Latrobe broadcasting legend dedicated to craft, community
Dow Carnahan's longtime radio broadcasting partner at Greater Latrobe High School football games recalled Mr. Carnahan's anxiety in 2014 when he was asked to help mark the 30th anniversary of WCNS Radio and of Mr. Carnahan broadcasting Wildcat sports.
“... He was such a humble person that he would never, ever agree to go on the field to be recognized before a game because he just hated any attention toward him,” said Mike Porembka. “He always felt the athletes ... and the respective athletic programs deserved the attention.”
Porembka and broadcast statistician Tom Pratt concocted the story that Latrobe golf legend Arnold Palmer planned to attend that week's home football game. Mr. Carnahan was needed on the field to interview Palmer before kickoff, they said.
“We thought we had it all set up after he agreed, but Dow ... was master of ceremonies at the Latrobe Chamber's community service award dinner beforehand, and he saw Arnie's assistant, Doc Giffin, there and it all blew up,” Porembka said.
Giffin, of course, knew nothing about it.
“Dow was a good sport about it. He knew we were up to something the whole time,” Porembka said. “And after his tragic death Friday, I'm certainly glad now we were able to recognize him for all of his work.”
Dow E. Carnahan of Latrobe died unexpectedly on Friday, April 29, 2016. He was 56.
He was born April 24, 1960, in Latrobe, son of Ronald B. and Anna Jean Graham Carnahan of New Alexandria. He was a 1978 graduate of Derry Area High School and a 1982 graduate of Westminster College.
Mr. Carnahan started his career announcing auto racing in 1984 at the Motordrome Speedway in Smithton and took on numerous roles at 1480 WCNS in Latrobe over three decades.
“That's three entire generations of residents who woke up with their first news in the morning from Dow and listened to his broadcasts of the high school sports,” Porembka said. “He was definitely a legend around here.”
Mr. Carnahan hosted a talk show, Carnahan's Corner, on Saturday mornings. Listeners in eastern Westmoreland County could hear him interview Pirates broadcaster Greg Brown and countless high school athletes and coaches.
“And was Dow ever prepared. I would get detailed game notes emailed to me every Monday morning for the upcoming games — on Friday — and then we'd talk at least two or three times that week before the game, and then I'd get another set of game notes before Friday,” Porembka recalled.
Mr. Carnahan also broadcast St. Vincent College Bearcats football and basketball and Lernerville Speedway events.
He announced at Pittsburgh Motor Speedway for 27 years.
“It's such a tragic loss for this whole area. In many, many ways, Dow was not only the voice of the St. Vincent Bearcats, but of the whole community,” said Don Orlando, public relations director at St. Vincent College.
“Everyone knew Dow as he served as master of ceremonies for so many events over the years. We knew him as a broadcaster, citizen, a human being. And he was just the most caring, friendly person you ever met,” Orlando said.
Mr. Carnahan was inducted into the Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Hall of Fame in 2012 and received the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters outstanding local radio newscast awards in 2013 and 2014.
He was preceded in death in August by his longtime companion, Nancy Henry of Connellsville.
In addition to his parents, he is survived by a sister, Jill Carnahan Plafcan of State College; brother Tim Carnahan of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and nieces and nephews.
Friends will be received from 1 to 3 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Hartman-Graziano Funeral Home Inc., 1500 Ligonier St., Latrobe, and from 10 until 11 a.m. Thursday in Community United Presbyterian Church, 1640 Keystone Park Road, New Alexandria, where funeral services will be held.
Paul Peirce is a reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org