uncertain job security. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

By Margaret Harding, Carl Prine and Andrew Conte

Facing an uncertain future, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss said on Thursday he would like to stay on board with Mayor Bill Peduto to finish cleaning up the mess left by the ongoing corruption investigation of city government.

“There’s no one more disappointed about what happened,” Huss, 46, of Lincoln Place told the Tribune-Review in an exclusive interview. “I believe, had I been in a position where I was in (city police headquarters in the North Side), that never would have happened. I believe that. It did happen on my watch. There’s no one feels worse about it than me. Nobody.”

But Huss said the public has no idea how difficult it is to effect change in a city where unions and arbitrators’ decisions control the workings of police, fire and emergency services departments.

To read the entire story, click here.

How do they do things? Where? Oh…

Just in case you haven’t gotten enough of an Andy Conte fix, there’s this in today’s Trib. A full-page ad.

fullpage cropped

The only thing missing is the cape! At least that was Trib photographer Andy Russell’s take on my portrait (he’s the one who shot the cover photo we used for Breakaway). They’re not making fun of me, right? ;-)


Donor Dilemma receives national recognition

The Association of Health Care Journalists is running a story this month about our investigative series on organ and tissue recovery, Donor Dilemma

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-ReviewThe Center for Organ Recovery & Education in O’Hara uses these boxes to ship tissue to LifeNet Health. The Virginia Beach-based organization paid CORE $5.2 million in 2011 for tissue recovery.

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education in O’Hara uses these boxes to ship tissue to LifeNet Health. The Virginia Beach-based organization paid CORE $5.2 million in 2011 for tissue recovery.

Every reporter knows the stories that organ recovery nonprofits pitch to media outlets, about donors’ families receiving praise from recipients at annual events with flowers, medals and teary speeches.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has covered these stories for years, often reporting some heartwarming stories of turning loss from death into life for someone else. But investigative reporters Andrew Conte and Luis Fabregas started wondering what happens at these organ procurement organizations the rest of the year.

The national investigation, “Donor Dilemma,” revealed that the nonprofits collected $1.2 billion in 2011 from recovering more than 80,000 organs, bones and other tissue. They paid top executives $320,000 a year on average and, in some cases, hired family members to work at their nonprofits. Other nonprofits rented a private jet, threw large retirement parties, bought Rose Bowl Tickets and held a retreat at a five-star oceanfront resort – with the federal government and taxpayers picking up part of the cost.

The only ones who cannot receive any money from this trade in human flesh and bone are the families of donors, blocked by a federal law that prohibits the transfer of anything of value for human parts. Too often, these families are struggling with medical bills and other expenses and don’t have enough money to pay for a funeral or a headstone.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Cyber Bonnie & Clyde target banks online

The bank robbers drove around New York City for more than 10 hours, collecting some $2.4 million — from ATM machines. They posed for selfies with the cash.

The financial industry’s global electronic networks mean that banks are as secure only as their weakest computer links. A tech-savvy Bonnie or Clyde could exploit vulnerabilities to log into a bank’s computer systems from a distant country with little chance of getting caught and seemingly endless targets.  Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

Banks are as secure only as their weakest computer links. A tech-savvy Bonnie or Clyde could exploit vulnerabilities. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

But the real theft took place earlier, 7,800 miles away in India. Hackers cracked into a financial outsourcing company there, resetting software to allow unlimited withdrawals and clearing the way for robbers to withdraw $40 million from ATMs worldwide.

Because of the financial industry’s global electronic networks, even the most secure institutions are as strong only as their weakest international computer links.

Check out the latest investigation in the Trib’s Cyber Rattling series on computer security.